A great Empire, once famous for its enlightened traditions, is taken over by a ruthless political establishment. Religious fundamentalists and national separatists are tearing at the fabric of its liberal society. Under the influence of his conservative advisors, the Emperor fails to initiate the reforms that could save the Empire from annihilation. One man alone can avert the cataclysm to come. The year is 1888 and the 600 year-old Empire of Austria-Hungary is at a cross-road of history. Crown-Prince Rudolf, son of fabled Empress Sisi, the most beautiful woman of her time, is the man with the vision and the ability to lead his Empire into the 20th century. Yet his enemies, the all powerful Prime Minister first and foremost, scheme to isolate Rudolf from his father and from access to power. Against the backdrop of one of the most dangerous, exciting and colorful periods in history, at the dawn of the modern age, unfolds one of the greatest love-stories ever told, the story of "The ... Written by
Early on in the second episode, a prostitute offers Rudolf and his friends two bottles of Dom Perignon champagne, with the familiar bottle and label --"Gentlemen, special delivery just in from France" . Although it purports to be around 1886 (Wilhelm mentions "It's 1866 all over again", to which Johanne responds "It's been twenty years Wilhelm, don't you have anything else to brag about?"), Dom Perignon's first vintage was in 1921. See more »
In trying to spin a script around Rudolf's vague attempts to carve out a role for himself in some kind of grandiose "one world" escape from the Dual Monarchy, the script writers reveal the truth about Rudolf.
He was exactly as his father's ministers thought he was and his father Franz Josef feared he was, a weak, indecisive, self-indulgent nitwit, who hadn't the courage of his convictions or the ones he so easily adopted in lieu of his own thinking.
Von Thun as Rudolf does a lovely job of conveying all this. In a nutshell an heir to the throne who can't have children because he passed on his VD to his wife and made her sterile, while having affairs with a mother and her daughter... and rewarding the familial devotion by taking the star-struck daughter along in his suicide.
If you love costumes and Viennese architecture and interior design enough, you may wish to endure the show (or you can sneak back and watch the Sissi trilogy which is now up on Netflix Roku). And there is some very nice acting by some of the minor characters.
This is about as dramatic and predictable as watching sand run through an hour glass.
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