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The film recounts the last years of the life of the Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf of Hapsburg until his tragic death in Mayerling. They are highlighted the difficult relationship with his father, the Emperor Franz Joseph, and the affectionate bond with his mother, the Empress Sissi; the failed marriage to Stephanie of Belgium; and his romantic relationships with the prostitute Mizzi Kaspar and the young Baroness Mary Vetsera, together with whom he will die in Mayerling. The film endorses the reconstruction according to which the Archduke apparently committed suicide, overwhelmed not only by a role that weighed and imprisoned, but also from the disappointment due to the low esteem that his father would usually express.
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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