Vienna in the beginning of the twentieth century. Cavalry Lieutenant Fritz Lobheimer is about to end his affair with Baroness Eggerdorff when he meets the young Christine, the daughter of an... Read allVienna in the beginning of the twentieth century. Cavalry Lieutenant Fritz Lobheimer is about to end his affair with Baroness Eggerdorff when he meets the young Christine, the daughter of an opera violinist. Baron Eggerdorff however soon hears of his past misfortune...Vienna in the beginning of the twentieth century. Cavalry Lieutenant Fritz Lobheimer is about to end his affair with Baroness Eggerdorff when he meets the young Christine, the daughter of an opera violinist. Baron Eggerdorff however soon hears of his past misfortune...
- Oberleutnant Theo Kaiseras Oberleutnant Theo Kaiser
- (as Willi Eichberger)
Ophuls films contain a myriad of details that one would not recognize when seeing the film just once. In the first scene, the opera scene, one might find the film-technique of 'enunciation.' Before the performance starts, one can see an eye-pair hiding behind a mask in the wall, followed by long shots over the auditorium. This makes the spectator feel that this masked figure, which is actually the opera director, is the camera and the enunciator, and therefore is identified with him. A remarkable long shot is also present in the gorgeous love scene of Christl and Fritz, as they glide in a sleigh through the snow-covered wood in the winter-landscape. As they talk about eternity, variation is created with some full shots of the couple. The same feeling is transmitted in the last scene, after Christl's death, where one can only see the marvelous picture of the snow-covered trees and only hear the off text saying: 'I swear that I love you. for all eternity', on that place where happiness once seemed to be assured. It makes the spectator re-live the first scene and be aware of the dramatic fact, that all of these beautiful feelings are gone, and in addition, Christl passed away believing that Fritz had cheated her the entire time. On the surface, Liebelei seems to be a really nice love story about two people meeting and fancying each other, but due to circumstances outside of their relationship, the love story ends in tragedy. But the main idea of the film is about something deeper. Arthur Schnitzler, who wrote 'Liebelei,' enjoyed great success with this theatre-play. Schnitzler's work was sometimes seen as another 'bourgeois sorry affair' (ger. Bürgerliches Trauerspiel), which always has the main theme of a love affair between people of different social classes. Although Vienna had very rigid rules in 1900 and Fritz is obviously from a higher class than Christl, this was not the main focus of the story. The actual theme is timeless and universal: misplaced male honor. The duel in the end was just the tip of the iceberg. It was a common occurrence, especially among officers, to fight a duel whenever this 'honor' was damaged, even though it has always been illegal, of course. Theo, the victim's best friend tries to change the course of destiny as he goes to his superior, the colonel. This is the scene where you see the conflict between two worlds colliding. On the one hand you have the militarily strict world, but on the other hand, there exists a humane world. In the humane perspective, humans can err, can love, and also forgive. The Baron's position is clear. Everyone expects him to act in a certain way in this situation. Despite this, the Baron is the evilest in having misplaced honor. Theo is the one caught in the middle, the only one who understands this madness, and this position is the reason for his desperation.
Gestures are often seen in Ophuls' film as well, where he tries to replace words by body movement, gestures, faces, camera movement, lightning, etc. For example, there was never a cigarette smoked as by Gustav Gründgens (the Baron), concentrating all his hate and anger in his smoking.
One of the obviously greatest sequences is the final one, where Theo (Eichberger), Mizzi (Ullrich) and Christl's father (Hörbiger) sit opposite of Christl (Schneider) at the entrance of her chamber and try to tell her about her lover's (Liebeneiner) death. The Camera is mainly on Christl showing in a long extreme close up her realization about what has happened. She doubts that Fritz ever loved her since he lost his life on a duel over another woman. Her face shows pure desolation and desperation as she stammers out her thoughts. One must have a heart of stone to not shed some tears or at least have a lump in the throat when seeing this scene, which wouldn't have had half of this effect if it were filmed from a medium long shot perspective.
See synopsis above as well
- Jun 24, 2003