So I was noodling around Amazon as you do, and came across The Crown Prince, a 2006 Austrian TV movie about Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (1858-89), son of Empress Sissi (ok and Franz Joseph I of Austria) and who famously killed himself in what has become known as The Mayerling Affair. Shockingly, I didn’t know much of anything about him or his suicide, despite it showing up in numerous films, and the little I could see didn’t look too shlocky, so I fired it up.
German actor Max von Thun plays Rudolf, Klaus Maria Brandauer (La Révolution française, Out of Africa) is Emperor Franz Joseph, Sandra Ceccarelli is Empress Sissi, and Vittoria Puccini plays Rudolf’s eventual lover, Mary Vetsera. The costumes were designed by Ulrike Fessler and Margit Salzinger, both of whom have done lots of German-language productions that I’ve never heard of.
First, the real peeps:
Now, I could write a long, thoughtful review of this piece of semi-fluff, or I could just boil it down into the Things I Learned. Guess which method wins?
Things I Learned Watching The Crown Prince
1. Rudolf Went Through Some Bad Facial Hair Periods
2. Rudolf Disguised Himself, Fell in Love With a Commoner
I have no idea if this is totally true or totally made up, but basically, Rudolf goes out to rub shoulders with the peeps and falls in love. She dies. It gives him a sad.
3. Rudolf Shagged a Baroness, Then Shagged Her Daughter, Didn’t Think This Was a Problem
In the 1870s, according to this film, Rudolf gets it on with Hélène, Baroness von Vetsera. 10 years later, he hooks up with her daughter, and doesn’t seem to see anything weird about this. Mom is only semi-miffed.
4. Mary Vetsera Was a Limp Napkin
People, I have NO IDEA why Rudolf was in love with her, at least in this film. She’s blonde, she’s young, she decides she’s in love with him and poof! he’s in love with her. She has no personality other than Being a Teenager in Love, Stamping Her Foot A Lot. No I won’t marry the Portuguese aristocrat, you can’t make me! I wanna shag the married crown prince who has venereal diseases!
5. Omar Sharif Was Still Alive as of 2015.
Who knew? In a throwback to his role as Rudolf in 1968’s Mayerling, Sharif plays painter Hans Canon, who tutors? Rudolf.
6. Empress Elisabeth Was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl; Had a Semi-Crap Wardrobe
She’s constantly urging Rudolf to make bad choices, all while wearing questionable Simplicity-pattern based stuff like:
7. There Was No Difference in Fashion Between the 1870s and 1880s
Me watching episode 1: okay, this isn’t too bad! Me watching episode 2: it’s at least 10 years later and the fashions look exactly the same. Unfortunately it was hard to track down images from the earlier episode. It’s all fine, some of it’s good, they just clearly didn’t have the budget to fine tune the stylistic differences.
8. Having Gonorrhea Makes You Cough
Rudolf hangs out in brothels a lot, and eventually shacks up with a prostitute. He gets gonorrhea, we’re told, and gives it to his wife (Stephanie of Belgium) rendering her infertile after having one daughter. It’s implied that the gonorrhea is Causing His Decline, but the way he shows it is through lots of portentous coughing. Which, really?
9. Rudolf Killed Himself Because Nobody Understood Him
Especially his father, but also his wife.
Have you given The Crown Prince a whirl?