Erzherzog Johann (1929)

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Max Neufeld


Alfred Deutsch-German

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28 October 2011 | FerdinandVonGalitzien
Harmless And Sweet Hagiography
Although many commoners think so, all aristocrats are not alike; they have many differences and varied interests (for example, this Herr Graf is not interested in anything at all) This is true even if they are from the same Teutonic family as demonstrated in "Erzherzog Johann", a film directed by Herr Max Neufeld in the silent year of 1929 and which depicts the early life of the archduke John of Austria.

This important member of the Habsburg dynasty had a significant military career but after so many battles he turned away from such tiresome work and focused his efforts on more mundane though equally dangerous activities such as mountain climbing and chasing commoner girls. As you can see there are obvious irreconcilable differences between this Herr Graf and Herr Johann, because although we both had military careers (this Herr Von won many lost battles) and aristocratic origins (the Habsburg and the Galitzien dynasty are equally Teutonic although the latter one is broke), certainly this German count never will practice any sport, especially such a sweaty one as mountain climbing which obliges you to wear those horrible Alpine garments. And don't forget the terrible fact that Herr Johann ( Herr Igo Sym ) finally marries the daughter of the postmaster of Aussee, Frau Anna Plochl ( Frau Xenia Desni ), a beautiful ruddy fraulein certainly but one with no means.

The film focuses its artistic intentions on depicting Herr Johann's sporting life ; there are many beautiful mountain shots , the ones that Teutons like so much, during the first part of the film and later there is the courting of Frau Anna Plochl, the commoner fraulein who appeals to the aristocrat. These thrilling adventures are set in the Duchy of Styria, a region that Herr Johann was very fond of, becoming a benefactor to its inhabitants (especially Frau Plochl, ja wohl!...)

So the film is harmless and sweet hagiography on the early life of archduke John of Austria in such idyllic locales though occasionally there's a trifling problem or two at the Viennese court but naturally, Herr Johann solves them quickly so we can leave the magnificence of the Vienesse court and get back to the bucolic Styrian landscapes . Thus we see the "tracht", the national commoners' costume of the German-speaking countries (that is to say, Germany and Austria) worn graciously by Herr Johann and there's a nice look at the fancy dress of the decadent aristocrats at court (the resulting contrast makes for a bit of camp) All this merely provides the background to present a romantic and idealized view of Herr Johann's early life, obviously Herr Neufield's only artistic purpose and one he fulfils with a vengeance.

And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must settle some differences with the Habsburg.

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