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  Directed by
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  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
  Subtitles
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  Extras

    Mayerling

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 134 mins . PG . PAL

      Feature
    Contract

    Iíve had this film on top of my to-do pile for quite a while and finally bit the bullet and got through all 134 minutes of it. Itís not all that bad, just a bit dated and long-winded.

    Basically it tells the sorry tale of Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria in a loveless marriage, who finds many a fresh young thing to spend his bleak winter nights with. However, he grows bored with shagging hotties every night and coincidentally meets Maria, with whom he falls desperately in love. Their relationship is frowned upon by the Emperor Franz-Josef and he decides that it must end for the good of Austria.

    "On the red carpet, the blood doesnít showÖ"

    However, Rudy isnít buying into this tradition nonsense and he and his new ladylove head off to Mayerling, the country estate of the royals, to do some serious snuggling. Meanwhile, Rudy is about to be offered the Kingship of Hungary (if he abdicates his heirnessness to Austria), but his helper-monkeys are intercepted and his father learns of what can only be interpreted as treason.

    Rudy is now officially in the shit. And so is Maria.

    Like I said, itís okay, it just takes a long time to say little. The performances are good and all, but the film does take itself a little too seriously at times. I put this down to director Terence Young though who was largely responsible for some early Bond movies, including the very first, Dr. No. However, attention to detail and costuming is all great, I just found it a little hard to believe that Omar Sharif could pass as Austrian. Isnít he Arabic or Egyptian or something?

    Perhaps the mums out there (like mine) may want this because they fancy Omar Sharif, but the film plays out as a rather maudlin midday movie type affair and isnít all that thrilling. It takes too long for us to figure out whatís going to happen and by the end we are just waiting for the damn thing to end rather than caring about the characters. Still, if youíre the patient type who enjoys a nice long immersive story of conspiracy among the (Austrian) royal family and their bed-hopping shenanigans, this is all yours. Knock yourself out.

      Video
    Contract

    This film was originally released in 1968 and, to that end, it looks alright for its age. It does suffer occasional artefacts throughout its monstrous 2.35:1 enhanced aspect ratio, and these get a little more prevalent around the old reel markers (which are still present). These take the shape of specks and fibres and quite commonly long vertical white scratches on the screen image. The layer change pauses mildly at 70:54 and there are some issues with ghosting or hazing around the skin in outdoors shots (particularly in the snow). Not many of those though, really. Finally, the colour palette is pretty even for such an older film, though the blacks hint at a lighter blue at times.

      Audio
    Contract

    Sterling Dolby Digital mono is all we receive here and this does an adequate job, thankfully. Levels are good and dialogue is mostly okay, though some words are confusing at times and there arenít any subtitles to help us out. The music starts out quite tinny, but this stabilises by midway through the film. Francis Lai is credited as scoring the film, but he has made heavy use of some more recognisable classical pieces that will no doubt be familiar to you, regardless of whether youíre a fan of classical or not.

      Extras
    Contract

    We donít even get a second screen off the main menu. The chapter list is right on there and there arenít audio or subtitles choices, plus not a lick by way of extra material.

      Overall  
    Contract

    The marvelous ballet Giselle is featured at one point and this was probably the highlight of the film for me. Having once seen it live, it was immediately familiar, though the (film) director uses special effects to create the illusion of Giselleís ghost leaving and re-entering her grave. And itís being performed live in the film, on stage, in front of a tuxedoed crowd. Whatís up with that?

    That does kinda sum up the whole film though - much unnecessary gloss over a simple tale. Mayerling isnít even hinted at until two-thirds of the way through and the characters donít stay very long when they are there. The whole film is too long, too overblown and unnecessary and could have been shortened by a good half an hour and still said exactly the same thing.


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      And I quote...
    "About as interesting as the title, this film is a long-winded yawner for the mums who fancy Omar Sharif."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          AKAI CT-T29S32S 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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