The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, March 25-31

03/25/2015 10:14 AM |

from mayerling to sarajevo

From Mayerling to Sarajevo (1940)
Directed by Max Ophüls
Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered World War I, is a benighted historical figure. Rendered the reluctant heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne by his cousin’s suicide at Mayerling, he is resurrected in Max Ophüls’ under-appreciated, splendidly written, filmed and acted French political romance as a grim visionary, inspired and girded by the Czech Duchess Chotek, his dynastically unrecognized “morganatic” wife of preternatural integrity, charm, and foresight. Though pitched in its final minute as anti-Nazi propaganda, the film flays the fatuously rigid old European order while observing that a sensible alternative to the singularly senseless “Great War” did exist. Wes Anderson’s buoyantly inventive The Grand Budapest Hotel, which vivified the vestigial persistence of inter-war European history, as well as Europe’s current travails make this somberly compelling movie all the more resonant. Jonathan Stevenson (Mar 27-Apr 2 at Film Forum; showtimes daily)