Monday, 7 September 2009

Le Secret de Mayerling

Sixty years ago this week this film was premiered in the Old Cinema at what is now the University of Westminster. I have written previously of some of the distinguished film history of the University, and further details are available via the Compton Club.
The advert opposite is from the University magazine of the time, and notes that the French Ambassador was in attendance. The film itself was written and directed by Jean Delannoy, and is based on the Mayerling incident from 1889, and the murder/suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria. The film starred Jean Marais, someone who first came to my attention as the cover star of The Smiths 'This Charming Man', the cover of which is reproduced below. I have been considering for a while the possibility of screening some of these historic films that have been premiered at the University to illustrate the unique and important history of our cinema. In terms of a screening, the problem with 'Le Secret de Mayerling' is not so much that it is in French, but rather that there are no English subtitles! However, it may be that we perhaps show Terence Young's 1968 film Mayerling, starring Omar Sharif, and based on the same incident, as a celebration of this event. Please keep an eye on the Compton Club website for details of this, and future, screenings.


John Flood said...

Great idea showing the original films from the early days of the university cinema. They didn't screen Abel Gance's Napoleon by any chance? I've been trying to see that again.

As to language...well we are multicultural these days...go ahead screen in French!

Guy Osborn said...

Thanks John, we might have a problem with numbers if we show the French one! However, am looking into other possibilities here

John Flood said...

When I was at Indiana the comparative literature department ran a seminar on Kurosawa's films. It was arranged in an interesting way. First, all his films were shown, from the 1930s through to his last. Second, each film was preceded by a short talk on a theme. It might be clothes, music, or in the case of Rashimon, theories of evidence. Some of the very early films (based around kabuki plays) were entirely in Japanese with no subtitles. So the seminar leader would describe the film in great detail before the screening and when we watched it, it made sense and it didn't matter it was in a foreign language. It was effective.