Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The Wedding March (USA, 1928)
Eric von Stroheim does earn his reputation as a director. Despite the lavish production of his films, the narrative is quite often fluid and smooth, without tiring the audiences. Even the background music gives an impression to the audiences that they are indulging in a ballet dancing, where the characters are always portrayed with all their human faults, but with a pinch of sarcasm and humor too.
At the same time, he deals with love in a romantic way, but not forgetting about realism. Another noteworthy point of Stroheim’s films is that they always look modern, no matter if the setting is in a distant era. This is probably because the audiences can still relate to the feelings portrayed on screen and also due to beautiful wardrobe and scenery, that are still a feast for the eyes and stood up the test of time very well.
As an Austrian, Stroheim wanted to show the end of nobility days and of gentleman values in Vienna, all of those things coming to a brutal end with the beginning of WW1.
The setting of this film is Vienna, 1914 in the eve of WW1. Stroheim also takes part in this film as an actor, where he plays the role of Nikki, a noble man in financial crisis due to his spendthrift and the solution for him to recover financial power is marrying a rich woman for her money. He is willing to do so, but things change a little after the Corpus Christi procession, an important religious and military celebration. The nobleman meets a girl (Mitzi) in the middle of the crowd and it was love at first sight, even though the woman had a quite obnoxious fiancé, a butcher called Schani.
Unfortunately, there is an accident with Mitzi and the nobleman visits her at the hospital. Later, they meet again in the restaurant where she works as a harpist. Love flourishes, but Schani is threatening towards Nikki all along, which scares Mitzi and, in exchange for Nikki’s safety, she ends up leaving him and the two lovers move on to their previous love commitments, Nikki marries a rich woman and Mitzi and Schani remain committed.
After the two lovers having enjoyed bliss and fulfillment through true love, their happiness is disrupted by social obligations, a situation quite similar to the disruption of happiness in dear old Austria before the horrors of WW1 reached the country. An entire lifestyle was lost forever, but the memory of the happy days would remain forever in the hearts of those who lived it.