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by Ernst Marischka

grade: 6.5

The Story of Vickie is not intended to faithfully depict the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. Marischka’s main aim – and that of Sil-Vara before him – is to entertain the audience, to move them and to make them dream with a classic love story.

Looking for true love

Considered among the most important sovereigns in history, Queen Victoria has been the subject of many myths and legends over the years, as well as numerous biopics dedicated to her. Could Austrian cinema, which had shown so much interest in stories set in the world of the nobility and the upper middle class, remain indifferent to such an important character? Absolutely not. And indeed, a year before the famous trilogy dedicated to Elisabeth of Austria and Hungary was realised, the feature film The Story of Vickie (1954) – just like the aforementioned trilogy – was a great success, also directed by Ernst Marischka, also starring a very young Romy Schneider (again together with her mother Magda) in the leading role.

The film is a remake of the feature film of the same name directed by Erich Engel in 1936 and was inspired by a play written by Sil-Vara (Geza Silberer) in 1932. The first years of the reign of young Queen Victoria are thus staged in a light and ironic mélo with a strong sentimental character, perfectly in line with the canons of Austrian cinema of the time.

King William IV is about to die prematurely. According to the line of succession, therefore, it will be up to his niece Victoria (Schneider), who is only eighteen years old, to take the throne of England. To this end, some of her loyal advisers – among them Baroness Louise Lehzen (played by Magda Schneider) and Lord Melbourne (Karl Ludwig Diehl) – will have to educate the queen for this important new position. After some time, however, plans are made at court to organise the marriage of young Victoria, who, however, seems rather reluctant, as she only hopes to marry someone she is truly in love with.

Ernst Marischka, who has always shown a predilection for melodramas based on plays, was therefore perfectly up to the task. His The Story of Vickie, therefore, is impeccable in its mise en scene: Elegant costumes, sumptuous sets, very few outdoor scenes and dense dialogue reveal a purely theatrical setting, which, however, with its bright, vibrant colours and the talent of the entire cast (including Adrian Hoven as Prince Albert, betrothed to Victoria, Paul Hörbigeras his tutor, Professor Landmann, and Rudolf Vogel as the servant George, who is entrusted with several comic sketches) works also on the big screen.

The Story of Vickie is not intended to faithfully depict the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign. It is therefore not surprising that, especially with regard to certain dates and the meeting between the protagonist and Prince Albert, there are numerous inaccuracies in the feature film. The main aim of Marischka – and of Sil-Vara before him – is to entertain the audience, to move them and make them dream with a classic love story. It matters little (or almost nothing), then, if the screenplay has several loose ends that were previously brought up and then never dealt with again. The Story of Vickie does not seem to have many pretensions, but it succeeds perfectly in its intentions thanks mainly to the charm and charisma of a very young Romy Schneider. Magnetic in the role of a young queen, the actress would have been absolutely perfect in the role of an equally important and equally beloved sovereign, even better if Austrian (by adoption). But that, of course, is another story.

Original title: Mädchenjahre einer Königin
Directed by: Ernst Marischka
Country/year: Austria / 1954
Running time: 116’
Genre: biographical, historical, romance
Cast: Romy Schneider, Adrian Hoven, Magda Schneider, Karl Ludwig Diehl, Christl Mardayn, Paul Hörbiger, Rudolf Vogel, Fred Liewehr, Alfred Neugebauer, Otto Treßler, Stefan Skodler, Peter Weck, Rudolf Lenz, Hans Thimig, Peter Gerhard, Elisabeth Epp, Hilde Wagener, Helene Lauterböck, Eduard Strauss Jr., Viktor Braun
Screenplay: Ernst Marischka, Sil-Vara
Cinematography: Bruno Mondi
Produced by: Erma-Film, Sie Verling

Info: the page of The Story of Vickie on iMDb