In his article, "Szabó's Colonel Redl and the Habsburg Myth," Peter G. Christensen examines issues that stem from the fact that Hungarian film director István Szabó has made a film whose protagonist departs in many respects from the real-life Alfred Victor Redl, who betrayed military secrets of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire to the Russians just before the First World War. The Redl in the film is clearly an outsider, but his ethnic, class, religious, and sexual identities are not clearly established. Although Szabó expressed in interviews hostility for the character of Redl created in the film, the Redl portrayed by Klaus Maria Brandauer is considerably more sympathetic than the director would allow. In the film, the heir to the Habsburg throne, Franz Ferdinand, is presented as an evil and conniving man who has Redl framed, thus creating sympathy for Redl, who remains true to the ideals of public service only hypocritically represented by the Archduke. While not subscribing to the Hapsburg myth of a "golden age" under Emperor Franz Joseph, the film does, nevertheless, create some nostalgia for it, even as it fails to bring into the open the actual options that were available for expanding democracy and taking steps for ethnic equality.

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