Maximilian I of Mexico is a controversial character in Mexican history. Born as a nobleman in 19th century Vienna, he found an empire and a tragic end in this land. His dreams, joys and worries are now the subject of a documentary film by Mexican public television in collaboration with public broadcasters from Europe: Austria’s Österreichischer Rundfunk(ORF), Germany’s Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) and the Franco-German Association Relative à la Télévision Européenne (ARTE).
Last week the television channel of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (TVUNAM) presented the documentary titled Maximilian of Mexico: Dreams of Power at the National Museum of History at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. The castle sits atop a hill over 7,000 ft above sea level, which historically served as a sacred area for the ancient Aztec Empire and subsequently served as the royal residence of Maximilian and his wife Charlotte of Belgium.
The US $503,000 production was filmed in different locations of Austria, Belgium, Italy, France and Mexico, all historical places that hold the essence and memories of Maximilian’s life. The director of this documentary, Franz Leopold Schmelzer, stated that this co-production seeks to show the human and emotional side of the deposed emperor.
The premiere was attended by the president of Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts (Conaculta) Rafael Tovar y de Teresa; the Rector of the UNAM, José Narro Robles; the Austrian ambassador in Mexico, Eva Hager; and the director of The National Institute of Antropology and History (INAH), Maria Teresa Franco. Also present at this gala night were actor Jurgend Endl-Kapaun, Viktoria Hillish and Alberto Acosta, all of whom had roles as characters in the documentary’s dramatizations of events.
Maximilian of Mexico is not the first production featuring collaboration between public broadcasters of Mexico and Austria. In 2014, TV UNAM released a documentary on a headdress which currently rests in Vienna’s Museum of Ethnology and is believed to have belonged to the late Aztec emperor Moctezuma.