“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
-- Jesus Christ
“But is love the only thing? If love were all, I could follow you in rags to the ends of the world. But in that world, you’d have left the king to die in his cell. Honor binds a woman too, Rudolf. My honor lies in keeping faith with my country and my house. I don’t know why God has let me love you. But I know that I must stay.”
-- Princess Flavia
The Prisoner of Zenda has excited and delighted the imaginations of both young and old for many years. The Adventure novel first published in 1894 by Anthony Hope follows in the tradition of the British adventure story of the time. At the height of the British Empire, the taste for stories of adventurer in these unknown places gave birth to many well-known adventures. Hope placed a new twist, though still involving a member of the British military who had been to those far off lands. The Prisoner of Zenda is set in a European country, though not any better known. The country though matters little. Adventure is the key.
I have read the book, and I did find I very enjoyable. More recently viewed the acclaimed film adaptation, and I thought I would share some thoughts on it since it is fresh in my mind.
The 1937 film adaptation of The Prisoner of Zenda may even surpass the original in publicity if not in substance. The plot follows the conventions of the ordinary man placed in a situation that quickly becomes far more than he bargained for. The unassuming and modest Rudolf Rassendyll has recently retired from military service and is looking forward to a vacation in Easter Europe. As soon as he arrives, he finds that he is a sight to the locals, who all gawk at his very presence. Rudolf finds out that he is the very image of the crown prince, soon to be crowned King Rudolf V. Upon this meeting, the two Rudolfs become quick friends.