The Conrad Veidt Society

By Barbara Peterson

Carlos und Elisabeth--


[The Players] [The Plot] Stills [Production History] [My Review] [Notes of Interest] [Videos]


Released in 1924. Directed by Robert Oswald. Costume construction H. J. Kaufman. Cameraman: Theodor Sparkuhl.


Prologue: King Charles V of Spain is old, weak, and suspects his son Philip of plotting against him. When Philip finally deigns to answer the summons of the court, he strides up and literally throws his father from the throne. Charles is helped to his feet by his grandson, takes off his crown, and gives it to Philip. The Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition enters and bestows his approval. After a moment of weakness, Philip pursues the inquisition against the heretics with great dispatch.

Don Carlos as a boy helps his grandfather, Charles V, rise to his feet.

Act One: Some twenty years later, Philip is hated by the people and most of the nobility. The Marquis of Posa, who is a great friend of Carlos, the Spanish infanta; plots to overthrow Philip's rule in Flanders. He rides for the palace in Madrid.

In the vast grounds of the palace of Madrid, Don Carlos writes a note to Princess Elisabeth (which, unfortunately, he heads only, Dear Princess) asking her to meet him in the huge Garden Maze behind the house. He summons a page and tells the boy to give the note to the Princess. The Page finds a group of ladies walking in the garden, and there are two Princesses. The Page gives the note to the wrong woman. Later, Elisabeth stalks past Carlos in anger, while Princess Eboli comes up to him in ecstasy. Because of this turn of events, Carlos isn't too interested in listening to Posa when he arrives to discuss matters of state. Then, King Philip of Spain arrives, and asks Elisabeth how she'd like to become Queen of  Spain. Elisabeth assumes that Philip means that she's to marry his son (who is her age) and will become Queen when he becomes King. But when Philip kisses her on the lips, she realizes he wants her to marry him>. She's too stunned to speak or protest. When Carlos hears of this, he is distraught.

Days later, the marriage has taken place and King and Queen sit on their thrones, while the nobility pass by and make their bows. Carlos is the last man to walk by. The King and Queen leave, and Carlos collapses on the floor. The King walks back into the room and goes to him. ''Father, I love Elisabeth!'' ''You are banned from Madrid!''. The King turns his back and walks away. Carlos draws his sword and creeps after him for a few seconds, but finally bows in defeat.

Act Two: After only seven months, Queen Elisabeth gives birth to a baby. The King rejoices. Posa visits Carlos in his exile and suggests that he ask the King to send him to govern Flanders. After about another year, Carlos returns to Madrid. The King and Councilor Perez watch from one window of the palace, the two Princesses from another, as Carlos rides through the city through happy, cheering throngs. Perez, whispers to the king that the people are talking. A baby born after only 7 months!

Veidt as Don Carlos, Wilhelm Dieterle as Posa.

Carlos and Posa have an audience with the king. ''Send me to Flanders.'' begs Carlos. Angry, the king summons his friend, the cruel Duke of Alba. ''I am sending you to Flanders.'' Philip walks away. Carlos glares at the Duke of Alba, then draws his sword. Alba draws his sword, bloodshed is averted by Posa.

Posa goes to Elisabeth - Carlos wants to talk to her. Perez goes to the King and tells of Carlos menacing of Alba. Elisabeth waits in the garden, while Posa keeps look out. Carlos comes up to her. Meanwhile Perez and Philip enter the maze as well. ''Elisabeth, why did you marry Philip?'' ''Because...I cannot say!'' She starts to cry, he holds her. Then Posa informs them that the King is coming, and Carlos flees, leaving a glove behind. Later, Carlos is given a note - it is from Princess Eboli but he assumes this is merely cover from Elisabeth. When he goes to her room and finds Eboli waiting for him, he shuns her. Eboli vows revenge. Meanwhile Elisabeth has confronted Philip in the throne room. ''I love the prince and he loves me!'' Philip twists her down angrily, then falls to his knees in grief as she leaves the room.

Act Three: Princess Eboli seeks revenge on Carlos for spurning her. She goes through Elisabeth's belongings and finds a compromising letter. Meanwhile Carlos observes Philip and Elisabeth together, but does nothing. Philip's councilor, Perez, tells him again that the people are saying the baby can't be his. This news festers within him, and that night Philip goes into the baby's room, sends away the nurse, takes the toddler (who always cries when Philip picks him up) over to the mirror and compares their faces.

The guards in the palace begin to whisper that the ghost of Charles V walks the corridors at night. Posa begs Carlos to ask to be sent to Flanders as his father's envoy, but Carlos is too busy pining after Elisabeth. The next night the 'ghost' walks again - and is revealed to be Carlos. He enters Elisabeth's room and they embrace. Then Elisabeth recollects herself, shoves him away and goes into the next room. Princess Eboli enters. Carlos begs her to have pity on him and talk to Elisabeth for him, but she stares at him in hatred. She has already given the letter to Perez, who has given it to the king. ''You must arrest Carlos.'' Posa runs to alert Carlos, seconds before soldiers enter. Carlos draws his sword, hands it to Posa, and goes away with the soldiers without protest. Eboli confesses to Elisabeth what she has done, and that she regrets it. The two women embrace sadly.

Act Four: Posa goes to see the King, and tries to persuade him to end the Inquisition and treat the people more humanely. Philip appears convinced, and shakes Posa's hand as he exits. Then Elisabeth and Eboli go to Posa and ask his help to save Carlos. Elisabeth then goes to Philip and begs him to release Carlos, while Posa arranges for a letter to be sent - implicating him rather than Carlos in the rebellion in Flanders. Philip tears up the letter. Meanwhile the people agitate for the release of Carlos, and break into the palace. Philip runs down to the dungeon, sees Posa in the cell with Carlos (where's he's come to say goodbye. ''I've sacrificed myself to save you.''), takes a gun from one of the soldiers and shoots Posa. Carlos is overcome with grief, and calls his father an assassin.. He draws his father's sword, but then throws it contemptuously on the floor. The people arrive, massed on the dungeon steps, and force the jailers to open the cell door. They lift Carlos to their shoulders and carry him away.

Philip returns to the Queen. She affirms that she still loves Carlos, and he falls to the ground in grief. Then he heads for the offices of the Grand Inquisitor. Meanwhile the 'ghost' walks again, but it is Carlos in a cowl. He persuades Elisabeth to run away with him, and Eboli agrees to aid them. They head for the doors, pull them open and the mass of King Philip, The Grand Inquisitor, and many guards is revealed. They turn, and more guards appear from the darkness. Carlos allows them to lead him away.

Conrad Veidt

Dagny Servaes

Eugen Klöpfer

Egede Nissen

Wilhelm Dieterle

Adolf Klein

Martin Herzberg

Robert Taube
Charles V and Don Carlos

Princess, later Queen Elisabeth

Don Philip, later King Philip II

Princess Eboli

Marquis of Posa

Grand Inquisitor

Don Carlos as a boy

Duke of Alba
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