The Mystery of Oberwald

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The Mystery of Oberwald
The Mystery of Oberwald DVD.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni
Produced by Alessandro von Norman
Written by
Music by Guido Turchi
Cinematography Luciano Tovoli
Edited by Michelangelo Antonioni
Distributed by Cidif
Release dates
  • 3 September 1981 (1981-09-03) (Italy)
  • 30 September 1981 (1981-09-30) (USA)
Running time
129 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian

The Mystery of Oberwald (Italian: Il mistero di Oberwald) is a 1981 Italian drama film written, directed, and edited by Michelangelo Antonioni and starring Monica Vitti, Paolo Bonacelli, and Franco Branciaroli. Based on the 1946 play L'Aigle à deux têtes by Jean Cocteau, the film is about a man who breaks into the castle at Oberwald to kill the queen but faints before doing so. The man's physical resemblance to the murdered king leads to a strange turn of events.[1] The Mystery of Oberwald received the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon in 1982.[2]


During the nineteenth century, a young radical poet named Sebastian (Franco Branciaroli) breaks into an old dilapidated castle in Oberwald on a dark stormy night intending to kill the queen and free his country. The queen (Monica Vitti) has been in mourning for ten years for her husband the king who was assassinated on their wedding day. Sebastian, who faints before he can kill the queen, is the spit and image of the assassinated king. Sebastian and the queen talk, and the queen discovers that Sebastian once wrote a subversive poem that she liked, even though it was attacking her. The queen dares Sebastian to kill her, otherwise she vows to kill him.


  • Monica Vitti as The Queen
  • Paolo Bonacelli as Count of Foehn
  • Franco Branciaroli as Sebastian
  • Elisabetta Pozzi as Edith de Berg
  • Luigi Diberti as Willenstein
  • Amad Saha Alan as Tony, the manservant[3]


Upon its theatrical release, The Mystery of Oberwald received generally negative reviews. In his review in The New York Times, Vincent Canby called it "a movie that probably wouldn't last five minutes in front of an audience in control of its wits and with no more than a passing interest in Art for its own sake."[4] Canby concluded, "The only thing that makes The Mystery of Oberwald bearable is watching the Italian director's attempts to use video color techniques that are supposed to make more dramatic a fairly conventional narrative."[4]

On the review aggregator web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 57% positive rating from critics based on 7 reviews, and a 35% positive audience rating based on 339 user ratings.[5]


  • 1982 Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Mystery of Oberwald". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Awards for The Mystery of Oberwald". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "Full cast and crew for The Mystery of Oberwald". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (September 30, 1981). "Antonioni's 'The Mystery of Oberwald'". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "The Mystery of Oberwald". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 

External links[edit]