Gavrilo Princip

All the history books say the same thing, accurate enough, that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, beginning a cascade of events that led to miserable World War I (over 17 million dead). That war left behind a bitter pill for Germans to swallow, regurgitated eventually as Nazi-ism, and the even bloodier World War II.

“Life just turns on a dime,” as the country song says.

Yes, Gavrilo Princip shot and killed the Archduke and his wife. He was one of a number of radicals lying in wait the day that Franz Ferdinand’s procession travelled an advertised route.

And therein lies the rub, because the procession, attacked earlier in the day by a bomb which fell short of its goal, changed route, and later went down a side street unexpectedly. And for whatever reason–some say a mechanical hiccup– came to a dead stop in front of a working man’s cafe. Where the angry Princip had just enjoyed a sandwich, looked up astonished to see the Archduke just in front of him, and fired shots into him and the Duchess before anyone could react. That quickly, history changed.

One popular historian says the colossal coincidence of the Archduke’s assassination would be like Lee Harvey Oswald missing his chance at JFK at Dealey Plaza, drowning his disappointing in a drink at a Dallas bar, and emerging to the street to find that Kennedy’s limo had taken a wrong turn, and stalled in front of him, presenting a second chance at Kennedy at point blank range.

Well, not quite, but the whole affair was one hell of a coincidence. Or was it?

The film “Sarajevo.” in German with subtitles, is worth the look for its historical feel.

We won’t offer spoilers of what the film suggests, although be clear the historical record supports no single, clear theory.

It’s a film that delights in mystery, which is what we offer.