Cinema and TV: Sissi celebrates a comeback!

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The rebellious empress, once played by Romy Schneider, returns in various productions for the small and big screen.

Vicky Krieps in the role of Sissi in the film “Corsage”.

DR

She was Lady Di of the 19th century and 125 years after her death, Sissi, a rebellious empress with a tragic fate, is once again inspiring directors in search of an avant-garde and romantic female personality.

No fewer than two feature films and two series are currently returning to the life of Elisabeth de Wittelsbach (1837-1898), who was immortalized in the cinema in kitsch mode by Romy Schneider after the Second World War.

All eyes will be on Friday’s preview presentation of the film ‘Corsage’ on the Croisette in Cannes, while another project is expected in Austria in the autumn.

And the series “Sissi”, created by the German broadcaster RTL+, which will be broadcast in France at the end of 2021, is entitled to a sequel after a critically acclaimed first season, while Netflix will soon deliver its version with “The Empress”.

A renewed interest, driven by a desire to “find more women’s stories,” explains actress Dominique Devenport, who lent her features across the Rhine to the Empress of Austria in her youth.

first star

Married to François-Joseph at just 16, Sissi, a glamor star in permanent cover, lived an “extreme and painful” life, constantly subjected to the strict protocols of the Habsburg court.

“How do you stay yourself, what decisions do you make, how do you meet expectations?” So many questions that reflect very topical issues, emphasizes the 26-year-old actress.

Especially since Sissi “went down in history at the time of the advent of the mass media”, Sissi was “one of the first women to be confronted with immense fame in Europe”, recalls the historian Martina Winkelhofer, author of a book about this iconic personality.

Romy Schneider, the most famous Sissi interpreter in the cinema, here with Karlheinz Böhm.

Romy Schneider, the most famous Sissi interpreter in the cinema, here with Karlheinz Böhm.

Alliance Pictures

The invention of photography accelerated the fame of this excellent horsewoman: “Suddenly you could really see an emperor’s wife,” she continues.

Sissi was a pioneer in using her image for political purposes, working for the union with Hungary and trying to control it until she became obsessed.

She escaped the court’s gaze through secret passages, taking refuge in the elegant Villa Hermès, in the heart of a hunting ground near Vienna, which her husband made available.

The museum’s curator, Michaela Lindeinger, shows custom-made sports equipment with which she can preserve the extremely slim silhouette of an eternally young girl.

Myth in rose water

Here she spent the last years of her life in seclusion after the suicide of the heir to the throne, her son Rodolphe, in 1889.

There, in his bedroom, you can still see the morbid statue of a woman with a mourning veil, a symbol of the melancholy that accompanied her until she was murdered at the age of 60 by an Italian anarchist.

It is this Sissi at the end of her reign, frustrated by a system that never allowed her to express an opinion, that Vicky Krieps plays in the drama that will be screened in the Un Certain Regard selection at Cannes this year.

On the antipode of Romy Schneider, the Luxembourger embodies an empress who despairs of emancipation from her husband and has no desire to go to court.

Sissi, a feminist biopic directed by Marie Kreutzer, appears there as a melancholy woman who only manages to escape when she leaves Vienna, far from the eyes of François-Joseph, who denies her any interference in the life of the Empire.

Enough to break the rosy myth of a pretty fairytale princess whose existence consists of travel and glamor and who has earned her the adornment of chocolate boxes in museum shops.

Because even today tourists consume a dream of sequins and waltzes sold in Vienna, under the gilding of the imperial apartments, which even attracts China, where Sissi is still worshiped.

The rights to the German series were acquired in Brazil and in Central and Eastern Europe. This variety of facets allows “every era to have its own Sissi”, sums up Martina Winkelhofer.

(AFP)


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