Sissi (film)

Last updated
Sissi
Sissi film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ernst Marischka
Produced by Karl Ehrlich  [ de ]
Ernst Marischka
Written byErnst Marischka
Starring Romy Schneider
Karlheinz Böhm
Magda Schneider
Uta Franz  [ de ]
Gustav Knuth
Josef Meinrad
Vilma Degischer
Peter Weck
Music by Anton Profes
Release date
  • 22 December 1955 (1955-12-22)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryAustria
LanguageGerman

Sissi is a 1955 Austrian film directed by Ernst Marischka and starring Romy Schneider, Karlheinz Böhm, Magda Schneider, Uta Franz, Gustav Knuth, Vilma Degischer and Josef Meinrad. Sissi is the first installment in the trilogy of films about Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was known to her family as "Sisi" (with one s and therefore a long /i:/). It was followed by The Young Empress and Fateful Years of an Empress .

Ernst Marischka was an Austrian screenwriter and film director. He wrote for 93 films between 1913 and 1962. He also directed 29 films between 1915 and 1962. He wrote and directed the Sissi trilogy - Sissi (1955), Sissi - The Young Empress (1956) and Sissi - Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin (1957). The films were based on the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. He was the brother of Hubert Marischka. He was named for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1946, for A Song to Remember (1945).

Romy Schneider German-French actress

Romy Schneider was a film actress born in Vienna and raised in Germany who held German and French citizenship. She started her career in the German Heimatfilm genre in the early 1950s when she was 15. From 1955 to 1957, she played the central character of Empress Elisabeth of Austria in the Austrian Sissi trilogy, and later reprised the role in a more mature version in Visconti's Ludwig. Schneider moved to France, where she made successful and critically acclaimed films with some of the most notable film directors of that era.

Karlheinz Böhm Austrian actor

Karlheinz Böhm, sometimes referred to as Carl Boehm or Karl Boehm, was an Austrian-German actor and philanthropist. He took part in 45 films and became well known in Austria and Germany for his role as Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in the Sissi trilogy and internationally for his role as Mark, the psychopathic protagonist of Peeping Tom, directed by Michael Powell. He was the founder of the trust Menschen für Menschen, which helps people in need in Ethiopia. He also received honorary Ethiopian citizenship in 2003.

Contents

Plot

Portrait of the young empress shortly after her wedding, by Amanda Bergstedt [sv
] Amanda Bergstedt 001.jpg
Portrait of the young empress shortly after her wedding, by Amanda Bergstedt  [ sv ]

Princess Elisabeth, nicknamed "Sissi", is the second oldest daughter of Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria and Princess Ludovika of Bavaria. She is a carefree, impulsive and nature-loving child. She is raised with her seven siblings at the family seat Possenhofen Castle on the shores of Lake Starnberg in Bavaria. She has a happy childhood free of constraints associated with her royal status.

Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria Bavarian politician

Duke Maximilian Joseph in Bavaria, known informally as Max in Bayern, was a member of a junior branch of the House of Wittelsbach and a promoter of Bavarian folk-music. He is most famous today as the father of Empress Elisabeth of Austria ("Sisi") and great-grandfather of King Leopold III of Belgium.

Princess Ludovika of Bavaria Duchess in Bavaria

Princess Ludovika of Bavaria was the sixth child of King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and his second wife, Karoline of Baden, and the mother of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. She was born and died in Munich.

Possenhofen Castle château

Possenhofen Castle is located in the town of Possenhofen on the western shore of Lake Starnberg in Bavaria, Germany.

With her mother and her demure older sister Helene (called "Néné"), 16-year-old Sissi travels from Possenhofen to the spa town of Bad Ischl in Upper Austria. Ludovika's sister, Archduchess Sophie, is the mother of the young emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria. Helene is called by Archduchess Sophie to meet the young emperor Franz Joseph in the imperial villa so that the two might be immediately engaged. Sissi is unaware of the real reason for the journey and is forbidden by her aunt to participate in any social events due to her girlishly impetuous ways.

Duchess Helene in Bavaria Bavarian princess

Helene Caroline Therese, Duchess in Bavaria of the House of Wittelsbach, nicknamed Néné, was a Bavarian princess and, through marriage, temporarily the head of the Thurn and Taxis family.

Spa town specialized resort town situated around a mineral spa

A spa town is a resort town based on a mineral spa. Patrons visit spas to "take the waters" for their purported health benefits. The word spa is derived from the name of Spa, a town in Belgium.

Bad Ischl Place in Upper Austria, Austria

Bad Ischl[baːt ˈɪʃl̩] is a spa town in Austria. It lies in the southern part of Upper Austria, at the Traun River in the centre of the Salzkammergut region. The town consists of the Katastralgemeinden Ahorn, Bad Ischl, Haiden, Jainzen, Kaltenbach, Lauffen, Lindau, Pfandl, Perneck, Reiterndorf and Rettenbach. It is connected to the village of Strobl by the river Ischl, which drains from the Wolfgangsee, and to the Traunsee, into which the stream empties.

The young emperor Franz Joseph in Hungarian uniform (1853, by Miklos Barabas) KaiserFranzjosef1853-1-.jpg
The young emperor Franz Joseph in Hungarian uniform (1853, by Miklós Barabás)

Sissi spends her time fishing in the forest where by chance she meets Franz Josef. The emperor is unaware that the girl is his cousin Sissi. He takes a liking to her and invites her for an afternoon hunting trip in the Alps. They meet as arranged in the mountains where they talk and become acquainted. Sissi falls in love with him but does not reveal her true identity. During their trip, Sissi learns of the planned marriage between Franz Joseph with her sister. The Emperor confesses that he envies the man who will marry Sissi and confesses that he feels no connection to Néné. Upon hearing his indirect declaration of love, Sissi becomes distraught due to her loyalty to Néné. She runs away from Franz Joseph without any explanation.

Alps Major mountain range system in Central Europe

The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching approximately 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres (13,000 ft).

When Sissi returns to their residence, Néné reveals the reason for the trip to Bad Ischl: to become engaged with Franz Joseph. Unexpectedly, a new guest, the Prince of Lippe, arrives and Sissi is invited by the Archduchess to act as his partner at the Emperor's birthday celebration. At his birthday party, Franz Joseph is suddenly confronted by Sissi's appearance there with her mother and sister. He realises who Sissi is and tries to talk to her, openly confessing his love and asking her to marry him. Sissi rejects Franz Joseph in order not to betray her sister. He defies his mother's reservations and Sissi's resistance and announces, to the surprise of his guests, his betrothal to Sissi. Néné is heartbroken and leaves the party crying. Sissi, in a state of shock, is forced to obey the Emperor's wishes.

In Possenhofen, preparations for the wedding have started. Sissi is not excited about her impending marriage, as the hurt Néné has left for an indefinite period. For her sister's sake, Sissi attempts to break her engagement, however, Néné returns with a new suitor, Maximilian Anton, Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis. The sisters reunite and Néné gives her blessing to Sissi for her marriage.

Maximilian Anton, Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis German prince

Maximilian Anton Lamoral, Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis, full German name: Maximilian Anton Lamoral Erbprinz von Thurn und Taxis was the Hereditary Prince of Thurn and Taxis from birth until his death in 1867.

For the wedding ceremony, Sissi travels with her family on the steamboat "Franz Joseph" down the Danube to Vienna. People line the banks, waving flags and cheering their future Empress. As part of a grand procession, Sissi enters the city in a gilded carriage. The wedding takes place in the Augustinian Church on April 24, 1854.

Cast

Filming locations

Sissi was filmed in some original places the Empress visited, including Schönbrunn Palace and the Kaiservilla in Bad Ischl. The scenes of her youth on Lake Starnberg, however, were actually filmed at Schloss Fuschl at Lake Fuschl in the Salzkammergut region because Possenhofen Castle was in a poor condition at the time. The wedding celebration was filmed at St. Michael's Church, Vienna.

Reception

An early movie about the life of the empress was The King Steps Out , a 1936 American light comedy film directed by Josef von Sternberg, starring Grace Moore. Since the rights to the original play Sissys Brautfahrt by Ernst Décsey and Robert Weil aka Gustav Holm were bought from Marischka by Columbia Pictures, he bought instead the novel Sissi from Marie Blank-Eisman, published in 1952. Marischka then adapted the script based on the novel.

Sissi was viewed by 20 to 25 million people in cinemas. It is one of the most successful German-language movies. The movie was followed by The Young Empress in 1956 and Fateful Years of an Empress in 1957. In 1962, a condensed version of the trilogy was released in English under the title Forever My Love. The trilogy is a popular Christmas television special, and is shown on channels in German-speaking countries and Hungary. [1] The Empress' date of birth on Christmas Eve 1837 adds to the appeal of the film as a Christmas special.

The success of the movie marked Empress Elisabeth's entrance to popular culture which made the historical figure even more legendary. The popularity of the films attracted tourists to places which were associated with the Empress, specifically those in Austria. The popularity also led to the creation of the 1992 musical Elisabeth , which became the most successful German-language musical of all time. The trilogy was parodied in the 2007 animated film Lissi .

Romy Schneider's role as Elisabeth is considered her acting breakthrough. She became synonymous with her role in the film, even as she progressed in her acting career. Schneider reprised the role of Elisabeth in Luchino Visconti's 1972 film Ludwig , this time portraying the Empress as a mature yet cynical woman.

The films have been dubbed in languages including French, English, Spanish and Japanese. Sissi was very popular when it aired on Mainland Chinese television in the 1980s. [2]

Notes

  1. "Sissi I. – A magyarok királynéja", port.hu
  2. Osnos, Evan. "The Grand Tour." The New Yorker . April 18, 2011. 6. Retrieved on May 19, 2012.

Further reading

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