The second in a trilogy of movies about Elisabeth "Sissi" of Austria, the film chronicles the married life of the young empress as she tries to adjust to formal and strict life in the palace and an overbearing mother-in-law.
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16 year old princess Elisabeth, 'Sissi', follows her mother and sister Helene to the Austrian court in Ischl, where the engagement between Helene and the young emperor Franz Josef will be announced. But he meets Sissi when she's out fishing and falls in love with her. Sissi also loves Franz Josef but a marriage with him comes with a bonus, his arrogant and headstrong mother. Written by
I have seen these films over and over again, probably already more than fifty times. This is the first of a series of three Austrian films, produced in 1954 ("Sissi"), 1955 ("Sissi-die junge Kaiserin") and 1956 ("Sissi-Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin"), directed by Ernst Marishka, and are the epitome of total kitsch and enormously campy. I know that these films are almost unknown outside of continental Europe, but still, they are worth seeing! Played by a very young Romy Schneider - a role that stuck to her, much to her chagrin in later years. The trilogy is about the life of the Austrian Empress and Hungarian Queen Elizabeth (1837-1898) - or "Sissi" - in the first years of her marriage to the Austrian Emperor and 'Apostolic' King of Hungary Franz-Joseph I (1830-1916) - played by Karl-Heinz Böhm. Although the writers did fib frightfully with the historical truths (read for those "Elisabeth", the biography written by Brigitte Hamann), still, the sugar sweetness, the crinolines, the music and the grandeur of the scenes is breathtaking. However, my favourite character in the film is "Sissi's" mother-in-law, archduchess Sophie, played very ably by Vilma Degischer. Sophie is portrayed as a complete bitch of a woman (which in reality she was, after she managed to save the Habsburg monarchy single-handedly from the revolutionary mobs in 1848), something Joan Collins would be able to take lessons from... My most favourite scene is the closing scene of the third movie: "E viva la mama!" - where Sissi is reunited with her daughter on Venice's Piazza San Marco. Watch it, and have lots of handkerchiefs ready for use (if you're a closeted romantic like myself, that is!).
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