On December 24, 1837, the Princess Elizaveta of Bavaria was born, the legendary Sissi, who became the wife of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary Franz Josef I. One of the most interesting women of her time, a poetess, a professional rider, already led a way of life typical for modern well-off ladies: endless diets, sports, constant trips to the sunny corners of Europe ...
But the world's glory really came to the empress years after her death, in the middle of the last century, when the famous Austrian cinema trilogy appeared on the screen: “Sissi,” “Sissi - the Young Empress,” and “Sissi – the Fateful Years of an Empress.” The image of a naive princess who became one of the most influential women in Europe was embodied by Romy Schneider. This role brought the young actress worldwide glory, no less than the glory of the Sissi herself.
"Guten Morgen, Empress!"
The films were very popular, especially in Germany and Austria. You bet, all audience was tired at heart when, at last, in the eighth minute of the film (!) on the ardent stallion and in a red dress, the Princess Sissy bursts onto the scene, she is seventeen Romy Schneider, shouting “Guten Morgen!”
And how pathetically she feeds a young deer from the bottle! And how her blue eyes flare up when she exclaims "never" in response to the offer of the hand and heart from the young emperor! And how she cutely and directly says "you" to his mother! And the phrase "My favorite pastime is riding, my favorite flowers are red roses, and my favorite delicacy is the apple strudel!" – they were known by heart and repeated by all the girls of Germany and Austria.
The most captivating detail of these films, in addition to Romy Schneider, is the fact that much in this story is true. After all, the girl Sissy was actually taken for the engagement of the elder beautiful sister with the emperor for the company sake, and the young monarch unexpectedly preferred to make a proposal for the youngest. The only thing is that the scene where future spouses met each other – Sissi was fishing and accidentally hooked him on the hook - was invented by writers.
And another important aspect: Sissi is German, the daughter of Bavarian Duke, who became the empress beloved by all in another country, a kind of "Princess Diana" of the century. Sissy-Schneider, undoubtedly, was part of the image campaign of the 1950s, designed to rehabilitate the Germans in the eyes of the whole world after the Second World War.
Indeed, in a country that has recently got rid of starvation rations, which only reveals the charm of consumption, it was pleasant to look at the well-fed Sissi’s family. By the way, the joint eating of Bavarian sausages in the film is shown almost as the first scene. As the Germans wanted to be seen then as such: frivolous hilarious jokers, hunters, and nature lovers but not ruthless invaders.
Romy-Sissi or Sissi-Romy
The characters of Sissi and ruddy emperor with dimples on the cheeks so "stuck" to Romy Schneider and Karlheinz Bohm, that both actors of the leading roles tried to wash them off during all their life, which may have caused some eccentric acts. So, Romy Schneider married Alain Delon and became the star of French cinema. And Bohm was relieved to play the serial killer.
Unfortunately, the word "kitsch" sounded right after the release of the first film about Sissi on the screens. Indeed, to watch the last third of the first film without rewinding, one must be a very sentimental person: The intrigue was safely resolved and Sissi in a white dress (they say, it was Elizabeth of Austria who introduced the vogue of white wedding dresses) and a red robe, waving with her hand, floats and floats on a steamship, and the Austrian people rejoice in this moment on the bank. This is "too thick," as they say now on the Internet. But who will raise a hand against this "kitsch" after sixty years have passed?
What Was It?
And what about the real Sissi? It was a woman who was not allowed to raise her own children, who could not find the strength to spend at least a couple of months in a stifling atmosphere of the Habsburg Vienna. She was one of the main beauties of her era (and the first thing that catches one’s eye on the best of her portraits is her hair flowing all over her body to the knees). Sissi was wildly afraid to grow fat and daily exhausted herself with many hours of training. She was indifferent to the carnal side of love: in spite of the fact that she spent only a few weeks with her husband a year, none of her intrigues were proved, all rumors, of course.
In general, based on the modern day information, it was a normal woman, with craving for everything natural and healthy, which fell into an absolutely unhealthy environment. And since she could not change the situation, she tried to escape from it, mainly spending time outside the empire.
But the reality caught up with her: first through the suicide of the son-heir of the throne, and then – through her own death by the hand of an anarchist, who stabbed her with a knife. The last words of the empress were: "But what’s wrong with me?" And really, what?