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Ernst Marischka: Sissi


The Sissi Movies of 1950s still have enjoyed a high popularity. Anybody who sees the first part, Sissi (1955) can get to know the story of the adventurous encounter of Sissi, Duchess of Bavaria and Franz, the Emperor of Austria, which ends up with a marriage. The screen makes us think that it was love at first sight. In the movie, while fishing the young Sissi does not catch a fish but the Emperor of Austria himself at the riverside. A very funny and entertaining scene but it has nothing to do with the reality. However, it is the plain fact that the Emperor fell in love with the young girl at first sight, which made him strong enough to confront his beloved mother, Archduchess Sophie - for the first time.

Sissi (1955) - Photo credit: Seven Stars Digital

Ernst Marischka’s Sissi films reflect the taste of the Austrian public of the 1950s. The aim of the trilogy was to make the audience forget about the horrors of the Second World War while watching it. Since then, it has been one of the most successful German-speaking films in the world.

Sissi (1955) is the first part of the trilogy, which is followed by two sequels, Sissi - The Young Empress (1956) and Sissi - Fateful Years of an Empress (1957). The fourth part was also planned, however, Romy Schneider refused to be the young Empress Sissi again. (Read more about it: Romy Schneider, the Empress of People’s Heart) The movies do not have much to do with the historical reality, the first part follows the chronological order more than the subsequent two. Even if the main facts are proper, if somewhat incomplete, the chronological order is totally disrupted, especially in the subsequent two movies.

Sissi - The Young Empress (1956) - Photo credit: Seven Stars Digital

Sissi was first broadcast in the Austrian cinemas on 22 December, 1955. In Hungary, this popular cult trilogy is on one of the Hungarian TV channels every Christmas remembering perhaps unwittingly of Elisabeth's birthday since the Bavarian Duchess was born on 24 December, 1837. One can calculate that Elisabeth was fifteen and a half years old when meeting Franz (August, 1853).

After seeing the film starring Romy Schneider then having a look at a painting or a photograph of the Empress, many say "she was not as beautiful as in the movie!" This might be true at least as far as the young Sisi is concerned. Elisabeth did not consider herself as a beauty either at that time or during the first years of their marriage. When she was informed by her mother, Ludovica that it was her and not Helene, the older sister, who the Emperor wanted to marry, she was extremely surprised and said "I do not understand at all how the Emperor could think of me. I am so young and insignificant. " (Corti, 23)

 To be continued... Some surprising facts or “accidents”

THE COTILLION - "I think I was dancing with our future Empress" 

Sissi - The Young Empress (1956) - Photo credit: Seven Stars Digital

Works Cited:
Hamann, Brigitte. The Reluctant Empress. A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Ullstein, 2000
Count Corti Egon. Erzsébet. Révai Kadás, Budapest, 1935