Princess Sissi, what the hell of a woman: the dark side of the fairy tale

Sensual. Rebel. Obsessed with thinness to fit into ever tighter clothes. The Empress of Austria lands on Netflix, at the cinema and in bookstores. And she makes a scandal

  sissi-imperatrice-series-tv-netlix The Duchess Sissi, between reality (period) and fiction (tv) Photo

The Habsburg star, the first real royal celebrity. The Duchess Elisabeth of Bavaria, better known as Sissi, later crowned Empress of Austria, became a legend thanks to a saccharine trilogy of films from the 1950s, in which Romy Schneider cultivates the image of a romantic and somewhat fairy-tale princess. The true story of her, so far, has not reached the general public. But this autumn will be Sissi-mania, between films, TV series and books that will reveal a dark side hitherto gone unnoticed - Photo

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LIKE A HEROIN OF OUR DAY – Sissi lovers may not like Marie Kreutzer's Empress Dress (in theaters on December 7 after its debut in Cannes), which exposes her as a rebellious, restless woman, refractory to the strict rules of the court, full of obsessions . The naive sixteen year old who marries Emperor Franz Joseph out of love and produces four heirs (two will die while she is still alive), hardens in just a few years spent at the court of Vienna, repressed by her mother-in-law, the Archduchess Sofia, and by the courtiers who treat her with contempt. She and she suffocated by the corset (original title is Corset ), which he insists on tightening every day until he can't breathe to reach a 45-centimetre waist. Because Sissi is also the first royal to undergo body-shaming, she to fall victim to the expectations of the court that always claim her to be beautiful, thin, young.

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The film is set in 1877 when she turns 40 and feels on the road to decline. She is devastated by eating disorders and drastic slimming treatments (based on oranges and beef broth), obsessed with physical activity (she has rings, weights and bars installed in all her residences), eaten alive by her husband's betrayals that lead her flirting with strangers, entertaining suicidal fantasies and feeling deeply unhappy, just like a more modern princess, Lady Diana. The comparison fits like a glove. Because alongside Sissi's fragile appearance, the rebellious one also emerges, sometimes shocking and anachronistic. She who masturbates in the bathroom, she who smokes, who takes heroin and calls her husband a 'c..e'. The director has taken some liberties but the figure of Sissi comes out reinvigorated. A postmodern feminist who decides to get off her prison pedestal.

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'The film is a kind of shock therapy that freed Sissi from Romyschneiderisation,' wrote the critic of the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. The TV series Sissi, which aired on Canale 5 last December, had already ushered in a new 'Sissinian' era and had caused a stir in Germany for having candidly portrayed the sexuality of the empress. She also recounted the stormy marriage and the coldness of the Habsburgs who considered her only a broodmare.

NEW SERIES ON YOUR NETFLIX – But a new series, The Empress , broadcast on Netflix from September 29, promises to explore the birth of passion between the young Bavarian duchess and the emperor, first cousins ​​and therefore forced to ask for special permission to get married. The initial passion was fulminating. But the intrigues of the court, her enemies and, above all, her mother-in-law, had poisoned the relationship until it cracked. The series is highly anticipated and Netflix hopes to repeat the successes of other period dramas like Bridgerton. The translation of the musical Elisabeth is also awaited, which in Germany and abroad, between 1992 and 2019, noted the Guardian of London, attracted more than 10 million spectators, mainly in Japan, where Sissi has become a cult figure. The novel has just been released in bookstores in Germany before being translated into several languages Sissi by Karen Duve (for Galiani Berlin). The author defines the empress as the first feminist icon of the 19th century, rediscovered only now. Always too far ahead of her times and yet still underestimated, Duve talks about her passions, especially those for horses and dressage. But also the more ambiguous one of her for her eighteen-year-old niece Marie Wallersee, with whom she competes to play the femme fatale and seduce the nobles of the court.