Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin [Sissi: The Young Empress] (1956)

Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin
Director: Ernst Marischka
Writer: Ernst Marischka
Sequel to: Sissi
Cast: Romy Schneider, Karlheinz Böhm, Magda Schneider, Gustav Knuth, Vilma Degischer, Josef Meinrad, Walther Reyer, Senta Wengraf
Seen on: 24.5.2019

Sissi (Romy Schneider) and Franz Josef (Karlheinz Böhm) are married now and Sissi is trying to adjust to life as an Empress. But neither her wild spirit, nor her overbearing mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie (Vilma Degischer) makes this particularly easy for her. Especially when Sophie tries to take Sissi’s daughter away from her. That there are tensions between Austria and Hungary that put Franz Josef under a lot of pressure doesn’t help either. Sissi has a great love for Hungary and intervenes on their behalf, especially for the passionate Count Andrassy (Walther Reyer) who led the rebellion.

After seeing the first Sissi movie, I felt that I needed a break with the movies because watching the film was a bit like being on drugs. I hadn’t planned to make it a three year break, but shit happens. In any case, Sissi – Die junge Kaiserin dials things up even more and worked a little less for it. But I’d still say that the films are worth watching, just for having seen them.

The film poster showing a close-up of Sissi (Romy Schneider) as well as smaller shots of her on a horse, in Hungary and with Franz Josef (Karlheinz Böhm).

The first film really hit the golden spot of kitsch: it was too much, but just enough so to be really engaging in a mind-screwing way. The second film in the trilogy overshot that goal and was simply too much for me to really be able to get into the film.

Especially Sissi’s relationship with Hungary really didn’t work for me. On the one hand, that Sissi singlehandedly makes peace with Hungary – and not because she is a clever politician or has any political aspirations, but because she is just so charming that everybody falls in love with her. On the other hand, her entire obsession with Hungary is basically fetishizing orientalism, only it feels weird to say that about Hungarians. But if we disregard the fact that Hungarians are white Europeans, that’s what it boils down to here. In any case, it made me uncomfortable as fuck, but at least Count Andrassy is very pretty.

Franz Josef (Karlheinz Böhm) and Sissi (Romy Schneider) in front of their thrones with Archduchess Sophie (Vilma Degischer).

They also try very hard to make Franz Josef look good in the fight between his wife and his mother and that just doesn’t work. He cowardly refuses to take a stance and that is not some kind of wonderful diplomacy and you can’t sell it as such.

Despite those things, watching how Austria liked to show itself in the 50s – ignoring our fascism and going straight back to the good old times when we were an empire and things were still okay (for some people) – is still a ride. We basically mythologized out of responsibility with the Sissi movies and it’s astonishing to watch.

Sissi (Romy Schneider) in the palace.

Summarizing: fascinating, albeit not as much as the first film.

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