|Format:||2 x two hours|
Cristiana Capotondi (SISI)
Martina Gedeck (THE LIVES OF OTHERS)
Herbert Knaup (RUN LOLA RUN, THE LIVES OF OTHERS)
|Directed by:||Xaver Schwarzenberger|
|Produced by:||EOS Entertainment, Sunset Austria and Publispei in association with ZDF, ORF, RAI and Beta|
SisiThe new face of the legendary Empress of Hearts
1853. The Austrian Empire has quelled the revolutionary stirrings of 1848, but the tension remains palpable. At the elegant spa of Bad Ischl, young Emperor Franz Joseph has something else than unruly provinces on his mind: love. Though his mother Archduchess Sophie wants him to marry the young Bavarian Princess Helene, it is Helene's spirited, life-loving younger sister Elisabeth - called Sisi - who captures Franz Joseph's heart. In a move untypical of the strictly raised emperor, Franz Joseph defies his mother and decides to marry Sisi.
After a sumptuous wedding in Vienna, court life once again takes hold of Franz Joseph - and stifles the freedom-loving, liberal-minded Sisi. Especially tense are her relations with her mother-in-law Sophie, who does not appreciate Sisi's unconventional ways and intends to tame the "wild" young woman... But Sisi forges onward, provoking admiration as well as disapproval. Her interest in politics leads to differences of opinion between her and the Emperor, which put their love to the test.
The Emperor can no longer turn a blind eye to the problems in his realm: revolution is in the air, and the conflict between Franz Joseph and Sisi grows when the charismatic Hungarian revolutionary Count Andrassy wins Sisi over to his cause. Franz Joseph then decides to involve Sisi more closely in the political life of the empire and takes her on official visits abroad, to Italy and Hungary. But while they're in Budapest, tragedy strikes: the couple's youngest daughter Sophie falls ill and dies...
Though profoundly shaken by her daughter's death, Sisi continues to fulfill her duties as wife, mother and Empress. War now looms over the Empire, and Franz Joseph hopes for the support of the French Emperor Napoleon III in his struggle to subdue the renegade Italian provinces. But Napoleon betrays Austria...
Sisi's domestic life also offers her little comfort, for she now openly opposes her mother-in-law on the issue of raising her son Rudolf. With Franz Joseph's assent, Sophie wins this battle and subjects the Crown Prince to a rigid education. Sisi feels relegated to the sidelines, her views unwanted, her wishes unheeded. She tries to find peace in Venice...
Finally, Franz Joseph rebels against his mother and removes little Rudolf from the military academy. This gesture alone is enough to prove how much he loves Sisi, who returns to the court more self-confident and dazzling than ever before. She now has the power to play an active role in determining the politics of the Empire, and soon intervenes in the conflict between Austria and Hungary. Wide-ranging concessions to the Hungarians prevent the Empire's collapse and lets Sisi and Franz Joseph look to the future with confidence...
The two-part miniseries is a production of superlatives that recreates 19th-century life at historical locations such as the Vienna Hofburg, Schönbrunn and Laxenburg Palaces, Eckertsau Palace, Brunnsee Palace, as well as on the Lido and in the streets of Venice. For the scenes at Miramare Palace in Italy, a historical ship was brought expressly to Trieste. Particular attention was lavished on the 20 coaches drawn by 100 horses. The golden wedding coach is an original six-horse carriage of 1740 lent by the Archbishop of Olomouc. The production also required 2,000 extras and about 700 costumes, including 40 different dresses for Sisi alone. Historical battle reenactors were hired to provide authenticity for the battles of Königgrätz and Solferino.
A "Sisi" for the 21st Century
Award-winning director Xaver Schwarzenberger has proven his expertise in bringing historical subjects to vibrant life. In this production, he is supported by a stellar cast and crew topped by Italian up-and-coming talent Cristiana Capotondi as Sisi, and featuring international star Martina Gedeck (The Lives of Others) as Sisi's formidable mother-in-law. "Sisi" builds on the high emotional impact that has made the "Sissi" films one of the most successful fairy tales of modern times. As to the spelling of the Empress's nickname, Schwarzenberger explains that it was actually spelled "Sisi" at the time.
"Our Sisi is a modern, exciting story about a person with depth? Sisi was an idol, a pop star and a style icon at a time when these words didn't even exist. With her rebellious courage to stand up for her convictions, Sisi can still be a role model today." (Xaver Schwarzenberger)