The Sissi Trilogy

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
Dave Pitts
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The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Dave Pitts » Sun Oct 15, 2017 11:58 am

TCM is set to air the Austrian-made Sissi films of the 50s -- which I'd never heard of 'til the listing came up. They sound like they are in the genre of Ruritanian romance. A full evening of this is such an investment of time -- and somehow, "50s costume picture" sounds like the death knell of enjoyment. So, who's seen these films? Are they an unexpected pleasure, a best-kept secret of initiates? Are they notable cinematically?

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Spiny Norman
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Spiny Norman » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:42 pm

Dave Pitts wrote:TCM is set to air the Austrian-made Sissi films of the 50s -- which I'd never heard of 'til the listing came up. They sound like they are in the genre of Ruritanian romance. A full evening of this is such an investment of time -- and somehow, "50s costume picture" sounds like the death knell of enjoyment. So, who's seen these films? Are they an unexpected pleasure, a best-kept secret of initiates? Are they notable cinematically?
You NEVER heard of them? Perhaps they are less known in some countries than others. The Troops of St Tropez is probably totally obscure in the USA too.

Sissi: I have the impression, from avoiding them most of my life like I would avoid leprosy, that it's in a Sound of Music - Jane Austen vein. I did not avoid those; but I strongly suspect that Sissi is much more soppy. Based on real persons and events though. Bottom line, it's very very much a girl thing.
This is nøt å signåture.™

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Donald Binks
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Donald Binks » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:39 pm

To me the "Sissi" films are wonderful. They romanticise the "good old days" of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, essentially telling the story of how the late Emperor and King Franz Josef II met and fell in love with the Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria.("Sissi" being her nickname)

I remember them as being sumptuously photographed in colour - I think it was Fuji colour? Then of course there was the beautiful Romy Schneider cast as "Sissi" and the very handsome Karlheinz Böhm as His Late Majesty. They were full of impressive uniforms, palatial residences and all the old courtesies and graces.

The films met with a very warm reception and were extremely popular on their release and are still trotted out every so often.

(There was a fourth film in the list - which is not a "Sissi" film, instead it concentrated on the early life of life of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom)
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she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

SilentsPlease
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by SilentsPlease » Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:59 am

A Blu-ray set of the films is also coming out later this month. These are said to be new restorations, and I suppose TCM will show the new prints as well. I suppose these are TCM premieres as well, as least premieres of the new prints.

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Frederica
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Frederica » Wed Oct 18, 2017 10:42 am

Dave Pitts wrote:TCM is set to air the Austrian-made Sissi films of the 50s -- which I'd never heard of 'til the listing came up. They sound like they are in the genre of Ruritanian romance. A full evening of this is such an investment of time -- and somehow, "50s costume picture" sounds like the death knell of enjoyment. So, who's seen these films? Are they an unexpected pleasure, a best-kept secret of initiates? Are they notable cinematically?
I've seen the first, it's delicious. Per the Self Styled Siren: "You won't find a bigger dose of gorgeous escapism than the SISSI films, starring ravishing Romy Schneider, @tcm starting at 8 pm ET."
Fred
"Screw the men. I've got the horse."
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Arndt
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Arndt » Wed Oct 18, 2017 11:45 am

There is nothing wrong with them, if you like that sort of thing. Gritty they are not...
After starring in the incredibly popular trilogy both Romy Schneider and Karlheinz Böhm were massively typecast as saccharine feelgood muppets. They both tried to escape this fate by playing diagonally opposite roles: Schneider romped around with Anthony Perkins in THE TRIAL and Böhm played a psychopathic killer in Michael Powell's shocker PEEPING TOM.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Brooksie
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Brooksie » Wed Oct 18, 2017 12:21 pm

I've never seen them but am looking forward to seeing them, as I've been interested in the story of the real-life Sissi since I visited Vienna some years ago. She was quite the character, sometimes compared to Princess Diana in terms of her cultural impact. If nothing else, I'm hoping for some super-foofy sparkly costumes. :wink:

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Mike Gebert
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:18 pm

I recommend not reading about her real life if you want to enjoy the fantasy version.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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Frederica
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Frederica » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:18 pm

Brooksie wrote:I've never seen them but am looking forward to seeing them, as I've been interested in the story of the real-life Sissi since I visited Vienna some years ago. She was quite the character, sometimes compared to Princess Diana in terms of her cultural impact. If nothing else, I'm hoping for some super-foofy sparkly costumes. :wink:
Fabulous costumes. Huge hair, too.
Fred
"Screw the men. I've got the horse."
Helen B. (Penny) Chenery
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boblipton
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:24 pm

I shall watch, although I doubt there'll be many Murphy Beds.

Bob
Last edited by boblipton on Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Donald Binks
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Donald Binks » Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:04 pm

boblipton wrote:I shall watch, although I doubt there' were be many Murphy Beds.

Bob

You possess strange requirements in your selection of films to watch? :D

(I could be tempted to watch one of them again. I'll just check to see if my Inspector-General's uniform is ready)
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Donald Binks

"So, she said: "Elly, it's no use letting Lou have the sherry glasses..."She won't appreciate them,
she won't polish them..."You know what she's like." So I said:..."

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Mike Gebert
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Mike Gebert » Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:10 pm

I flipped it on and damn, I might just have to watch them all. Meringue in cinematic form.
“I'm in favor of plagiarism. If we are to create a new Renaissance, the government should encourage plagiarism. When convinced that someone is a true plagiarist, we should immediately award them the Legion of Honor.” —Jean Renoir

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boblipton
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:49 pm

Well, I was right about the Murphy beds, but there was bird-kissing. I'll knock out a review and watch the others over the next few days.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

Richard P. May
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Richard P. May » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:42 am

I have to compliment TCM for presenting this trilogy. As with others above, I had never heard of it. I thought I'd give the first episode a try, and ended up seeing the whole thing. Fortunately, TCM put all of them in their "on demand" channel, so it has been possible to catch all three. It reminds me of a "Masterpiece Theater", and probably would be if in English and six one-hour episodes. Using actual buildings and replicas of clothing make it a feast to see, regardless of the story.
Dick May

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boblipton
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:59 am

Oh, aye, Richard, although it makes me sympathize more with my grandfather the communist.

Bob
Life's too short to sit on our rears watching other people's work.
— Bob Fells

brianwyn
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by brianwyn » Sat Oct 28, 2017 2:33 pm

If you want interesting films, where the film-makers tackle both contemporary issues and the censors, then you really need to look to East German cinema. West German films tend towards showing lots of happy peasants working hard for their kind, generous bosses, and month by month churning out more tractors than ever before. Even though as kids growing up in the West we were always told it was the other way round.

The works of director Kurt Maetzig is a good place to start (although even he in later life was embarrassed by the hagiographic Ernst Thälmann films). Vergeßt mir meine Traudel nicht and Das Kaninchen bin ich may surprise you (The latter was banned shortly after its release, and I can't think of a single West German film coming close to such a fate). You've possibly seen Der schweigende Stern in it's bastardised MST3K version as First Spaceship on Venus but don't let that put you off. If you want more then here's a very good blog that gives the films a fair assessment on their own merits without getting bogged down in the politics.

The Sissi films however are just the most expensive pieces of fluff in two decades of film-making on a theme of don't-mention-the-war.

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zigguraticus
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by zigguraticus » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:55 pm

I had never heard of this trilogy either and was drawn in from Moment One. Utter escapist confection, reminiscent of big-budget Hollywood product of the time (thinking of "The Swan" with Grace Kelly and of course "The Sound of Music" ten years later) with grand scenery, sumptuous costuming, high lit interiors, squeaky cleanliness (even the dirt is clean) and big blobs of sentimental schlag. Ben Mankiewicz in his commentary says the trilogy was a staple of Christmastime broadcasting all over Europe, and I can see why. After what Old World inhabitants went though in World War II, it must have been like balm for the spirit. Now I have to see Visconti's "Ludwig" again to see how Schneider played the same character in different way & in a vastly different context. Before I saw these films, Schneider had faded from my memory. Her slightly husky, whispery voice reminds me of a young Dietrich and she could also have passed for Simone Signoret's sister. Quite a feat, though, for a performer who was only 16-18 years of age at the time of production.

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Arndt
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Arndt » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:33 am

brianwyn wrote:The Sissi films however are just the most expensive pieces of fluff in two decades of film-making on a theme of don't-mention-the-war.
Very true and very well put.
"The greatest cinematic experience is the human face and it seems to me that silent films can teach us to read it anew." - Wim Wenders

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Rick Lanham
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:17 pm

A colorized image of the real person:

https://twitter.com/marinamaral2/status ... 2182602752" target="_blank" target="_blank
“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.

brianwyn
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by brianwyn » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:45 pm

The not-mentioning-the-war thing is astonishing once you notice it. I first picked it up when I noticed how many films had children being brought up by single parents or by their grandmothers. But they never attempt to explain why, or even hint at how difficult it may have been for those parents. Far more common, as in the Peter Kraus musical Alle lieben Peter they treat it as a chance to have two love stories in the one film.

brianwyn
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by brianwyn » Wed Nov 08, 2017 4:49 pm

If anyone would like a chance to sample an East German film ,then here's one of the weirdest, Ursula, from 1978.

Back in the late seventies DEFA and Swiss television got together to make a co-production based on a 19th century novel set in Reformation era Switzerland. They were no doubt anticipating a glossy Jesus of Nazareth type production, but quite a bit cheaper. What they weren't expecting was that director Egon Günther would go in to full-on Ken Russell mode, and produce something that would probably be rejected by the cinema censors in both countries. You can read more in the German wikipedia entry (link to translated version) and at eastgermancinema.com, which just about encompasses my knowledge of the background.

Now to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Swiss TV have dug this film out of the vaults for a late night showing plus have put it up on their catch-up web site for the next month. And because they (I assume) judge it to have no commercial value, they have also made it available worldwide, along with a behind the scenes documentary. The downside? Not only is it in German, it is in Swiss-German, and there are no subtitles at all. Still, if you're prepared to make an effort its a fascinating curiosity.

https://eastgermancinema.com/2012/04/27/ursula/

https://translate.google.co.uk/translat ... ula_(Film)

https://www.srf.ch/sendungen/sternstunde-kunst/ursula

https://www.srf.ch/sendungen/sternstund ... sehskandal

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Rick Lanham
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by Rick Lanham » Tue Dec 19, 2017 5:11 pm

A review of The Sissi Collection on DVD Talk by Tyler Foster:

https://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/72661/s ... ction-the/" target="_blank" target="_blank

"Conclusion
Although some parts of The Sissi collection are a mixed bag -- the third and fourth films, the suspiciously smooth transfers, the 5.1 audio -- the overall joy of the first two Sissi films are well worth the effort (and other viewers may get more mileage out of Fateful Years and Victoria in Dover than I did). Recommended."
“The past is never dead. It's not even past” - Faulkner.

moviepas
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by moviepas » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:56 am

Sissi is in my collection as a Blu ray and I think I have a DVD set also. The East German film, URSULA came up, in German, as No Longer Available(Video nicht mehr verfügbar).

chrisbungo
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Re: The Sissi Trilogy

Unread post by chrisbungo » Sat Dec 23, 2017 6:39 pm

Like most Americans, I had never heard of Sissi... that is until I stayed at the Schloss Fuschl at Fuschlsee-Salzburg hotel.

They have a Sissi Museum right on the grounds of the hotel and a bunch of movie clips and photos showing the actual production of some of the films, which were done on the grounds of the present-day hotel

Was quite interesting, and I recommend the hotel and the museum to anyone who visits the Salzburg area.

http://www.schlossfuschlsalzburg.com/en/sissi-museum

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