Elisabeth of Austria (24 December 1837 – 10 September 1898) was the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I, and thus Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Queen consort of Croatia and Bohemia.
Born into Bavarian royalty, Elisabeth (Sisi) enjoyed an informal upbringing, before marrying Franz Joseph when she was 16 years old. The marriage catapulted her into the much more formal Habsburg court life, for which she was ill-prepared and which she found uncongenial. Early in the marriage she was at odds with her mother-in-law, Princess Sophie, who took over the rearing of Elisabeth’s daughters, one of whom died in infancy. The birth of a male heir Rudolf improved her standing at court, but her health suffered under the strain, and she would often visit Hungary for its more relaxed environment. She came to develop a deep kinship with Hungary, and helped to bring about the dual monarchy of Austria–Hungary in 1867.
The 1889 death of her only son Rudolf, and his mistress Mary Vetsera, in a murder–suicide tragedy at his hunting lodge at Mayerling, was a shock from which Elisabeth never recovered. She withdrew from court duties and travelled widely, unaccompanied by her family. She was obsessively concerned with maintaining her youthful figure and beauty, this obsession taking the form of, among other things, a requirement that she be sewn into her leather corsets and spending two or three hours a day on her coiffure. While travelling in Geneva in 1898, she was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist named Luigi Lucheni who selected her because he had missed his chance to assassinate Prince Philippe, Duke of Orléans, and wanted to kill the next member of royalty that he saw. Elisabeth was the longest serving Empress-consort of Austria, at 44 years.
I picked out a call number from our DVD inventory at random and came up with this. Coincidentally, it stars Romy Schneider, who was the star of that Madchen in Uniform remake which I just watched a day or two ago.
Anyways, this movie puts the word ‘lavish’ to the extreme. It’s like each frame is a Where’s Waldo of trying to find the most expensive prop item. And the locations are wonderful - just what you’d expect out of a German-Austrian coproduction.