2022 [GERMAN]

Biography / Drama / History

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh89%
IMDb Rating7.1101326


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Colin Morgan as Bay Middleton
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Vicky Krieps as Empress Elisabeth
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1.02 GB
German 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 53 min
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German 5.1
24 fps
1 hr 53 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Blue-Grotto10 / 10

Everyone doesn't love us in the way we want to be loved.

It is birthday number 40 for Empress Elisabeth "Sissi" of the Austro-Hungarian empire and many people are predicting her downfall, including herself. Idolized from the age of 16 when she became Empress, Sissi rebels at the notion of following conventions, meeting expectations, and bowing to the opinion of the masses. "A lion doesn't lose sleep" she says, "over the opinion of sheep." Sissi is mischievous, wily, willful, and passionate. She embraces ephemeral moments that provide pleasure; riding horses at night, friends with benefits, and swimming nude in mountain lakes in the darkness. Her family reluctantly tolerates her, and that makes her uncomfortable and depressed. "If you allow yourself to be swayed by gossip" she tells her son, "you are not worthy to be emperor." She wishes her relatives were as bold as herself and loved her for who she is.

Once you see Vicky Krieps in person you realize that she is perfect for the role of Sissi. Krieps was present, along with the director, at this North American premiere screening at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sitting a few feet from Krieps I observed the playful look in her eyes, how she sat on the theater railing instead of standing as people normally do, her spritely grin, and the spirited and good-humored way she answered questions. Krieps was open-hearted, lively, talkative, and bold, just like Sissi. Don't take my word for her abilities though, she tied for the "best performance" at the Cannes film festival. Krieps learned Hungarian for the role and swims in the Danube River in winter. She said that for women "there is an obligation and pressure to please even though we are free to do as we please." This pressure hasn't lessoned, she noted, despite the 150 years that passed since Sissi's time.

Corsage is so captivating because Sissi is a fascinating and real character, Krieps is so good at playing her, and it is an atypical film. Even the ending credits are a delight to watch and are distinctly Sissian and Kriepsian. Director Marie Kreutzer said that Sissi's playfulness and acts of rebellion made her a compelling character. Instead of portraying the entire life story of Sissi, Kreutzer opts to focus on her at 40 years old. It is a delight to see the story of this amazing and beguiling woman revealed on screen.

Reviewed by gregorymannpress-747625 / 10

Feminist 'Sissi' Adaption/"Corsage" written by Gregory Mann


Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) is idolized for her beauty and renowned for inspiring fashion trends. But in 1877, 'Sissi' celebrates her 40th birthday and must fight to maintain her public image by lacing her corset tighter and tighter. While Elisabeth's role has been reduced against her wishes to purely performative, her hunger for knowledge and zest for life makes her more and more restless in Vienna. She travels to England and Bavaria, visiting former lovers and old friends, seeking the excitement and purpose of her youth. With a future of strictly ceremonial duties laid out in front of her, Elisabeth rebels against the hyperbolized image of herself and comes up with a plan to protect her legacy.

We all grew up with Romy Schneider as Sissi. Depictions of Sissi are everywhere nonetheless. Sissi is certainly Viennas central tourist attraction. The trilogy still screens on television every Christmas. It depicts Empress Elisabeth as a young obedient monarch in a kitschy, folklore-style setting. This Elisabeth, on the other hand, is 40, so she's an old woman by the standards of her day, grappling with her life and searching for some way to escape it's constraints. Why did Elisabeth have fitness equipment built for her? Why did she refuse to be painted after she was 40? This is the phase in Elisabeth's life when, on the one hand, she begins to rebel against all the ceremony and, on the other hand, started to withdraw and isolate herself; a time when it had quite obviously become impossible for her to squeeze herself into a predetermined template. There's that sense of always having to live up to an outsized image of yourself, as that's the only way for you to gain recognition and love.

She lives in a tight corset of self-restraint and societal censure. At first she's still keen to measure up to her own aspirations, as well as satisfying public expectations that she will conform to an idealized image. For decades she helped cement that image with her cult of beauty and iconic braided hairstyle. But Elisabeth has grown older and is tired of passing muster as an image of perfection. Riddled with despair, Elisabeth increasingly withdraws from her life. That's exactly what the real Elisabeth is said to have done. In later life, she only appeared in public with her face hidden behind a veil, she travelled extensively, and even had a double to take her place on official occasions to avoid having to attend. This is a perpetual state of affairs in women's lives. Being beautiful is still seen as a woman's most important and valuable trait. What happens when we all stop pretending?

Historical progress has not altered that, despite the women's movement and emancipation. Women are still considered less valuable if they're overweight or older. An attractive female partner still boosts a man's status. The only difference between then and now is that people used to talk openly about it; 'All you need to do is be appealing'. After a certain age, women can't win no matter what they do; they're accused of being vain if they get some work done, but people comment on their wrinkles if they don't. That's a particular issue for women in the public eye, like Elisabeth, but it affects all of us because they've a kind of emblematic function. In "Corsage", Elisabeth is overwhelmed by fate. Depressive tendencies are also documented in her family. She's fascinated by poetry, by Heinrich Heine's poems. Cocaine and heroin naturally penetrate deep into the brain and alter people's perceptions. In addition, she constantly subjected herself to a kind of slow torture, with diets and endurance sports. Everything she tries by way of distraction appears to be in vain until ultimately the empress comes to a tragic end.

What was it like being a woman in 19th -century Europe? Marriage market conventions in particular exerted enormous pressure on women. Back then, if a man married outside his class, for example, if a nobleman wed a commoner, which would have been quite unusual, the bride would promptly be given a noble title. The exact opposite applied for women. If a noblewoman married a commoner, she would need to find even more money to avoid slipping down the social ladder. Just like today, a woman was also expected to be the most beautiful, the most intelligent, the best of all. And of course, everyone lost out in that kind of competitive set-up. Above all, women's influence steadily waned as they grew older. In those days, women essentially became invisible when they turned 40. Making herself disappear was also a desperate stab at self-empowerment on Elisabeth's part. (5,0/5,5)

Written by Gregory Mann.

Reviewed by elcaminoelchapo8 / 10


Christmas 1877. Empress Elisabeth of Austria turns 40, a proud age for a woman in the late 19th century. As the wife of one of the most powerful rulers in Europe, she only has representative duties. Her life is determined by strict courtly rituals, but her own image in public has the greatest power over her, with Elisabeth being held up like a mirror everywhere. It shows a beautiful and graceful young woman, a style icon that was admired and viewed critically in equal measure and an adored role model for many young girls and women of her time. But at the age of 40, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Elisabeth to live up to this ideal. What will her future role be when she is no longer worshipped but merely respected?

In addition to Tchaikovsky's Wife, Marie Kreutzer's (The White Lie) unhappy heroine is the second estranged wife of an influential husband whose life on screen, limited by the expectations and constraints of the 19th century, ends in a dancing frenzy away from reality. Yet the very decorative representation of her husband Franz-Josef (Florian Teichtmeister, Vienna Blood),the alignment of her existence to the formal obligations of her social position that Kirill Serebrennikov's character longs for, suffocates Vicky Kriep's (Beckett) brilliantly embodied Empress of Austria-Hungary.

Her 40th birthday officially marks the end of a life that she only perceives from the outside with the cool distance of a spectator. This self-estrangement is a direct result of the constant reduction to her appearance, of which she is the harshest critic. To be found beautiful, even more so to be seen at all, has become her insatiable need and only source of joy - and pleasure. Their iron regime of exercise, diet, self-monitoring and constriction is both body cult and self-harm.

Anachronistic gestures, music and props define the protagonist as a modern person, trapped in a state system stuck in the past that refuses to acknowledge its redundancy illustrated by ramshackle backdrops, and lend timeless relevance to the female rebellion against patriarchal rulebooks. The historical deviations are also subject to universal allegory. With them, the director and screenwriter underscores the psychological detachment of the real Elisabeth from the popular figure of Empress Sisi. Last here is literally just a role that has overlaid humans.

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