TF1 broadcasts this Thursday, December 23 “Sissi”, a new, more modern reinterpretation of the story of the famous empress previously embodied by Romy Schneider. Is the series worth a look?
What is it about ?
Empress Elisabeth, nicknamed Sissi, was a pop star and influencer of her time at the end of the 19th century, an icon in Europe and the world. Her photos, depicting her legendary beauty, have since become successful merchandising items and represent a symbol of European royalty as a whole.
Sissi is broadcast from this Thursday, December 23 from 9:05 p.m. on TF1. The entire season 1 is already available on Salto. Episodes seen: 3/6.
Who is it with?
To camp Sissi, who was previously played by Romy Schneider, the production called on Dominique Devenport, a young American-Swiss actress who gets her first big role here. Her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph I, is meanwhile played by Jannik Schümann, a German comedian whose face you may not be unfamiliar with since he has made appearances Enemy Hearts and Monster Hunter. Archduchess Sophie is played by Désirée Nosbusch, seen in the German thriller Bad Banks.
The production was entrusted to Sven Bohse, a regular in historical series since he previously worked on Berlin 56. Elena Hell and Robert Krause took care of the screenplay, under the direction of Andreas Gutzeit.
Well worth a look ?
The story of Sissi has been told over and over again, the most iconic version remaining that of Romy Schneider who, more than 65 years after its release, continues to captivate the crowds. Tackling the myth of the Empress was therefore a risky bet for Beta Films and RTL Deutschland, which nevertheless succeeded in meeting the challenge with flying colors.
For this new iteration, Andreas Gutzeit, screenwriter on the series, has chosen to tell us a story much less smooth and embellished than in the 1955 version. Realism is the key word of this new adaptation, which therefore puts a point honor to place the intrigues in the historical context of the time.
Another very refreshing change: the series is much more sulphurous than what we had seen previously. Like The Chronicle of the Bridgertons, which probably influenced the writers, the sexuality of the characters is brought to the fore, and this, from the opening sequence, in which the innocent Sissi has a little solitary pleasure. A way for the series to free itself from the now cult trilogy.
And Franz is not to be outdone: fine game, visit to brothels, drugs and so on… nothing is spared him and that is a good thing. A man of his stature in the 19th century very rarely had to wait wisely for his wedding night to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh. Jannik Schümann’s Franz is also hot-tempered and sanguine at times bordering on violence, whether psychological or physical, towards his wife.
In addition to this revolution in character construction, this 2021 version also shines with its breathtaking shots. Sven Bohse, the director, offers us exterior shots worthy of the greatest Hollywood productions. Beta Films has put in the resources, and it shows.
As for the casting, the production has chosen to rest this ambitious series on the shoulders of two actors almost unknown to the international public. Dominique Devenport, who had not seen the films before landing the coveted role, captivates with his large eyes full of innocence and easily manages to slip into Elizabeth’s skin.
Facing her, Jannik Schümann, one of the hopes of German cinema, offers us a nuanced interpretation of Franz which will not fail to convince the few refractory. Between them, they form a glamorous couple that will make more than one dream.
If Sissi is above all a romantic series telling an epic love story, it remains a captivating series, visually very beautiful, and much more sulphurous than what we have seen previously. It remains to be seen whether the writers will choose to tackle the less glowing aspects of the Empress’s story, including her unhappy marriage, her anorexia and her depression, which plagued the Empress until her death, in 1888.