Sissi Collection

Sissi Collection

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Sissi was among the earliest Austrian movies -- or movies based on an Austrian subject, as it was actually a German/Austrian co-production -- to make a major impression on international audiences. Written, produced, and directed by Ernst Marischka, who had already demonstrated his proficiency with historical subjects, the production and release of the firstSee more details below

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Overview

Sissi was among the earliest Austrian movies -- or movies based on an Austrian subject, as it was actually a German/Austrian co-production -- to make a major impression on international audiences. Written, produced, and directed by Ernst Marischka, who had already demonstrated his proficiency with historical subjects, the production and release of the first film, Sissi, coincided with the end of the Allied occupation of Vienna, and the repatriation of the last surviving Austrian prisoners (who'd gone in as soldiers of the German Reich) being held by the Soviet Union, a decade after the end of the Second World War. It was a time of rejoicing for the nation -- they also got back the opera house of the Vienna State Opera, a newly designed and constructed marvel, that same year. The country was celebrating, but it was also bent on ignoring the overriding ugliness of its recent history -- that a significant number (if not an absolute majority) of Austrians (and, especially, Viennese) had welcomed Hitler and the Nazis as liberators, not invaders, in 1938; and that, with the ensuing departure of the nation's Jewish population and their sympathizers, either by voluntary emigration, or into concentration camps, or into hiding, had left the majority of the Austrian population with a lot of guilt, at least by thought and inclination, to contend with. Thus, the historical nature of the subject of these movies fit the bill precisely, immersing audiences in the last relatively safe, happy times known by the nation, surrounding the 1853 wedding of Princess Elizabeth ("Sissi") to the Emperor Franz Josef. The first movie was followed by two sequels, Sissi: The Young Empress (1956), which focused on the noblewoman's difficulties at court, especially with her mother-in-law, and Sissi: The Fateful Years of An Empress (1957). All three are here, accompanied by Paramount's U.S.-released Forever My Love (1960), a three-in-one composite movie, containing the key plot elements of the movies assembled into a single English-dubbed feature; and Victoria In Dover (aka The Story of Vickie), the earlier Marischka-directed historical drama that offered Romy Schneider -- then 16 -- in the role of the future Queen Victoria. The three original "Sissi" movies look sensational, and these pictures -- which were immensely successful at home and in Europe, and were very special to the Austrians of the time -- have very obviously been well preserved. Their opulence resounds in just about every frame, the Agfacolor photography showing unexpected depth and detail, and the sound full and rich and loud. These pictures, each on a separate platter in a fold-out package, all look about as good as anyone could have hoped at this late date, more than 50 years after their original release. Each has been given a dozen chapters that are easy to access though the two-layer menu that opens automatically on start-up, and the crisp and easily readable English subtitles are "on" in the default position on the same menu. Sissi and Sissi: The Fateful Years of An Empress come with their original trailers (which also look fine), while Sissi: The Young Empress is accompanied by a 15-minute short featurette from the time of the original release, dealing with the making of the movie, which includes extensive narration by Schneider and lots of behind-the-scenes footage of the extensive location work. The latter is a constant reminder of just how outsized these productions were, and how they became even more ambitious -- including shooting in Venice for the last film -- they became as each proved successful (and the deal with Paramount to do a US release probably didn't hurt in justifying the increasing budgets). As to the US release Forever My Love, it's an interesting companion to the original movies, which streamlines the plot elements and characterizations, making the plot and backgrounds sort of Austrian-lite for purposes of entertaining American filmgoers. The dubbing isn't bad, but it is ironic to watch this film and realize that, at the time of its release in America, the male lead, Karl Heinz Bohm -- seen here as the Emperor Franz Josef -- was in the process of filming the greatest and most notorious role of his career, as the lead in Michael Powell's Peeping Tom. Dubbed or in German, Schneider is beautiful to look at, though one prefers the original movies, which do look better than the Paramount film. As for Victoria In Dover, it seems to have been preserved as poorly as the "Sissi" films have been cared for well and meticulously restoed -- the color is dark, as is the tone of the images, and there are signs of visible wear throughout the movie, while the sound is weak and tinny. It's a nice bonus feature, as the precursor to the "Sissi" films, and Schneider is a wonder to behold as an actress in her mid-teens, but this was also probably the only way to release the picture in any form on home video. It also has 12 chapters, and no trailer. All of the images are full-screen (1.33-to-1), which points up the one place where the original producers seem to have skimped -- given its opulent decor and lush settings, one would have thought they'd have photographed the "Sissi" movies in CinemaScope or some related anamorphic process, but they didn't. They're still pretty impressive to look at, however.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/11/2007
UPC:
0741952313793
Source:
Koch Lorber Films
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
9:34:00
Sales rank:
33,647

Special Features

Sissi: The Young Empress featurette; Trailers

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Sissi
1. Future Empress [13:07]
2. A Moment [8:09]
3. Fishing Trip [11:31]
4. Charming [9:26]
5. Good Hunting [6:56]
6. Big Surprise [9:49]
7. Happy Birthday [5:38]
8. Fate [9:16]
9. The Chosen [8:52]
10. No Freedom [7:47]
11. She's Coming [7:51]
12. The Bride [7:03]
Disc #2 -- Sissi: The Young Empress
1. Back to Business [7:25]
2. Homesick [10:12]
3. Her Smile [6:56]
4. Cheers [5:27]
5. May I? [7:07]
6. Expecting [4:35]
7. A Princess [9:04]
8. Rebelling [11:48]
9. I'm Sorry [9:13]
10. Vacation [13:31]
11. Future Queen [12:40]
12. The Queen [7:21]
Disc #3 -- Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress
1. Gypsies [9:39]
2. Distrust [5:27]
3. Ludwig [6:35]
4. Birthday [7:50]
5. The Ball [7:06]
6. In Love [4:58]
7. My Angel [9:37]
8. Very Sick [14:37]
9. Recovery [13:06]
10. Greece [11:20]
11. Italy [9:14]
12. The Pope [9:03]
Disc #4 -- Forever My Love
1. A Chosen Wife [12:41]
2. At First Sight [6:43]
3. Even Lovelier [12:40]
4. Final Decision [11:50]
5. My Freedom [7:31]
6. Love You Forever [10:14]
7. Golden Cage [10:31]
8. A Child [17:11]
9. Hungary [11:13]
10. Far Away [15:14]
11. Only God [13:15]
12. E Viva La Mama [9:58]
Disc #5 -- Victoria in Dover (The Story of Vickie)
1. Tea Time [6:41]
2. Future Queen [11:56]
3. King Is Dead [8:09]
4. Advice [10:33]
5. Newspapers [12:40]
6. Married? [7:39]
7. The Inn [9:01]
8. The Waltz [8:41]
9. Step Out [9:02]
10. We Dance [8:11]
11. Giver Her Hand [6:28]
12. Kiss Me [5:42]

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