This June, Sissi is Back
The SIFF CLASSICS is an integral panorama program of the annual Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), which embodies viewers’ affection and anticipation for everlasting films: in the special time and space created by SIFF, where past and future, reality and fiction meet, we wipe out the dust of history on the timeless light and shadow, and encounter with old memories.
2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of Romy SCHNEIDER, Austrian film actress who played Empress Sissi, as well as the 90th of Karlheinz BÖHM, the leading actor in the same movie. At the 21st Shanghai International Film Festival to be held this June, the SISSI trilogy will return to the screen in China, offering a special panorama in the SIFF CLASSICS program. As the first to be introduced to the future audience of SIFF CLASSICS, the SISSI trilogy is neither a symbol of genre, standard, nor an emblem of novelty, sophistication, abundance or insight, but the pretty Sissi has been forever enshrined in the hearts of numerous viewers. It articulates the meaning of “classic” in another way – she has given us dreams.
It will be the first time for the series to adopt the format of Digital Cinema Package (DCP) for cinematic release in China. Compared to the previous HD restored version, DCP not only perfectly retains the texture of films and the lustrousness of Agfacolor, but also facilitates the preservation of movies and their international distribution and circulation. Thanks to that, the three masterpieces depicting the luxury and romance of the medieval European court, after being first screened more than half a century ago, manage to meet the Chinese audience with a new look.
At the end of the 1980s, the Shanghai Film Dubbing Studio translated and produced the trilogy of SISSI, THE YOUNG EMPRESS and FATEFUL YEARS OF AN EMPRESS. The heroine Sissi was dubbed by the noted dubbing artist in Shanghai DING Jianhua; for the male protagonist Emperor of Austria, SHI Rong, an expert in portraying handsome youth, took the role.
The first installment SISSI became an instant hit after releasing, causing huge sensation in China. To many audience at that time, the Empress Sissi even became a synonym for beauty and elegance. The fans were indulged in the story about her challenging the power and bravely pursuing true love.
At that time, many people might not know that SISSI was actually an “antique” shot in 1955. And it never occurred to the Austrian director Ernst MARISCHKA and the two leading performers Romy SCHNEIDER and Karlheinz BÖHM that three decades later, the work would be so influential in the remote Oriental.
The SISSI series is based on the life of the Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Empress in the middle of the 19th century, the romance of nobility. Besides the grown-up fairy tale wrapped up by exquisite garments, the great success of the film was also due to the charm of the heroine Romy SCHNEIDER.
With the performance of Sissi, the then 17-year-old Schneider set foot on the international stage, winning extensive attention across the globe and even hailed as the most beautiful woman in post-war Europe. Since then, she had collaborated with world-class filmmakers such as Henri-Georges CLOUZOT, Orson WELLES, and Luchino VISCONTI in a number of remarkable film productions.
A reunion with Shanghai 30 years later, it may be the best endorsement for the SIFF CLASSICS. In addition to the trilogy, there will be more ingenious offerings hidden in our screening list this year. Hope they could pull you away from the reality for a while and give you a pleasant time.
In June, Shanghai, a time for the Chinese audience to recall the past days recorded in films of a century. You may wish to take your loved ones and friends to the theater, and revisit the unforgettable memories of light and shadow.
Directed by: Ernst MARISCHKA
Starring: Romy SCHNEIDER/ Karlheinz BÖHM/ Magda SCHNEIDER/ Uta FRANZ/ Gustav KNUTH
Sissi, born in a Bavarian noble family, is a beautiful, carefree and impulsive girl. For the engagement ceremony between her older sister Helene and the young emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, she travels to Austria with her mother. The mischievous Sissi sneaks out for fishing, where by chance she meets Franz Joseph. Her smile touches Franz deeply. At the birthday celebration, Franz defies his mother's reservations and announces his betrothal to Sissi. Although the lovers are finally married, their relationship is soon to be tested.
SISSI – THE YOUNG EMPRESS (1956)
Directed by: Ernst MARISCHKA
Starring: Romy SCHNEIDER/ Karlheinz BÖHM/ Magda SCHNEIDER/ Gustav KNUTH/ Vilma DEGISCHER
After the grand royal wedding in Vienna, Sissi slowly adapts to life as empress of Austria, but her mother-in-law is hard to live with. Archduchess Sophie requests his son to adhere to the long-established rules protocol and etiquette like herself. When Sissi's first child is born, Franz takes away the child from her to Sophie for raising, which is in line with the royal rules. The heartbroken Sissi returns to Bavaria alone. Franz feels guilty, following his wife back and convincing her to return to Austria. Sophie is then forced to consent to the reunion of mother and daughter. Later, Sissi accompanies Franz to visit a number of countries. They are warmly welcomed in Hungary, and crowned King and Queen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
SISSI – FATEFUL YEARS OF AN EMPRESS (1957)
Directed by: Ernst MARISCHKA
Starring: Romy SCHNEIDER/ Karlheinz BÖHM/ Magda SCHNEIDER/ Gustav KNUTH/ Uta FRANZ
While dutiful Franz Josef remains at his desk, his strict, domineering mother Sophie interferes in the affairs of the state and even spreads the rumor about Sissi and Count Andrássy. When Sissi is diagnosed with severe tuberculosis, she has to be separated from her daughter again and sent to a remote island for convalescence. Helpless and lonely, she gradually recovers with her mother’s care, and later rejoins her husband on an official visit to northern Italy. The local people are hostile to the royal family. But when they witness the openly loving reunion between Sissi and her little daughter on St Mark's Square, the emotional Italians melt.