Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, France

Synopsis

Christmas 1877: The Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) celebrates her 40th birthday. In her representative role at the side of her husband Emperor Franz Joseph I (Florian Teichtmeister), she is not allowed to voice an opinion, and instead must forever remain the young and beautiful empress. In order to live up to this expectation, she adheres to a rigorous regimen of fasting, exercising, hairdressing and daily measurements of her waist. But Elisabeth has a hunger for knowledge and zest for life, increasingly rebels against the hyperbolised image of herself, and is no longer willing to live life constrained by a courtly corset.

Director's Statement

I had actually never seen the Sissi trilogy until I started doing research for CORSAGE. But of course, depictions of Sissi were everywhere nonetheless. I’ve lived in Vienna since 1996, and you see her face a hundred times in every souvenir shop. Sissi is certainly our city’s central tourist attraction. The project started out with Vicky Krieps asking me years ago if I’d like to make a Sissi film with her sometime. Because the souvenirs were all I could associate with Sissi, I replied: What on earth for? But somewhere inside me the idea was bubbling away and after a while I began to read up on her. I approached the material with an absolutely open mind, with no idea whether anything would come of it; I just wanted to see if there was something there that touched me and appealed to me. And I very quickly discovered that specific phase in Elisabeth’s life when, on the one hand, she began 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 her to gain recognition and love – I found that both extremely interesting and universal. Many of the expectations Elisabeth had to contend with continue to be imposed on women today. Being beautiful is still seen as a woman’s most important and valuable trait. Historical progress has not altered that, despite the women’s movement and emancipation. Women are still considered less valuable if they are 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 – that’s why I chose you, that’s why you’re here”, Franz Joseph tells Elisabeth. In 2022, women are supposed to do a great deal more and fulfil many more expectations – but also to stay beautiful, slim, and young while they’re at it. After a certain age women can’t win no matter what they do; they are 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 have a kind of emblematic function. I did in-depth research in particular on that phase of Elisabeth’s life, but took a lot of liberties with the content and form when turning it into a cinematic narrative. It was important to me, as ever, to know the rules so that I could break them. All the “mistakes” in that we recount or depict were not something that simply happened when we were shooting, but were instead all artistic decisions. I was never interested in making a nice, tidy biopic. But of course, it is a well-known fact that Elisabeth didn’t show her face after a certain age – that actually inspired the plot, sparking this story within me. After all, it is incredibly compelling to realize that she essentially disappeared right in front of everyone’s eyes.

Director's Biography

Marie Kreutzer, born in Graz, is one of Austria's most important and established filmmakers. After graduating from the AHS Modellschule, an alternative school with an artistic focus, she began her studies at the Film Academy Vienna in the field of screenwriting and dramaturgy with Walter Wippersberg and graduated with distinction. Afterwards, she worked as a script supervisor and in continuity in cinema and TV productions and made a variety of award-winning short feature films, which were shown at numerous festivals.

Her first feature film, THE FATHERLESS (Die Vaterlosen) (2011), has been shown and awarded at numerous festivals, including the Berlinale Panorama Special 2011. In addition, the film was nominated for the Thomas Pluch Screenplay Award and the Austrian Film Award. This was followed by the feature films GRUBER IS LEAVING (Gruber geht) (2015), WE USED TO BE COOL (Was Hat Uns Bloß So Ruiniert) (2016) and the TV film DIE NOTLÜGE (2017), which were also shown and awarded at festivals. Kreutzer's films GRUBER IS LEAVING and THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET ( Der Boden Unter den Füßen) have been enormous audience successes and are already among the classics of contemporary Austrian film. With The THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET she was finally able to attract international attention in 2019: The gripping, feminist psychodrama with Valerie Pachner, Pia Hierzegger and Mavie Hörbiger ran in the competition of the Berlin International Film Festival, received fantastic reviews worldwide and several awards. In addition to her work as a director, she worked as a lecturer at the Vienna Film Academy and as a screenwriter and dramaturge. Marie Kreutzer has been a board member of the Drehbuchverband und Drehbuchforum Austria since 2007 and a member of the supervisory board of the Austrian Film Institute since 2017.

FILMOGRAPHY:
2022 - CORSAGE, Feature
2021 - VIER, Feature
2019 - THE GROUND BENEATH MY FEET, Feature
2017 - DIE NOTLÜGE, Feature
2016 - WE USED TO BE COOL, Feature
2015 - GRUBER IS LEAVING, Feature
2011 - THE FATHERLESS, Feature
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Marie Kreutzer

Written by: Marie Kreutzer

Produced by: Alexander Glehr, Johanna Scherz, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade, Jean-Christophe Reymand, Bernard Michaux

Cinematography: Judith Kaufmann

Editing: Ulrike Kofler

Production Design: Martin Reiter

Costume Design: Monika Buttinger

Make-Up & Hair: Maike Heinlein, Helene Lang, Michaela Sommer, Martha Ruess, Nora Conradi

Sound: Alain Goniva, Carlo Thoss, Loïc Collignon, Nicolas Leroy, Angelo Dos Santos

Visual Effects: Jürgen Schopper, Stefan Tischner, Christine Boy, Peter Hofmeister, Paul Poetsch

Casting: Rita Waszilovics, Alex Johnson

Cast: Vicky Krieps (Elisabeth), Florian Teichtmeister (Franz Joseph), Katharina Lorenz (Marie Festetics), Manuel Rubey (Ludwig II), Colin Morgan (Bay Middleton), Finnegan Oldfield (Louis Le Prince)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2022