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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Elisabeth, Kaiserin von Österreich - Ich möchte eine Möwe sein!

The year 1972 was a busy one for Marisa Mell. After filming two westerns back to back "Tutti fratelli nel west... per parte di padre" and "Amico, stammi lontano almeno un palmo", a giallo "Sette orchidee macchiate di rosso", a crime movie "Alta tensión" and a documentary film "Magic Graz" about her native town Graz in Austria, she still had the time to film a German black and white made for television movie called "Elisabeth-Kaiserin von Österreich-Ich möchte eine Möwe sein!" (Elisabeth-Empress of Austria-I would like to be a seagull!) .
In this movie she plays the main part of the empress Elisabeth von Österreich-Ungarn (December 24th 1837-September 10th 1898), generally known by the public as "Sissi", made famous by Romy Schneider in three German language movies in the fifties.

The main part of the movie was filmed at different original locations in Vienna, Austria like Schloss Schönbrunn, the home of the then royal reigning family the Habsburgs. The aim of the movie was to give a historically correct view of the life at the Austrian court during the reign of Emperor Franz-Jozeph I.

The television movie was a co-production between the Austrian state television "ORF" and the second German commercial television "ZDF". The television movie premiered on "ORF" in Austria on December 20th 1972. The critics and ratings were disasterous after the broadcast. So the co-producer "ZDF" did not know what to do with the movie: broadcast it or not! Finally they decided to do it more than a year after the initial production in the month of june 1973. Before airing one of the most important German political magazines "Der Spiegel" dedicated an article to the production history of the movie in it's 1973 issue # 26 . It sabled the movie down in pieces.
(Free translation of the article: In the can is in the can. One of Austria's "biggest garbage ever" the bombed made for TV movie is now ready to be screened before a German audience by the ZDF. It happened to Furst von Bismarck, and also Martin Luther King and Reichpräsident Friedrich Ebert had to endure it! In its biographies made for television, the ZDF loves to portray great people from world history. This series of costumes, giant paintings and drama is now being continued by the Mainzer (= reference to the crew of the ZDF because the seat of the company is in the German town called Mainz) with another historical piece. In co-production with the ORF, they filmed the love life and sufferings of Queen Elisabeth, also known as Sissi, who was married to Emperor Franz-Joseph I. With this court drama to honor her 135th day of birth both companies were aiming to historically correct the cheesy "Sissi"-films from the fifties. In three extremly tear jerking movies Romy Schneider played very convincing "the values of the heart and humanity as a characteristic Austrian way of life" according to the Austrian secretary of eduction in a laudatio. Indeed on the screen the current production of the Empress-fairy tale looks like a joke compared to the Romy Schneider romances which can be seen as Visconti movies. When the made for television movie in april of 1972 went before the board of directors of the ORF to get their approval they declared: "the biggest garbage that has been produced since a long time". To safe this clobbered unprofessional directed drama ("This piece of crap" voiced by the show and games director of the ORF Kuno Köbl) they asked Marisa Mell and other actors back in the studio and filmed very long sequences again. Even with this beauty make over, which cost another 120.000 DM above the already 350.000 DM for the first shooting, "Sissi" could not be saved. When the movie was first shown last december on the Austrian tv, the Vienna "Kurier" called it the TV-miscarriage of 1972. The ZDF, paying 70% of the production costs of this monster, did not fight this bomb. Although the chief of documentaries Jurgen Neve-du Mont once declared to skip over the top historical drama's ("UFA in acid drenged clay trays"), this piece of crap will be put on the programm next friday at 20.15 as "Elisabeth, Empress of Austria" during 75 minutes. Hei-Wi-Tip-Top, in the can is in the can!)


Keith said...

Have you ever seen this? If so, was it any good or not?

Mirko di Wallenberg said...

Yes, I have seen the movie and I found it not so bad as mentioned in the article! There are a few good scenes with MM and she looks stunning on screen with the historical clothes, as you can see from the picture. I believe that the ZDF did only once broadcast the movie and never again! Occassionaly you can see the film on other European channels like Arte or satelite channels mostly in an series of movies and documentaries about the life of Sissi or her murder!

Keith said...

I'm glad it's not as bad as it was made out to be. Many times I've seen movies salvaged by critics and fans. I've ended up actually enjoying some of the movies that others hated.

Anonymous said...

She really had bad luck with her movies. :-(