the empressfrom Netflix, is a German-language series that follows the story of young Elisabeth, whose life suddenly changes when she marries the Emperor of Austria, Franz Josef.
While it starts out as a romantic fairy tale where she and Franz fall in love at first sight, reality hits Elisabeth when she becomes the empress and faces the challenges that come with her title.
Created by Katharina Eyssen, the series mixes royalty from ‘The Crown’ with the romantic tones of ‘Bridgerton’, delivering a sweeping period drama that immediately grips audiences. Often in the historical drama genre, creators take a lot of liberties when it comes to depicting real-life events on screen. So if you’re wondering if the empress it is indeed a true story, here is the truth.
the empress Is it based on real events?
Yea, the empress It is based on the royal story of Elisabeth von Wittelsbach, who served as Empress of Austria from 1854 to 1898. Often compared to Princess Diana, Elisabeth (aka Sisi) was a beloved royal figure in Austria and is considered “the first royal celebrity.” from Europe”.
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She was never much interested in courtship and politics, but that changed when she married Emperor Franz Josef, who was initially supposed to marry Elisabeth’s older sister Helene. For a free-minded Elisabeth, moving from uninhibited family life in Bavaria to royal responsibilities in Vienna was a difficult shift. Her relationship with her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophie, also gave rise to many problems in Elisabeth’s life.
What set her apart from other royals was how quickly she won over the common people and remained a popular figure for her entire life. Much like the Princess of Wales, Elisabeth was seen in a different light by her subjects, whom she cared very much about. She also gained fame for her beauty and it was said that she followed a strict regimen to maintain her appearance. And the public knew her from spending three hours taking care of her hair while she had all sorts of anti-aging concoctions at her disposal. It is also believed that she suffered from an eating disorder and went to great lengths to maintain her 18-inch waist, well into her 50s. She would exercise for hours and maintain a strict diet to stay in shape.
About the real Elisabeth
In addition to immense beauty, Elisabeth also had a mind of her own. She refused to bow to norms, often breaking protocols, especially around common people, which put her at odds with the royal family. In addition, she was well-versed in literature, loved to write poetry, and was fluent in several languages, which she learned during long hair care sessions.
She would travel, often to Hungary, to escape court life, and is known to have caused the dual monarchy in 1897, leading to the formation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Being such an influential historical figure, Elisabeth’s story has been brought to the screen several times before. For showrunner and head writer Katharina Eyssen, making the empress it was the opportunity to retell Sisi’s story with more focus on modern elements.
“What attracted me to Sisi initially was the whole messy, juicy, dysfunctional family around her. People tend to think she was the crazy one when, in fact, it was the system and dynamics around her that was insane. I love family stories. I love Shakespearean family tragedies. I saw potential in the famous Habsburg royal family“, she said.
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In addition to the drama in the empress’s life, Eyssen was also focused on acting out all the things that made her such an eccentric and beloved character. That is, a woman who was, in many ways, ahead of her time and therefore misunderstood.
“Elisabeth predicted the end of the monarchy, the collapse of empires in Europe. She just couldn’t express it properly. So she became an obsessive Amazon, obsessed with her hair, her looks, her body. All because, in my view, she carried the pain and suffering of a collapsing empire and its people. Elisabeth in my story is a creative force of nature with a fascinating dark side.”she said.
The Netflix version
Previous retellings of Elisabeth’s story have mostly focused on her love story with Franz Josef, but there was a lot more going on back then, and executive producer Jochen Laube wanted to focus on that.
“We didn’t lean on the well-known tragic love story, instead we really anchored it in the political situation at the time.”, he said. With a lot of focus on the story, the show’s creators decided to stick to the facts. They preferred not to bend timelines or change the events of the story to serve the drama of the empress. The overall structure remains fairly close to the sequence in which events happened in real life.
Calling this “true interpretation,” they took liberties in imagining certain situations and conversations. Especially when it came to unfolding the complicated relationships between the character. Overall, however, the Netflix series is pretty close to being historically accurate.
About the author
Ceará, 28 years old. Journalist specializing in Communications Advisory. Addicted to series since he can be understood by people and passionate about cinema. The guy who is happy to recommend a good series or a good movie to his friends.
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