Foreign Film Friday -Sissi (1955)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Sissi is a German film about the real life historical figure of the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The real Elisabeth (nicknamed Sisi) had royal Bavarian blood and was well connected through her many royal relations. She was fifteen when her first cousin, Franz Ferdinand, the Austrian emperor, fell in love with her and coerced her into marriage. Though she was renowned for her beauty, once married she lived a rather unhappy life. Sisi’s rather free upbringing made it difficult for her to adjust to the rules and strictures of court life. This was made even more difficult by her overbearing and controlling mother-in-law. Though her husband loved her, he stayed busy being emperor and she didn’t reciprocate the depth of his feelings. Although she is the longest reigning empress of Austria, she spent most of those years away from court and uninvolved in its’ politics.

Sissi is the first of a trilogy of German films which portray the life of this famous woman.  As with most historical films, it is fairly romanticized. Still it manages to give a somewhat true accounting of Sisi’s early life.

The picture covers the brief period of Elisabeth’s life prior to catching the eye of the Emperor until the day of their wedding. It introduces other historical characters such has her sister Helene, who had been the original intended bride of the Emperor. Other characters which appear are Sisi’s parents and siblings, and her aunts and uncles who were the ruling monarchs of other German principalities. Continue reading “Foreign Film Friday -Sissi (1955)”

Foreign Film Friday -Ekaterina (2014-)

History is rich with people whose lives contain enough drama and significant events to still fascinate today. In recent years,  TV & Film focused particularly on female rulers who acted as heads of state in times where women were considered inferior and subservient to men. These women proved the lie of such notions by being crafty, intelligent and strong leaders. Catherine the Great of Russia is one such woman who stands out in history. Several films and television series featured her rise to power and her subsequent reign during a period when Russia was a powerful player in international affairs. However, Ekaterina is one of the few if not only onscreen productions which is not only filmed in Russia but produced exclusively by Russians for Russian television.

SUMMARY

Catherine is a German-born princess whose parents have little financial means but important connections. She is chosen as a potential bride for the Grand Duke of Russia as a pawn in a game of international intrigue. She is naïve enough to believe that she and Peter can develop a marriage based on love and respect. But Peter, whose life has been controlled by his aunt, the Empress Elizabeth, refuses her overtures as a means of rebellion against the arranged marriage.

From her arrival at the Russian court of St. Petersburg, Catherine’s life is manipulated and controlled by those with greater power and influence. She learns to keep her mouth shut and her ears open as she maneuvers through the treacherous waters of the royal court. Over the course of fifteen years, and through her many losses, Ekaterina has her innocence and illusion shattered while she learns the art of diplomacy and the cost of being the wife to the heir apparent of the Russian throne.

To read the rest of my review, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

Television Mini-Series Review -Young Catherine (1991)

Young Catherine is an American/British/Canadian mini-series which portrays the early years of Russia’s Catherine the Great.

In 1744 Sophia Fredericke, a princess of a small German principality, is invited to the court of St. Petersburg as the potential bride for the next Russian heir. Sophia’s upbringing has been sheltered. She has a close relationship with her father, with whom she shares a devotion to their Lutheran faith. Her relationship with her mother is less warm. But it is with her mother that she travels to Russia.  Her mother is well prepared for the political and social intrigues of the Russian court, but Sophia is less so.

She arrives as a naive innocent, eager to believe in a love match between herself and Peter, the Grand Duke and future emperor. Thanks to some advice from the handsome Grigory Orlov, Sophia is smart enough to ingratiate herself with the Empress Elizabeth, Russia’s ruling sovereign. Sophia soon begins to experience the shattering of her illusions. It slowly becomes clear to her that her marriage and her role within the Russian monarchy is not made of fairy tales. Sophia must learn how to maneuver in an environment where she is viewed as at best, a pawn and at worst, a threat to others’ ambitions.  She must decide if she is willing and how much she will sacrifice for the sake of a crown.

To read my review of this series, please follow me over to The Silver Petticoat Review.

 

Book Review – Storm and Silence

SUMMARY

In Storm and Silence suffragist Lilly Linton dresses up like a man in order to cast her vote. But she doesn’t count on meeting Rikkard Ambrose, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in London. Nor does she expect his job offer after she unintentionally displays the very attributes he is looking for in a personal secretary.

Mr. Ambrose is shocked to find out his newest employee is in actuality a woman! Though he tries to rescind his offer, she plays up to his honor as a gentleman and he is forced to employ her. Though she refuses to give him a reason to fire her, Ambrose decides to force her to quit the job of her own accord.

But Lilly is more stubborn and wily than he expects. The office is a powder keg ready to explode when the brilliant, progressive and hot-tempered Lilly matches wits against her silently cold and ruthless boss. Who will win this battle? And when Mr. Ambrose’s business dealings put them in danger will the fact that LIlly is a woman be a hindrance or an asset? Continue reading “Book Review – Storm and Silence”