This Thursday, December 30, TF1 broadcast the last three episodes of “Sissi”. In this new adaptation, the famous empress takes a prostitute as a companion … Did this character really exist?
For several years, the Christmas holidays rhymed with the traditional replay of the Sissi saga on television. But this year, TF1 has decided to surprise its viewers by offering a much more modern version of the story of young Elisabeth de Wittelsbach with Sissi, a German-Austrian series in 6 episodes.
And it must be said that this new proposal did not fail to make speak the Net surfers who, from the first minutes, were surprised, even shocked, by certain very daring scenes. And the grand finale, broadcast last night on TF1, was no exception to the rule since an intimate scene between the Empress and her maid, Fanny, baffled more than one.
If we strongly doubt that this scene really happened, does that mean that this character of this prostitute-turned-confidante was invented from scratch? Yes and no.
A not so fictional character …
Unlike Ernst Marischka’s films, Sissi’s writers have tried to stay true to the true story of the Empress by not hesitating to mar the idealized image people have been able to build for themselves over the years. But, fiction obliges, the writers have all the same taken liberties by adding or modifying certain elements in order to bring drama and captivate viewers. And the character of Fanny, played by Paula Kober, is direct proof of this.
In the first episode, while Sissi (Dominique Devenport) follows François-Joseph on horseback, she discovers that the emperor makes a stop on the way to a brothel. The young Elisabeth then decides to pay the lady in question in order to receive sexual advice to satisfy her future husband. Later, when she has to leave for the court of Vienna, she makes her his maid and confidante. A story that was of course invented from scratch.
But there really was a Fanny in Sissi’s life. Franziska “Fanny” Feifalik comes from a modest family. Like her father, she learned the hairdressing trade. Very quickly, her talent and her dexterity allowed her to stand out and she was hired to be a hairdresser in a theater in Vienna.
It is during a performance which Sissi attends that she meets the Empress, who, fascinated by the hairstyle of the main actress, had wished to meet her. Sissi then hires Fanny as a personal hairdresser. With nearly three hours of grooming a day with the Empress, she quickly became his confidante, and accompanied him on all his travels, which made some ladies-in-waiting jealous.
The two young women were not only the same age, but they also looked very similar. Sissi therefore sometimes used Fanny as a double, the young woman replacing her on several occasions during official events taking place abroad.
The Empress also didn’t hesitate to break the rules for her friend and hairdresser. When Fanny got married, she was allowed to continue working for Sissi, while the Empress’ companions were to be celibate. In December 1896, two years before Sissi’s death, Fanny finally retired after more than thirty years of loyal service.
Find now the entire first season of Sissi on Salto.