Sissi on TF1: what are the differences between the series and the films with Romy …

Characters, outstanding scenes… What are the differences between the Sissi series broadcast on TF1 and the cinematographic saga carried by Romy Schneider?

Warning, this article contains many spoilers on the Sissi series and the film saga of Ernst Marischka. If you don’t want to know anything, don’t read on.

On December 23, TF1 launched with great fanfare the Sissi series, the new adventures of the famous Empress Elisabeth de Wittelsbach. A revisited version of Ernst Marischka’s cinematographic saga, worn at the time by the iconic Romy Schneider.

If Sissi, Sissi Empress and Sissi facing her destiny were more of a fairy tale, the series camped by Dominique Devenport and Jannick Schümann, for its part, is much more contemporary and realistic.

Indeed, the writers of the German series have made the bet to stand out completely from the work of Marischka by offering a reading that is at the same time modern, historical and political. Nothing like playing the differences game.

While many viewers still have the cult saga in mind, what makes the films and the series stand out?


From the first sequences of the series, Franz orders the hanging of a Hungarian prisoner of war and his widow then turns to him to curse him.

May heaven as hell prevent you from knowing happiness on earth. May those who are dear to you disappear from the face of the globe. I curse you and condemn you to wander alone like a ghost. You will destroy all those you touch and your children will be doomed to an unworthy death. “.

A damnation that will haunt the emperor over the course of the season, who will have to live with the constant fear, or almost, of losing the one he loves.

While in Ernst Marischka’s films the curse does not exist, the writers of the series have decided to add this mystical touch to the story. A choice that sounds like a desire to remind viewers that the life of Franz and Sissi was not as idyllic as the films wanted us to believe and to anchor the imperial couple a little more in historical reality.


In the films, Élisabeth and Hélène are two very close sisters and accomplices. If in the first two episodes, the series also puts this complicity forward, the choice of Franz, to take Sissi as his wife, will create a real gap between them. For Hélène (Pauline Rénevier), this will be experienced as a real betrayal.

Far from the gentle and caring character of the cinematographic trilogy, Hélène is, on the contrary, cold and haughty. Jealous and believing that her sister sees Franz as an adventure, she will not hesitate to do everything to discredit her in the eyes of the emperor.



Whether in the movies or the series, the love story between Sissi and François-Joseph sparks. In both works, they fall in love at first sight, but in the end, their meeting is treated in a very different way.

Indeed, in Ernst Marischka’s films, Sissi takes advantage of an afternoon to go fishing. When she tries to cast her line in the water, the hook snaps onto the jacket of the emperor who runs along the river in his horse-drawn carriage.

In the series, the meeting of the future imperial couple is on the contrary very official. Ludovica and her two daughters arrive at Ischl, the imperial summer residence, to celebrate Franz’s birthday. When the latter greets his cousins, he immediately falls under the spell of Sissi but is mistaken in imagining that she is Hélène, his bride.


From one work to another, Franz is a diametrically opposed character.

While the original Franz is gentle and loving, the series explores the character in depth and does not water down any of his dark side. From the perfect fairy-tale man, Franz becomes in the series an impulsive, dangerous, violent and almost devoid of feelings towards his companion whom he will not hesitate to deceive many times as in the reality.

Choosing a more authentic historical narrative, the series highlights the political conflicts that reigned in Austria and which the emperor had to face in an authoritarian, harsh, cold way in order to find his place. It is therefore a very complex character that we are given to see and which would almost steal the show from Sissi.


With Romy Schneider, Sissi was undoubtedly the heroine of the films. In this version of 2021, she is a more self-effacing character and largely more interested in sex than in the role expected of her on court.

However, one trait of his personality remained intact, that of his thirst for freedom. However, we will have to wait until the second part of the season to find the independent Sissi that we know. It was only then that she began to reject the codes imposed by the Court, to rebel and to play a more important role in the history of her homeland.

In this second part, Sissi turns into a more modern and active character. And unlike the films, we will see the Empress much more concerned with what is happening in her country. She will not hesitate to give of herself to take care of the war wounded, to talk about politics or to create a feminine alliance to face Napoleon III.


By promising to revisit the story of Sissi while bringing it a touch of modernity mixed with feminism, the German series has chosen to highlight a certain form of sexual freedom.

More focused on the sex life of its protagonists, the Sissi series contains many erotic and sulphurous scenes that would have been unimaginable in the cinematographic saga. As such, the first sequence sets the tone. Sissi, alone in her bed, explores her body, uttering unequivocal moans. Masturbation, brothel, kamasutra, sex toys or even prostitutes, so many ingredients that dust off the myth of Sissi.


Unaware of the things of love, Sissi goes to a brothel where she meets Fanny (Paula Kober), a prostitute who has just spent a moment of intimacy with Franz. As she wishes to learn more about sexuality, the future empress will then make her her companion.

Fanny, who does not exist in the film works, will prove to be an important character in the series. Close and accomplices, the writers will not hesitate to suggest a few times a lesbian relationship between them.

If their friendship is a central point in the narration of the series, Fanny’s intentions nonetheless remain complex. Also, even if she is sincerely attached to the Empress, she will not hesitate to betray her in order to protect herself. An act which will obviously not be without consequences for Sissi.

For the little anecdote, Fanny Angerer was the appointed hairdresser of the Empress of Austria but nothing in history says if they were really friends.



Although she rules Sissi’s life by forcing him to comply with the rules of the Court, Countess Esterhazy (Tanja Schleiff) is ultimately a funnier and less unfriendly character than in the movies. It is also through this character that all the comic aspect of the series passes.

But the countess is not reduced to that and also takes part in the conflicts which reign in Austria. In order to avoid a war with the Kingdom of Lombardy and that the Hungarians do not rebel against the crown, it will allow the meeting between Sissi and Count Andrassy (Giovanni Funiati).


Unlike movies, History has an important place in the series. Through the romance of Franz and Sissi, the writers therefore tell us part of the history of Austria in the 1850s. And to assert this more realistic aspect, they did not skimp on the war scenes, the hangings , political conflicts, attacks, scenes of massacre and rebellion.


In the films, Ludovica and Maximilian of Bavaria, Sissi’s parents, have the perfect love. Living far from the Court, this happy and loving couple, embodied the ideal family of the 1950s.

However, they are very different in the series of Andreas Gutzeit and Robert Krause. If they seem to respect each other, Maximilien and Ludovica do not love each other and their marriage is not very happy.

Another notable change, Maximilian of Bavaria, initially whimsical and bohemian, appears cold and bitter in the German series. While his love for Sissi, who remains his favorite child, is the same in both works, he doesn’t like Franz at all and is much more interested in political issues in the series.

Ludovica has also experienced some changes. Very close to her loving daughter and mother, she is more distant in this new version and appears much less on the screen.


Two leading women, two different visions of the monarchy and the duty of a sovereign. This is the conflicting relationship between Sissi and Archduchess Sophie throughout the film saga.

A woman of duty with an authoritarian, cantankerous and firm character who perfectly embodied the role of the wicked, Sophie (Désirée Nosbusch) is this time less Manichean. More sympathetic and human, she will even quickly accept Sissi as her new daughter-in-law. Despite everything, as in the films, his only concern remains the greatness of Austria.



Military advisor to Emperor Franz Joseph, the Count of Grünne (David Korbmann) does not exist in the films. In the series, he accompanies Franz in his slightest movements and meets him daily. Even though that is part of his role, he also seems to be the only person who understands it, as well as being an almost friendly figure to the young emperor.


The big absentee from the series is undoubtedly Colonel Böckl (Josef Meinrad). Crazy character and madly in love with Sissi, he was nevertheless one of the key and unforgettable characters of the cinematographic saga. Although everything suggests that he never really existed, we would have liked to see him again in the series. His humor and his legendary awkwardness, which made more than one laugh, will certainly be missed.


The birth of Franz and Sissi’s first child is also very different in the two audiovisual works. While in the films the Empress gives birth to her baby girl without any suffering, the same cannot be said in the series which gives a much more realistic image of what childbirth is.


One of the major oversights of the cinematographic saga and which is addressed in the series, is the death of Sophie, the first daughter of Franz and Sissi. A tragedy which occurs in the last two episodes of the series and which will inevitably have a major impact on the personalities of the imperial couple.

Moreover, this is the key event from which Sissi begins to emancipate himself from the protocol imposed on him. The opportunity for the writers to give a glimpse of the evils that have consumed her all her life.

The complete season 1 of Sissi as well as the three films by Ernst Marischka are available on SALTO!

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