If you miss the magnificence and drama of ITV’s Victoria series, the new German historical drama The Empress on Netflix is the perfect replacement.
The Empress examines the relationship between sixteen-year-old Duchess Elisabeth “Sisi” von Wittelsbach (Devrim Lingnau) and Franz Joseph I of Austria (Philip Froissant) as she is thrust into the complex and duplicitous court politics exacerbated by her new husband’s mother, Princess Sophie of Bavaria (Melika Foroutan), and brother Archduke Maximilian (Johannes Nussbaum).
Katharina Eyssen has constructed a series that is equal parts a coming-of-age romance for the young Duchess and a tale replete with political intrigue and the rumblings of a burgeoning insurrection. This is evident from the very first episode of The Empress.
The series’ filmmakers Florian Cossen and Katrin Gebbe create Elisabeth’s existence with delicacy, highlighting the sixteen-year-naiveté old’s while exposing the tiny traumas in her life with care. The Empress does not shy away from discussing the intrusive aspect of stone-faced physicians doing chastity examinations, Elisabeth’s dismay at meeting her new husband’s ex-lover at their wedding, or her oppressive new life in Vienna.
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Devrim Lingnau is a breath of fresh air as Elisabeth, bringing a level of depth to the role that would definitely cause misery if The Empress continues to its conclusion in 1898. She is a rowdy adolescent whose only concerns are freedom, poetry, and her horse before she catches Franz’s eye when he’s supposed to court her sister Helene (Elisa Schlott).
She was not raised to become the Empress; rather, it was the result of an unforeseen passion that altered not only her own life but also the destiny of Austria. Even though you are aware that the Hapsburgs are hanging their opponents, you feel compassion for her.
Her relationship with Franz is also a lot of fun to observe throughout the series, as it is by no means ideal, but there is never a lack of chemistry between Lingnau and Froissant.
Throughout the series, Franz has his own challenges, particularly the escalating tensions between Austria and Russia and the looming war. But he must also contend with issues that are far closer to home, including his brother Maximilian, who is trying to undermine him, plant the seeds of discord, and position himself to ascend to the throne.
From the complex garments worn by Elizabeth to the gorgeous details of the gentleman’s elegant attire and military insignia, the costumes of The Empress are a visual feast. Gabrielle Reumer, the series’ costume designer, has a remarkable eye for not only combining colors and textures to express deeper meaning in each scene and episode, but also for exploring the complete range of what Austrians wore at the time.
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So frequently, historical plays limit themselves to drab, lifeless hues and patterns, ignoring how vibrantly the aristocracy was attired. These vivid splashes of color and extravagant embellishments in The Empress stand in stark contrast to the insurrection building beyond the palace gates.
However, the revolt has also reached the palace, offering a rare chance for one of Elisabeth’s ladies-in-waiting, Leontine von Apafi (Almila Bagriacik), to become her closest confidante and most formidable foe. Leontine observes firsthand that the newly crowned Empress is not an adversary of the people, but a puppet for those who rule her life. Nevertheless, it does not totally dissuade her from her Machiavellian schemes. This type of deceptive storytelling creates the stage for even more suspense in the upcoming second season.
The first season of The Empress is absolutely brilliantly made, and fans of historical dramas will want to make time for it. It honors the legacy of Elisabeth and Franz while generating a binge-worthy series that effortlessly immerses its viewers in the drama and grandeur of a turbulent historical moment.
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Audiences both intimately versed with the Habsburgs and those seeking a new favorite historical drama will appreciate their voyage into nineteenth-century Austria since the series does a great job of setting out the primary areas of conflict between its ensemble of characters. Elisabeth’s humanity and compassion are the focal points of The Empress, presenting her as a character — and historical person — who spectators can easily identify with as she is thrust into a world she hardly comprehends.
As with other foreign language programs on Netflix, I would insist that you watch The Empress in its original German with subtitles if you have the option to do so in your native tongue. The English dub is inferior to hearing the cast speak in their native language and tell the story as intended.
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The Empress Trailer
How Realistic is Netflix’s the Empress?
Is The Empress based on a real-life event? Yes, The Empress is based on the life of Empress Elisabeth “Sisi” of Austria, who married Emperor Franz of Austria at age 16 in 1854. (per History.com).
Elisabeth and Franz, Did They Love Each Other?
The emperor’s eyes wandered to the young, unaffected girl. The 15-year-old Elisabeth, often known as ‘Sisi,’ was a gorgeous beauty who radiated youth. The Kaiser fell instantly in love with her, and Sisi’s life was irrevocably altered.
Does the Empress Have a Satisfying Conclusion?
Then, Elizabeth discovers she is pregnant. However, right before she tells Franz, she discovers that he agrees with his mother and wants her to come home. Elisabeth, heartbroken, refrains from telling Franz about her pregnancy and instead resolves to leave.