Rediscover the Fascinating Story of Empress Isabel with “The Empress” Series
If you were captivated by the drama and elegance of “The Crown” and “Bridgerton,” then “The Empress” is the next series you absolutely must watch. Finally, the streaming giant has brought to life one of history’s most iconic characters: Empress Isabel of Austria, also known as Sissi. “The Empress” offers a captivating narrative set in a historical backdrop, filled with palace intrigues, romance, and female empowerment.
The Irresistible Appeal of Empress Isabel’s Story
The empress’s story has gained popularity thanks to the films starring Romy Schneider. The character became an alter ego for the actress, who portrayed her in three movies centered around the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph (plus another title directed by Luchino Visconti in 1972). While these films may not have been historically accurate, they focused on the most captivating details to create a fairy tale-like narrative out of their relationship. The newer adaptations, like the Netflix series “The Empress,” bring us closer to the real events while allowing for certain fictional liberties. The life of Empress Isabel of Bavaria continues to provide rich material for a timeless love story: a sudden infatuation between two individuals who are complete opposites, problems with an overpowering mother-in-law in a palace that feels like a cage to a free-spirited young princess turned Empress of Austria, not to mention her husband’s political issues, the rebellion of the people, the rigid traditions of the court, and the weight on her shoulders to produce an heir to the throne.
A Fresh Take on Empress Isabel’s Story
Schneider’s portrayal made the empress popular, followed by several television productions. In fact, this December, we will see a completely different version from the previous ones, with Vickie Krieps playing an adult Isabel with the same indomitable character in “Corsage.”
For the German-produced version of “The Empress” on Netflix, Devrim Lingnau takes on the role of Isabel, bringing a more up-to-date style to the character while still honoring the period setting. She exudes strength and resilience, departing from the delicate appearance often associated with the empress. Philip Froissant portrays Emperor Franz, and together, they create a chemistry and sweetness befitting the most important couple in 19th-century Europe.
A Tale of Romance, Challenges, and Intrigue
On one hand, “The Empress” explores the effervescent, Hollywood-style romance of Sissi. On the other hand, it delves into the trickier aspects of her life, beginning with her mother-in-law, Archduchess Sophia, her entourage of ladies, and the strict palace protocol. Inevitably, the character reminds us of Diana, Princess of Wales, whom we met in “The Crown” in the previous season. Threats will come from all directions, but Sissi, in her own way, accepts the challenges and plays her cards. She expresses her opinions on political agreements, social visits, and even in the face of the flirtations of Maximilian, the Emperor’s brother, a young man as rebellious as herself, who desires both the throne and her.
An Era of Intrigue and Real Events
While we await the political maneuverings of “The Crown,” “The Empress” offers a similar chess game but set more than a hundred years earlier. Real events and palace intrigues are always an enticing combination.
The series finds success by incorporating drama, passionate scenes, and the overflowing emotions of both the central couple and the supporting characters. Just like in “Bridgerton,” certain elements of the aesthetics have been modernized to make the series more appealing to contemporary audiences. However, “The Empress” strikes a good balance, avoiding excessive anachronisms, which can be seen in Shonda Rhimes’ series. The German production represents the Habsburg court with taste, without the same extravagance that “Bridgerton” showcases in portraying England during the Regency era. Where “The Empress” does resemble the other series is in its exploration of fortuitous romance, family quarrels, and palace gossip. And, of course, there is room for intimate moments as well.
A Captivating Journey to 19th-Century Vienna
Like the other two best original series on Netflix, “The Empress” is a production of the highest quality. Effortlessly, it transports us back to the 19th century, to the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The series reveals the complexities of its leading character and fully utilizes her potential, offering a less sugary but more courageous portrayal.
Currently, there are no announcements about a second season. However, given the initial response and the cliffhanger ending of the sixth and final episode, there will likely be news soon. Considering the remaining real-life events yet to be depicted, it would not be surprising if there were more seasons to come. But, as they say, patience is key when it comes to matters of the palace.