Ruth Beckermann's investigation into the field of historically mystified empress Elisabeth is a perfect example for the powerful and poetic way the director challenges and re-interprets the embellished elements of Austrian self-conception from a critical contemporary point of view. Well done!
This documentary is more than just a simple tracery of Empress Sisi's life, but an meta-textual exploration of the romanticism inherent to creating a documentary about the later travels of a non-conforming heavily romanticized Empress venturing towards the heavily romanticized Orient through this approach, emphasizing on the limitations of such romanticization, but also reaffirming its necessity.
A gentle wander through an Egyptian market (Ketèlbey would have been tempted to compose a piece I am sure), some lovely dunes and beautiful female faces, some worshipers and a herd of camels taking a tea break.
Thoughts on travelling; the travelling of the author and its protagonist.
Though the images and voice together do often trigger a searching and therefore active mind of the viewer (really well done!) I find it irritating that relation of the author and its protagonist seems to be not based on anything 'real'. Woman and austrian?
I would have done without Sissi.
Beckermann's narration in this essay-piece on Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary in Cairo can best be described as drifting through recurring topoi of orientalism and her subjective experience on site. She links these approaches to the autobiographical writings of Elisabeth as well as the cinematic production of reality - though at times lacking in precision.
A journey after an imageless empress since age 31, the movie pictures what it calls "the layer of images" in different epochs: fin de siecle, orientalism, modernity, post-colonialism, women, and the self-reflexivity of the image itself. Through the camera eye and the a-synchronic voice-over, the layers emerge as we are constantly reminded that there are apparitions of oriental history, an oppressed woman, a director.
I really enjoy Beckermann's work and this documentary/essay on Sissi (Empress Elisabeth of Austria) is no exception. Beckermann has a gentle, but insistent way of drawing me in to her work, peeling away facades and allowing a very unique view of the past.
Interesting essay doco. Because of the sheer amount of narration, this was one of the few times I felt at a significant disadvantage speaking only one language, as I missed some of the similarities and juxtapostions between image and words. The dual perspectives are fascinating. Along the way is an extremely perceptive observation about the West's simplistic view of Egypt (exotic romanticism vs fanatical terrorism).