Alexander Glehr and Johanna Scherz
Director of Photography:
It’s Christmas time, 1877, in the Austro-Hungarian capital of Vienna, and Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) is celebrating her 40th birthday alongside her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph (Florian Teichtmeister), and their hoity-toity royal guests. Whispers murmur that it’s all downhill from there, and her image – including her infamously ever-cinched corset – is under increasing scrutiny. After the festivities, with her roles increasingly reduced to that of ceremonial appearances such as visiting injured soldiers and waving to her hardscrabble and often uncongenial subjects, Elisabeth blanches at the thought of wasting away (as, unbeknownst to her, the empire is doing). Restlessness guides her peregrinations – under the guise of convalescence – from England to Bavaria, where she tantalises former lovers, stokes her lore, and, with the help of her trusted handmaid, experiments with masquerading before her looking-glass world. Her cunning fools even the cognoscenti and, under her aegis, a young lover is secured for the Emperor – yet still, the Empress is all but free.