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Forever My Love

Forever My Love(1962)

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teaser Forever My Love (1962)

"Once in a Lifetime...The Opulence and Magnitude...The Gilt and Glory of a Mighty Empire! You will live this unforgettable spectacle in all its turbulence and magnitude, in all its pomp and power! The Once-in-a-Lifetime Story of a Royal Affair!" proclaimed the American posters for Forever My Love (1962), a compilation of three films produced in Germany in the 1950s: Sissi (1955), Sissi-die junge Kaiserin (1956), and Sissi-Schicksalsjahre einer Kaiserin (1957). Each was loosely based on the life of the Austrian Empress Elisabeth (1837-1898) who was known as "Sissi."

The star was Romy Schneider, who had made her mark at sixteen by playing Queen Victoria of England in The Story of Vickie (1954), released in the United States in 1958. Ernst Marischka had directed Schneider in The Story of Vickie and was so impressed with her performance that he cast her in the role of Sissi.

All of the screenplays for Forever My Love were based on the 1932 Viennese operetta Sissy, with music and libretto by Ernst Marischka, his brother, Hubert, and the great composer and violinist Fritz Kreisler. It was a frothy, flamboyant costume drama set in the Austria of the 1850s. Archduchess Sophie (Vilma Degischer) has decided that her son, the Emperor Franz Josef (Karlheinz Bhm), will marry Princess Helene of Bavaria (Uta Franz). Franz Josef meets Sissi and mistakes her for a country girl. Although pledged to Helene, Franz Josef falls in love with Sissi, and when the time comes to announce his marriage, he chooses her, instead. After the marriage, Sissi tries her best to please everyone but breaks traditions and protocols with her open manner, which helps to endear her to her new country. Also in the cast were Romy Schneider's mother, the famed German actress Magda Schneider as Sissi's mother, the Duchess Ludovika, and Gustav Knuth as Duke Max of Bavaria.

The Austrian production company Wien-Film GmbH made the trilogy, with distribution in the United States by Paramount Pictures. Marischka also served as director and producer, with music by Burt Bacharach (who wrote the title track) and Anton Profes. Forever My Love debuted in New York on March 27, 1962.

The film was total escapist fare for Austria and Germany, still recovering from the defeat and destruction of World War II. Audiences wanted to look back with rose-colored glasses at a more successful past and these films became the most successful in the Austrian film industry for decades. Today, they continue to play on television, often as an event on Christmas. The role of Sissi made Romy Schneider an international star, but it became an albatross around her neck. Schneider's public persona became so identified with the sweet, virginal role that the press and public began to refer to her by that name. Her handlers, including her mother, encouraged the association, with Magda Schneider telling the press, "This child has not yet been in touch with the filth of the world." By the time she had completed the third film, Romy Schneider had grown tired of the role, even turning down 1million Deutschmark to make a fourth film, which shocked and disappointed audiences. She would later revisit the role in a more realistic film, Luchino Visconti's Ludwig (1972).

Bock, Hans-Michael and Bergfelder, Tim The Concise Cinegraph: Encyclopaedia of German Cinema
Dominic, Serene Burt Bacharach, Song by Song: The Ultimate Burt Bacharach Reference for Fans
The Internet Movie Database
Krmer, Nadja, Ginsberg, Terri, and Mensch, Andrea A Companion to German Cinema
Paletschek, Sylvia Popular Historiographies In The 19th And 20th Centuries
Schulte, Regina The Body of the Queen: Gender and Rule in the Courtly World, 1500-2000
Sellier, Julien Romy Schneider: une vie de star, une fin tragique

By Lorraine LoBianco

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