dir: Marie Kreutzer
I cannot tell you how little I care about the lives of aristocrats, any aristocrats.
Oh wait, I just did. I am no royalist, no defender of monarchies or privilege, let me tell you for free. My feelings towards the divinely anointed and all new fangled tech billionaires or old school robber barons are best summed up by the title of and lyrics to the Motörhead song Eat the Rich, which advocates for a very elegant solution to the eternal question of “how best do we dispense with this bullshit?”
So any and all of my appreciation for any flick should never be construed as an endorsement or support for any of these stratified lies of divine right or superiority-from-birth ideas.
There are, all the same, some great character studies in literature and film arising from depicting the lives of these awful people, make no mistake. Any character study of any historic person is only as powerful as the actor that depicts them, and the writer / director bringing them to life, all the same, whether they be princes or paupers or both.
I have never given much thought to the so-called Empress Sisi (Vicky Krieps) of the late Austro-Hungarian Empire (RIP Sisi and Archduke Franz Ferdinand, rest in power), and this flick is unlikely to cause me to fall down a rabbit hole of finding out everything about her. But I did enjoy watching Corsage, because it’s a very well made film with a luminous central performance by an amazing actor.
Corsage in the context of this flick is not a reference to that strange bouquet or posy of flowers that teenaged American high schoolers are given as a token earning the right to engage in some unseemly and not always entirely consensual activities after The Prom. That is something I know about only through decades of exposure to American movies and television, since it doesn’t seem to be a thing that exists anywhere else (and no I’m not talking about school formals etc).
Corsage here is a reference to the corset that we often watch Sisi being laced into. Of course, those of us who have been watching period piece / Regency bullshit for the last however many years automatically associate corsets as a physical manifestation of the oppression of women, of their enforced subservience throughout history and across society, of the general misogyny and specific chauvinism of patriarchy. Of how it grinds women down, making them smaller, making them lesser, until they disappear completely.