Her death mask
shows a still-beautiful woman imo, but maybe it was smoothed down. Her face looks severe - her eating disorders must have taken their toll.
She's an interesting woman with her inner contradictions. She had an ambivalent relationship with everything and everybody except for her youngest daughter whom she really loved. She was ambivalent about her own beauty - she used it to manipulate the Emperor and the court, she saw it as yoke, she wanted to preserve it and destroyed it with her methods.
She was ambivalent about her position - in her heart, she was a republican, as her Heine-style poetry shows, but she never reached out to her similarly-progressive son (who felt lost and lonely all his life) and never tried to influence her husband to introduce some reforms (which might have helped the Empire stay afloat). Her only political interest was her romantic preference for Hungary - which caused much trouble with other minorities in this multi-ethnic empire.
She was ambivalent about her husband, too, and was glad when he started his relationship with Katharina Schratt.
Empress Frederick, no beauty herself but as happy to see beauty as her mother, found her enchanting.
There is something very sad about her and with all the kitsch in these movies, Romy Schneider caught that very well. Beautiful and radiant on the outside, sombre and out of place when you really look at her. Romy Schneider really lifted these movies from the Heimatfilm genre and gave Sisi real depth.
I never heard anywhere that she was called Lisi and I don't believe it. Everybody knew her as Sisi, and her sister was called Nene (from Helene). There were many Elisabeth in her family and they all had nicknames. Her aunt, queen of Prussia and Sisi's godmother, was called Elise by everybody. So many people wrote her name, and they all wrote their S like their L? Hard to believe. Many people in the 19th century wrote Kurrent handwriting where these two letters don't resemble. (I see Brigitte Hamann, quite the authority, agrees
with me ;-) ) Sisi herself, as far as I can see on the Internet, used both scripts.
I see her as interesting personality but whenever I read about her, she irritates me because she's self-centered. She never makes any effort on behalf of her family except for Marie-Valerie, and her country or husband. She could have done so much.
It's probably unfair to compare her to Empress Frederickk who was so active on behalf of her country, women's rights, education, health care, democratisation, fight against anti-Semitism... people are different, and the Habsburg court was even more ossified than the Prussian/German court.
But isn't it strange that Sisi is revered today because of her beauty and tragic life and death, while poor Vicky is nearly forgotten...?
I wonder what would have happened if Franz Joseph had married Nene as planned :-) What a silly game, historical "what if", but great fun nevertheless.