Austrian history - tv series?

I was wondering if anyone knows of a movie/television series about Austrian history? I would love to learn more about the history before going to Austria this fall. I was hoping maybe PBS has done a series or something?
Let me know if you have any suggestions.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

This probably isn't exactly what your looking for... but the "Sisi Trilogy" starring Romy Schneider is extremely popular in Germanic Europe. Much like "It's a Wonderful Life" in the US, watching the Sisi movies at Christmas has become an enduring tradition. You'll learn about as much over Austrian history as you would from "The Sound of Music", but at least it's something.

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
342 posts

I think you can stream the Sisi series on Netflix, although it is not complete, only the first three. Tom did they ever finish that series? There is also a very old series about Johann Strauss, which aired on PBS LONG ago. I think Netflix has it as well. Of course watch The Third Man...Vienna has changed totally from that era, but there are still remnants of what was shot in the movie around the city. There was also a movie (pretty crappy) called Mayerling?

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9134 posts

They only made three Sisi movies, although the same actress played an older and less romanticized version of Sisi in a later movie about Ludwig II of Bavaria.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Hi, Yes, PBS did such a series. Watch the pertinent episodes related to the Austria in "Fall of the Dynasties" covering the the 70 year period from the 1848 Revolution to the end of WW I, ie., spanning the reign of Franz Josef. It's a British production that was shown on PBS. Two films from Hollywood from the late '40/'50s on this historical period and up to the Anschluss worth watching are: "The Emperor Waltz" with Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine. 2. more seriously..."The Angel with the Trumpet" with Oskar Werner as a misfit in the pre-1914 era ending up as a Nazi.

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

Jesse , Go to You Tube ( Yes , YOUTUBE ) and search " Vienna 1900 " . There is quite a variety of pertinent material to choose from . Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century was a cauldron of artistic and intellectual activity that was at least equivalent ( if not greater ) to the Parisien Belle Epoque . Figures like Freud , Klimt , Mahler , Schnitzler , Otto Wagner , Hugo Von Hoffmansthal ; I could go on forever , changed society and and civilization in unimaginable ways . Of particular note is an interview with neuroscientist Eric Kandel about his recent book pertaining to much of this " The Age of Insight " . Having been an avid student of this subject for over forty years , I too am headed to Vienna in the fall ( two weeks for Vienna in addition to several other destinations ) , to finally see , at the age of 67 , what I have read and dreamt about unceasingly since my early twenties !

Posted by steven
white plains, ny, usa
650 posts

One other reccomendation ; Probably one of the finest films ever made , set in Fin-de-Siecle Vienna , is Max Ophul's " Letter from an Unknown Woman " . Based on a story by Stefan Zweig , it perfectly conveys the world of Viennese society at the turn of the last century . Available on Amazon , or probably netflix , this film , long unavailable , is finally obtainable . A MUST SEE !!

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
342 posts

Fred, I think you mean Fall of Eagles. It is also available on Netflix.

Posted by Jesse
St. Louis, MO, USA
161 posts

Wow, thank you for all the suggestions! I will look in to them. I will take book suggestions too - they just have to be very engaging. With all the reading I do as a student, it takes a very interesting/engaging book to add it to my long reading list. :)

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

Sorry, you're right. Yes, I did mean the "Fall of the Eagles" with its outstanding British cast, except Curt Jurgens playing Bismarck...should have proof read.

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
342 posts

Fred, No worries. I wish they would do an updated production of that series. Jesse,
There is a book on the Habsburgs by Andrew Wheatcroft titled The Habsburgs, which is very informative and not a bad read.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2702 posts

What I am saying about the cast is that they are all outstanding, and that includes Curt jurgens as Bismarck. He is one of the few non-British actors, as I recall, in the entire series. Yes, an update on the series would be good, since the series is over 30 years old.

Posted by Alex
Longmont, CO, USA
342 posts

Fred,
Yes a good cast. A fun thing with that series is you see a young Patrick Stewart playing Vladimir Lenin. Of course he went on to I Claudius as the vile Sejanus and then as Capt Jean luc Picard in Star Trek Next Gen.

Posted by Robert
Happy Valley, PA
156 posts

Since you're not going until the fall, why not read a book, such as Gordon Brook-Shepherd's THE AUSTRIANS: A THOUSAND YEAR ODYSSEY. Saw it is available in paperback from Amazon.

Posted by Allen
Lafayette, LA
194 posts

You can find all sorts of documentaries about Austrian history on Youtube. That could easily keep you occupied for days. Many excellent programs from the BBC. And then there is...The Third Man. Certainly no documentary, but it really gives a sense of Post-WWII Vienna. I consider The Third Man to be one of the best movies ever made.