Corsage, as seen by Marie Kreutzer

Picture of the film CORSAGE by Marie KREUTZER © Felix Vratny

In Corsage, Austrian director Marie Kreutzer portrays an Elizabeth of Austria with a hunger for knowledge and a zest for life in the face of conventions that stifle her. A film starring Vicky Krieps, who masterfully embodies the young empress who is forced to follow a rigorous regimen of fasting, exercises, hair styling, and daily measurements of her waist.

What inspired you to begin work on this film?

It was Vicky Krieps herself who asked me to make a film about Empress Elisabeth with her. I laughed and said, "What for?", but the idea grew like a seed inside me, so at some point I decided to dive into the biographies and look for that certain spark that would resonate with me.


Please describe your working method and the atmosphere on set. 

I think what female directors are really good at having a relaxed atmosphere on set where everyone feels appreciated. Actually that’s the "emotional work" which is always done by women, in families, in friendships, and at work. But of course I only know it first hand from my own set. I choose the team wisely in order to have complete trust in everyone’s competence and support and I only work with people I really like, behind and in front of the camera. Filmmaking is so exhausting and you have to be surrounded by good souls ! I feel very safe there and only then I am able to let go. When I direct, I need to be very intuitive. I don’t really THINK anymore on set. I just try to be really present and feel if scenes work, if I believe the actors, if the framing supports that etc.  Everyone else has to be really present too, because there are no marks for the actors and they are allowed to do literally everything, so as a focus puller or sound boomer you better be fast, and continuity usually has a hard time, too.


Please share a few words about your actors.

I still cannot name what it is that makes an actor or an actress so special that I am willing to watch their every move for the shoot and the editing and all the postproduction. It is a special kind of love I have for them. Vicky is absolutely unpredictable, and I would never intend to tame that spirit of hers. I never know what she’s coming up with and where she takes it from and how the fuck she does it ! I think we have a similar way of finding inspiration everywhere and letting it flow into the work without thinking much about it.

The actors I choose all seem to trust my and the camera’s view completely. They are willing to let go of a "plan" they eventually made for the role, and they are willing to let go of vanity. I let go and they let go and that’s what makes working together so beautiful. I think you cannot be a great actor or actress if you can’t trust and if you can’t be 100% in the moment.


What did you learn during the course of making this film?

I learned a lot about coproduction and even more than before that communication is everything. I learned that you can’t be loved all the time and that you need to trust your vision. I learned that a crying director can still shoot a beautiful scene, it’s one of the key scenes of the movie and both me and Vicky were crying because everything was so hard that day.


What would you like people to remember from your film?

I never expect anything from the audience. I want them to remember what THEY find important in the film. I would love them to find a spark in it, something they can take home. If they do, that’s all I can achieve.


What inspired you to become a filmmaker?  What were the sources of your inspiration?

I was a creative child, drawing all the time, then starting to write stories before I even turned six. I remember drawing and speaking the dialogues of the people I was drawing. I mean, that’s actually filmmaking !


What is your cult film and why?

The film that made me think that I want to direct was The Ice Storm by Ang Lee and the film I saw most often is Les Choses de la Vie by Claude Sautet. I also loved Arizona Dream by Emir Kusturica. I am a little bit sad that I am not naming any female directors here!


Can you tell us about your next project?

There’s two I am writing which are completely different, one so dark I’m afraid nobody will want to see it and the other one a comedy. I really don’t know!