Leopoldine Habsburg - Fanny Altenburger

Universum History: Leopoldina Habsburg – The birth of modern Brazil

7 September 2022 marks the 200th anniversary of Brazil’s independence from the colonial power Portugal. “Universum History: Leopoldine Habsburg – The Birth of Modern Brazil” tells the story of the genesis of the Brazilian republic and, based on the life of the “mother of the country” Leopoldine von Habsburg, illuminates the path from the colony to the empire to the military coup and republic in 1889.

Freedom, co-determination and human rights, enshrined in a constitution. These words and the ideas behind them have terrified the European nobility since the French Revolution. The trauma of the revolution – the end of the certainty surrounding the divine right – shaped the period of the Napoleonic wars, the Congress of Vienna, it shaped the politics of the entire 19th century, triggered the process of decolonisation and accompanied the independence movements in South America.

In 1809, the Portuguese king Joao VI, fleeing from Napoleon, moves his court overseas, to his colony of Brazil. Joao VI makes Brazil a kingdom in 1815, de facto equating it with Portugal, which costs him power in his country of origin. His son, Pedro I, finally makes himself emperor over the country and renounces Portugal altogether. The first step towards independence – but Brazil still has a long way to go before the Republic is proclaimed in 1889.

This path is closely linked to the story of a Habsburg princess – Leopoldine, daughter of Francis I, who was the first European princess to be “sold” overseas. The Brazilians see her as the mother of their country, because without her political work, without her influence on her husband, the later Emperor Pedro I, the former colony would probably have disintegrated into republics shaken by civil war in the 1920s and would not exist in its present form.

The film was directed by Katherina Heigl, who was also responsible for the screenplay. Fanny Altenburger, Haris Ademovic, Erwin Steinhauer, Martin Gruber, Anna Lang and Gabriela Garcia-Vargas can be seen in re-enacted scenes.

“Universum History: The Birth of Modern Brazil” is a production of Satel Film (producer: Bettina Kuhn) for ORF and ZDF Arte with the support of Fernsehfonds Austria, Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the EU, Filmfonds Wien, the Province of Lower Austria and VAM. ORF Enterprise is responsible for distribution.

Creative Europe

with the support of Creative Europe –
MEDIA Programme of the European Union