As his 12th feature film, and third project based on German history and personages, Luchino Visconti chose King Ludwig II (Helmut Berger), the so-called 'mad' monarch of Bavaria. Ludwig bears the Visconti stamp of dazzling, tasteful opulence and an operatic style. However, story construction is at first confusing.

As his 12th feature film, and third project based on German history and personages, Luchino Visconti chose King Ludwig II (Helmut Berger), the so-called ‘mad’ monarch of Bavaria. Ludwig bears the Visconti stamp of dazzling, tasteful opulence and an operatic style. However, story construction is at first confusing.

To its credit the English version [translated by William Weaver] is literate, free of arch transliteration, and dotted with occasional brilliant aphorism. But it barely helps the limitations of the overall structure.

Major phases of Ludwig’s life include his patronage of composer Richard Wagner, portrayed effectively by Trevor Howard; the spendthrift erection of castles; the introverted indifference to his responsibilities as king; a long platonic love affair with Empress Elisabeth of Austria, played with great compassion by the spectacularly beautiful Romy Schneider; and a pervading atmosphere of latent, then overt homosexuality.

The score utilizes themes of Wagner, Schumann and Offenbach, with piano solos and orchestra conducting by Franco Mannino. Wagner’s last original piano composition is performed publicly for first time herein.

1973: Nomination: Best Costume Design

Ludwig

Italy - France - W. Germany

Production

Mega/Cinetel/Divina. Director Luchino Visconti; Producer Ugo Santalucia; Screenplay Luchino Visconti, Enrico Medioli, Suso Cecchi D'Amico; Camera Armando Nannuzzi; Editor Ruggero Mastroianni; Music Franco Mannino (sup.); Art Director Mario Chiari, Mario Scisci

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on DVD. Extract of a review from 1973. Running time: 186 MIN.

With

Helmut Berger Romy Schneider Trevor Howard Silvana Mangano Gert Frobe Helmut Griem
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