Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ludwig (1972)

This movie is about King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1886), from his coronation until the day he was found drown in the river with his physician. They say this king was mad, and here Visconti takes us to a journey, to know about this king, mostly from the testimonies of the people near to him. Falling in love with his married cousin, Elisabeth of Austria (Romy Schneider reprised her role as Sissi, but different from the sweet character from the popular series. Here, she tells Ludwig bitterly about her loneliness, that Franz Joseph chooses to go to war instead to be with her, and how she never gets along with her mother-in-law.), Ludwig is disappointed when Sissi tries to make him marry her sister, Sophie. Ludwig asks for her hand, but later breaks off the engagement. He spends state money to indulge his favourite musician, Wagner, and his favourite actor, Joseph Kainz. He also spends lots of money to build castles: Linderhof, Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee; which are left empty. Finally his ministers cannot endure his eccentricism anymore and has a physician to declare him mad and unfit to rule. He is taken to Berg Castle, where later he and the doctor are dead.

The movie is extremely beautiful. As I have never been to Germany, I am really grateful with the numerous shots of the castles, i.e. when Queen Elizabeth comes to inspect them. The scene I love most probably when Ludwig feeds the swans.

The DVD comes with a documentary about Luchino Visconti from RAI, which is also included in Masters of Cinema's Rocco and His Brothers. However, there are also documentary about Suso Cecchi d'Amico, the writer who has worked with great Italian directors; and actress Silvana Mangano; both are very interesting.

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