To be a German aristocrat is not an easy job, certainly. The agenda is full of unimportant events they must attend where they have to suffer the company of other bored aristocrats (as well as drink with them). Having this in your longhaired mind, you can imagine then what a complicated matter it is to be a king in Deutschland because the trifling matters mentioned above multiply faster than commoners.
In order to illustrate the hard life of a German king, Herr Wilhelm Dieterle ( before being known as William during his prolific and long USA talkie career ) directed in the silent year of 1930 ( well, certainly at that time, silents were becoming as unusual as monarchies in old Europe ) "Ludwig der Zweite, König von Bayern", a silent biopic about the last part of the life of His Highness King Ludwig II, king of Bavaria.
Herr Ludwig 's personality made him an interesting screen character. His life was full of luxuries but also eccentricities and finally madness; his story has all the necessary ingredients to appeal a busybody Teutonic audience who could then contemplate the miserable life of one of their most controversial kings.
His Highness Ludwig II had a special love for the Arts; he was Herr Richard Wagner's patron and he gave the composer economic help at the beginning of his career when he was writing operas ( Herr Ludwig II's eccentricity thus has even caused suffering today). The king built many sumptuous castles, not in the air but scattered around Bavaria adorning in this way the country. This failed to impress his subjects and their loyalty to their sovereign wavered and their discontent was encouraged by politicians who finally conspired against the king, declared him mentally ill and deposed him. He subsequently died under strange circumstances.
Herr Wilhelm Dieterle, who also plays Ludwig II in the film, depicts very well the controversies around the figure of the Bavarian king. The film is a lavish UFA production which means the art direction and the historical settings are all that you would expect. The contrast between the dreamy, whimsical king and his down to earth and fickle subjects is carefully depicted and faithful to history.
Herr Dieterle 's restrained performance, showing the contradictions, whims and wishful thinking of the monarch as well as his isolation, is especially remarkable. His Ludwig is a tormented king who is not appreciated, a man who lives in his idealized kingdom of Arts but has to deal with cruel reality and greedy politicians and bureaucrats as well as his uncomprehending people. All that was certainly enough to drive His Highness Ludwig II mad.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must build castles in Spain.
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