King Ludwig II of Bavaria is frustrated, having to accept parliament's will to join Bismarck, rather he his cultured Habsburg friends, in wars. His love-life being as fruitless, he seeks ... See full summary »
King Ludwig II of Bavaria is frustrated, having to accept parliament's will to join Bismarck, rather he his cultured Habsburg friends, in wars. His love-life being as fruitless, he seeks comfort in art. But building fairytale castles and an even grander opera for his musical idol Wagner proves so expensive, his cabinet ends up resorting to formally challenging his mental health, plausible as his beloved brother Otto contracted schizophrenia earlier. Tragedy now lurks in Ludwig's prison-castle. Written by
Helmut Kautner's biopic of the famous king was dwarfed by Visconti's four-hour mammoth magnum opus (1972).It did not deserve to fall into oblivion though.Of course people will complain because the writers passed over in silence the fact that this king was gay.In 1954,what else could they do? When they filmed Tchekovsky's life,they did the same.
Some people will say that Helmut Kautner took the easy way out : he made Ludwig's so called impossible love for Sissi the reason why he did not marry.Visconti's Elizabeth was not fooled when she ironically asked her cousin:"you want me to be your impossible love?" And however,I like this film: there are beautiful romantic scenes between OW Fisher and Ruth Leuwerick: "look at those clouds up above,they seem very near from each other but they are actually faraway"or "down there ,it's eternity" .The pacifist side of the king is highlighted,which made him a man ahead of his time ;what could such a man do in the company of such wolves as Bismarck and the other politicians of the era.Klaus Kinski -nowadays the most famous actor of the movie- appears as Otto and he makes each of his three scenes count: particularly impressive is that scene when he feels the first effects of the madness: Visconti's Otto is rather bland by comparison.
But the reason why you should give this movie a chance is its cinematography:the colors are splendid indeed ,sometimes luminous when Sissy urges Ludgwig to remain pure ,sometimes dark under an ominous sky when the king's megalomania knows no bound anymore.Dig that scene where the king and Sissy's sister Sophie are all alone in an opera theater and the girls breaks down crying "I cannot stand that anymore".Wagner's music enhances all the film and Visconti's and Kautner's treatments are not that much different as far as the musician is concerned.
At about the same Time,Ernst Marischka began his Sissy saga.
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