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Ludwig (1973)

2:17 | Clip
The reign of the tormented Ludwig, king of Bavaria, from 1864 to 1886.


Luchino Visconti


Luchino Visconti (story and screenplay), Enrico Medioli (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Helmut Berger ... Ludwig
Romy Schneider ... Elisabeth of Austria
Trevor Howard ... Richard Wagner
Silvana Mangano ... Cosima Von Bülow
Gert Fröbe ... Father Hoffman
Helmut Griem ... Dürckheim
Izabella Telezynska Izabella Telezynska ... Queen Mother
Umberto Orsini ... Count Von Holnstein
John Moulder-Brown ... Prince Otto (as John Moulder Brown)
Sonia Petrovna ... Sophie (as Sonia Petrova)
Folker Bohnet Folker Bohnet ... Joseph Kainz
Heinz Moog Heinz Moog ... Professor Von Gudden
Adriana Asti ... Lila Von Buliowski
Marc Porel ... Richard Hornig
Nora Ricci ... Countess Ida Ferenczy


Historical evocation of Ludwig, king of Bavaria, from his crowning in 1864 until his death in 1886, as a romantic hero. Fan of Richard Wagner, betrayed by him, in love with his cousin Elisabeth of Austria, abandonned by her, tormented by his homosexuality, he will little by little slip towards madness. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The mad King of Bavaria See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Romy Schneider only agreed to reprise the trademark role of her youth as Empress Elisabeth of Austria if the role would avoid all the usual clichés associated with the character and she would be allowed to portray Elisabeth as the cynical and disillusioned woman Elisabeth was known to be historically, though she did concede to put famous diamond decorations in her hair for one short scene. See more »


Ludwig: But it's easier to fight a duel than to write a letter.
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Alternate Versions

The recent Fox Lorber video release runs approx. 236 minutes. It was listed, in the opening credits as the "versione integrale" in Italian, produced with the association of RAI. At the end of the film, it credits the dubbers. See more »


Referenced in The Disenchantment (1976) See more »


to "Lohengrin"
Written by Richard Wagner
See more »

User Reviews

twilight of the Gods
9 June 2002 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

First released in 1972,with a running time of three hours,the movie was a colossal flop and it was sold by auction.It was the eighties before it was re-released as TV series,with a lot of added scenes :the running time was nearing four hours and the restored scenes gave the movie more substance.Now the film is often broadcast as a whole but its length and its very slow pace might repel some people.

It should not be missed though;it is one of Visconti's peaks,and probably the most underrated .In "la caduta dei degli"(1969),history was on the stage ,with the rise of the Nazis:the hero,Martin,(also played by Helmut Berger),was some kind of puppet in the hands of his mother and the Hitlerians.In "Ludwig",he stands alone,it's really the story of a solitary man,trying to establish a lasting relationship with one human being:first, Sophie,Sissy's sister :but it was not to succeed because he treated her like a Wagnerian heroin,or a Sissy ersatz .Sissy (Elisabeth,Empress of Austria)was not fooled:"do you want me to be your impossible love? " she says;of course she knew Ludwig was an invert.Wagner made use of Ludwig because he helped his career,but there was no friendship from him.Ludwig had to content himself with his (male) lovers he used to pick up everywhere around.

As the movie progresses,Ludwig is more and more alone,and his megalomania knows no bound.He makes up for his sad destiny with his extravagant castles,but politically he was still aware.He first refused to raise troops during the 1870 war and reluctantly did because of the Prussian' s pression;that might be the reason why,when you come to Bavaria today,the people there do not accept the fact Ludwig ended his life as an insane.

Helmut Berger was to make another movie with Visconti(gruppo di famiglia in un interno,1975),then his career quickly waned after Visconti's death;it was really too bad,because he had shown he could be an impressive actor.Romy Schneider portrayed Sissy for the fourth time(after the famous mushy trilogy "Sissi" "Sissi die junge Kaiserin" "Sissi ,Schicksal einer Kaiserin",which Schneider hated,),but this time in a historically accurate way.She acted as though she had got a score to settle with this character.(hear her lines about her husband and her family:it's a far cry from the Ernst Marischka's trilogy)

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Italy | France | West Germany | Monaco


Italian | German | French

Release Date:

8 March 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ludwig: The Mad King of Bavaria See more »

Filming Locations:

Bavaria, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (original) | (original) | (original) | (Press Sheet)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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