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The reign of the tormented Ludwig, king of Bavaria, from 1864 to 1886.

Director:

Luchino Visconti

Writers:

Luchino Visconti (story and screenplay), Enrico Medioli (story and screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Ludwig. He loved women. He loved men. He lived as controversially as he ruled. But he did not care what the world thought. He was the world. From Luchino Visconti, the director of "The Damned" and "Death in Venice". Once again your eyes will be opened. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy | France | West Germany

Language:

Italian | German | French

Release Date:

8 March 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ludwig See more »

Filming Locations:

Bavaria, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After playing Elisabeth of Austria in the Sissi trilogy in the fifties, Romy Schneider made clear she didn't want to have anything to do with the Austrian empress anymore, claiming the character ruined her career as an actress because everyone subsequently wanted to see her in romantic roles. She only agreed to appear in Ludwig (1973) as a favor to Luchino Visconti who was a very good friend of hers. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Costumes from the Films of Visconti (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Liebestod
from "Tristan und Isolde"
Written by Richard Wagner
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An enigma
23 August 2007 | by alexx668See all my reviews

In this last part of his German trilogy, Visconti delves the most into the human psyche, and in particular it's contradictory forces within. On one hand the self-destructive urge for physical pleasure, on the other the spiritual search for the sublime. The Dionysean and the Apollonian. Body and soul.

Ludwig II, aka the "mad" king of Bavaria, is dragged to the limits by these two opposite forces. Losing focus on a vulgar reality, he surrenders to sexual perversion and yet also to a search for artistic purity, eventually leading him to madness, and finally to death. Trying in vein to find the sublime and eternal kingdom of the literary heroes he craves for, his behavior becomes more and more erratic until he is violently dethroned (a recurring theme in Visconti's work: the fall of aristocracy and the rise of bourgeois democracy).

Visconti directs this paradox with a highly elegant style, influenced by the romanticism of painters like Caspar David Friedrich and Frederic Edwin Church. The movie reaches a climax at around the third hour, when Ludwig and his protégé Joseph Kainz travel together through the endless frozen night, so that Ludwig shows Kainz his "real kingdom, the mountains under the moonlight, a world for ourselves, pure and uncontaminated". "Think about your soul, not about your body" Ludwig tells him. This a last hurrah. After Kainz's rejection, Ludwig declines further in decay and resignation.

The events depicting the conspiracy that dethrones him are grotesquely-staged and almost out of sync, emphasizing Ludwig's confusion and ill mental-state. Knowing his downfall is near, he confesses to one of the staff how he believes in the immortality of the soul and God's justice. "I've read many things about materialism", he says, "but it will never satisfy a man, cause he doesn't want to be put in the same level as beasts". That's a rare confession for Visconti.

After he is captured, the film once again alters in style, to a kind of austere chamber-cinema with a funereal feel. Near the end (and his death), Ludwig says to psychiatrist professor Gudden: "There is nothing more beautiful and fascinating than the night. They say the cult of the night, of the moon, is a maternal cult. The cult of sun, of daytime, is a masculine myth, therefore paternal. However the mystery, the greatness of night, for me lie in the infinite sublime kingdom of the heroes, which is also the kingdom of reason. Poor Dr. Gudden, you are forced to study me from dawn to dusk and from dusk to dawn. But I am an enigma, and I want to be an enigma forever, for the world and for myself".

Just like man. Sublime.


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