A huge panorama of Richard Wagner's life and work, from before the 1848 revolution, through his exile in Switzerland, his rescue by the besotted King Ludwig II of Bavaria, to the final ... See full summary »

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1984   1983   1981  




Series cast summary:
Richard Burton ...  Richard Wagner 10 episodes, 1981-1984
Vanessa Redgrave ...  Cosima von Bulow 9 episodes, 1981-1984
László Gálffi László Gálffi ...  King Ludwig II of Bavaria / ... 9 episodes, 1981-1984
John Gielgud ...  Pfistermeister 9 episodes, 1981-1984
Miguel Herz-Kestranek Miguel Herz-Kestranek ...  Hans von Bülow 8 episodes, 1981-1984
Gyula Benkö ...  Narrator 8 episodes, 1981-1984
Gemma Craven ...  Minna / ... 7 episodes, 1981-1984
Ralph Richardson ...  Pfordten 6 episodes, 1983-1984
Richard Pasco Richard Pasco ...  Otto Wesendonck 5 episodes, 1981-1983
Laurence Olivier ...  Pfeuffer 5 episodes, 1983-1984
Ronald Pickup ...  Nietzsche / ... 5 episodes, 1983-1984
Andrew Cruickshank Andrew Cruickshank ...  Narrator / ... 5 episodes, 1981-1983


A huge panorama of Richard Wagner's life and work, from before the 1848 revolution, through his exile in Switzerland, his rescue by the besotted King Ludwig II of Bavaria, to the final triumph at Bayreuth. Richard Wagner's radical musical and political ideas, his German nationalism, and even his anti-Semitism are set in the context of his life and times. Written by Adrian Thorpe <acthorpe@epic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




UK | Austria | Hungary



Release Date:

December 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Wagner - Das Leben und Werk Richard Wagners See more »

Filming Locations:

Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(restored integral)

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Composer William Walton has a cameo as King Frederick Augustus II of Saxony. Walton was seventy-eight at the time and played the King as a doddering old fool. The real Frederick Augustus was only about fifty-years-old at the time of the action. See more »


When Ludwig is wading into the water to drown himself, automobiles are seen driving on a highway on the far shore. See more »

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User Reviews

This was a wonderful movie!
10 September 2010 | by Catharina_SwedenSee all my reviews

This movie was almost perfect! It was both informative and accurate, and very, very beautiful, suggestive, and romantic. It was a really, really good tribute to Wagner, who was - in my opinion - the greatest composer of all time. He has given so much joy to so many! :-) Richard Burton was also perfect in the role, except for the fact that he looked a bit too old and weary in the scenes where Wagner should still be a man in younger middle-age. But it was worth it to have Burton in the role, I think, because he had that strange quality which drew women even when he looked really worn and haggard towards the end of his life. The same quality that Wagner himself must have had, considered all the young mistresses he had even up to his death.

The only flaw - which is the reason I do not give the movie 10 stars - is that one got to see too little of the operas in their finished state. I wish they would have included at least a few minutes of master-pieces such as the love duet between Siegfried and Brünnhilde in the last act of Siegfried, or Siegmund's song to spring in the first act of Walküre, or "Feuerzauber" in the third act of the same.

Because as it was, I believe that even if Wagner's music was in the background for most of the score, people who did not know Wagner's great operas before they watched this title, did not get to realize his greatness from it...

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