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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1  
1984   1983   1981  

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Cast

Series cast summary:
Richard Burton ...  Richard Wagner 10 episodes, 1981-1984
Vanessa Redgrave ...  Cosima von Bulow 9 episodes, 1981-1984
László Gálffi ...  King Ludwig II of Bavaria / ... 9 episodes, 1981-1984
John Gielgud ...  Pfistermeister 9 episodes, 1981-1984
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 ...  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
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Storyline

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>

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Richard Burton and Dame Joan Plowright appeared in Equus (1977). See more »

Goofs

When Wagner speaks at the political meeting, the vertical German flags in the background have the wrong sequence of black-gold-red, while the ones draping the podium are the correct black-red-gold ones. (The flags are the 1832 Hambach Festival flag - the modern German flag dating from 1848 was developed from the Hambach colours) See more »

Alternate Versions

The version screened on British TV features Andrew Cruickshank as narrator, not Donald Moffat. See more »

User Reviews

 
His Music Transcends The Man
28 October 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The only thing that would have made Richard Wagner's life complete is for his friend and patron King Ludwig of Bavaria to have become the Kaiser of a united Germany rather than that Hohenzollern bunch from Prussia. He'd have had it made if that was the case.

Wagner was a genius not only in the composition of music, but in the production end as well. He might well be regarded as the Cecil B. DeMille of grand opera, the themes he wrote about were epic in nature requiring productions that were also epic. Wagner was constantly in need of money to support his grand style of living that he felt a genius ought to indulge in, but also for his productions. He searched for years before lighting on the King of Bavaria who had grand ideas about high living and felt it an honor to be the grand patron of the foremost German composer of his time.

Richard Burton in this long mini-series has plenty of time and plenty of dialog to capture the character of Wagner in all its aspects. Good thing the man was a genius because no one else would have put up with his bad behavior. Friends were there to serve him, even giving up their wives for his occasional passion and in one case for his great love, second wife Cosima played by Vanessa Redgrave.

The three classical acting knights, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, and John Gielgud are all ministers to King Ludwig played by Hungarian actor Laszlo Galffi. They turn in fine performances of men driven to their wit's end serving a king who bungles into a war with Prussia that he loses and at the same time bankrupts his country both in creating grand palaces as his ancestors lived and in bankrolling the genius of Wagner.

Richard Wagner's ideas of German superiority of raving anti-Semitism and of the unshakable belief in his own genius for good or ill reflected a lot of the bad in German culture. He was the Nazi's favorite composer and knowledge of that puts many off from his work today. Still his music does transcend the man and the one thing the mini-series Wagner has in abundance is his music. That and the multi-layered performance of Richard Burton is enough reason to watch Wagner even though it does bog down occasionally.


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Details

Country:

UK | Austria | Hungary

Language:

English

Release Date:

December 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Wagner - Das Leben und Werk Richard Wagners See more »

Filming Locations:

Lucerne, Switzerland See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(restored integral)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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