• Visconti’s four-hour (238 minutes) opus Ludwig is the final film in his German trilogy (which includes The Damned from 1969 and Death in Venice from 1971)
  • Visconti suffered from a stroke (aged 67 at the time) while filming and would die in 1976
  • Shot in glorious 35mm, Ludwig has lush set and costume design, and a narrative that follows the inevitable decline of a monarchy—indeed– his is the work of the man behind The Leopard
  • The costumes were acknowledged by the Academy with a nomination. Whether it is the military or clergy— these uniforms are clearly a passion of Visconti’s.
  • Total decadence, supreme wallpaper, immaculate furnishings
  • Visconti brings back the circle bulb lanterns here in abundance from The Leopard and Senso He has colored bulbs when Ludwig (Helmut Berger, back with Visconti after The Damned) first meets Elisabeth (Romy Schneider)—sort of like a mini-Lola Montes scene at the circus
  • The film has flaws—the running time actually isn’t a problem—it is engaging throughout and I could’ve signed up for another hour or two actually. But, Visconti makes the choice to have various characters (who surrounded Ludwig in life) due this interview style, blue backdrop narration. Awful—so flat.
  • Trevor Howard is here as Wagner—who also lives basically a palace with these ridiculously gorgeous, curated interiors. I like Howard here- he gives some stature to the role.
  • The zoom technique still a tool used in abundance- but not as much as Death in Venice. At the 34-minute mark there is a nice reverse zoom when Ludwig kisses Elisabeth—Visconti’s camera floats down the creek.

this is almost an exact duplicate of the foreground/background brilliance with the frescos in Senso in 1954 with Alida Valli

  • It isn’t the triumph The Leopard is, but Visconti still displays character blocking to create some exceptional compositions. There is one at the 96-minute mark when they make the announcement of Ludwig’s engagement. A stunner occurs at the 127-minute mark, no less than twelve (12) characters staggered at different depths of field. This could be a shot from The Leopard, The Damned, or even La Terra Trema…cinematic paintings.
  • Ludwig’s decline is captivating— his decaying black teeth. This character study has the density of a novel. He’s crazy—any actor would love to sink their teeth into this part and Berger is damn good. Ludwig is a recluse, refusing to see people while he’s going mad- some scenes that feel like Scorsese’s The Aviator. Ludwig both loves his female cousin, and is haunted by his homosexuality.
  • A praise-worthy frame with the priest alone at the 131-minute mark—almost swallowed up by the red velvet furniture and crimson wallpaper.

A stunning amount of decadence—when Elisabeth comes to see him at the 190-minute mark and she tours his castle- a, dazzling, silent few minutes.

  • The orgy scene at the 180-minute mark makes for a clear pairing with The Damned. One of the best cinematic paintings in the film with the bodies staggered around, wiped out after a night of drinking, singing.
  • There is no weak link in the German trilogy from Visconti
  • A Highly Recommend / Must-See border film