- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Yeah. I noticed a little mistake here. In the first bullet point inside the brackets it says Death in Venice from 1973. But actually it was released in 1971. So I haven’t checked some of the recent reviews but I will be glad to notify if there are any errors when I see them.
@Malith- excellent- good one- thank you.
Going to see this on big screen tomorrow, very excited for it.
By the way, when are you updating the pages of Pasolini and Visconti? I see that you have had studies for both recently, and rated their movies that are not rated or not even at their pages (Teorema and Accatone are not in Pasolini page and you have rated those movies highly in the own pages of those movies and you haven’t rated Canterbury Tales in his page for example, and for Visconti you have rated The Damned and Death in Venice in their own pages and made a page for White Nights which is not in Visconti page for example).
Also, have you seen Sandra and The Stranger from Visconti? I’m currently having a study on Visconti (so far I have seen The Leopard, The Damned, Rocco and His Brothers and Death in Venice, and after watching Ludwig i’m going to see Ossessione, La Terra Trema, Senso, Sandra, White Nights, The Stranger and Conversation Piece, and on september The Innocent on big screen, will be writing my thoughts in Visconti page when I’ve completed the study) and both of those are on my watchlist for the study, would love to hear your thoughts about them if you have seen them.
And about Pasolini, have you seen the film Porcile (1969) directed by him? I’m actually going to study Pasolini after I’ve completed my study on Visconti and Porcile is on my watchlist among other Pasolini movies for the study. If you have seen it, I would like to hear your thoughts about it.
Sorry for possible bad english and messy text.
He’ll only update them when he does the directors’ pages over again, which won’t happen for a while.
@RK- That’s great- good for you seeing this on the big screen. And I don’t update the director’s pages as I go through– so it’ll be quite some time before I get to update Visconti and Pasolini’s pages. Sorry. I have not seen Sandra and The Stranger. I could not locate them. Same for Porcile, I had some bad standard definition version of it and decided not to taint my view of it with that so I’ll wait.
Ok, but if you had to where would you rank Visconti and Pasolini after your recent studies? Visconti somewhere 40-35 at lowest and 25-20 at highest? Pasolini top 100 maybe?
Back to Ludwig, it was great seeing it on big screen. You should have put pictures or/and mentioned those Stalactite cave sequences. Wow. Those blew my mind. Stunning visual brilliance and camerawork.
I have to agree that the interview style did not suit this film. I was actually pretty annoyed by those interviews. A fatal flaw that took away some plausibility from the film, since the movie was set on the 19th century and video cameras were not even invented then, and this film is not a fantasy/scifi film. The film also dragged a bit at places in my opinion.
I’ll give this a HR after the first viewing, could see it rising to HR/MS level on rewatches.
Going to see Conversation Piece on big screen tomorrow if I happen to have time for it.
@RK- Sorry, I haven’t given much thought to how far Visconti or Pasolini will climb yet.