Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Romy Schneider, Silvana Mangano, Helmut Berger, Trevor Howard, John Moulder-Brown
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Luchino Visconti's Complete Four Hour Masterpiece Digitally Restored and Re-Mastered! Director Luchino Visconti (The Leopard, Death in Venice) brings his famed majestic style to this lavish and operatic portrait of Ludwig ... more »
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This is the complete theatrical cut, it's NOT a cut version,
Unclehulot | 10/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The two comments about this being a cut version are misleading. This is the complete theatrical version as released at 238 minutes. There WERE various cut versions that the producers released without the director's approval, but this is not one of them. It's the version Visconti sanctioned to be released at the time. To speak of the only version worthy of release as being a 6 hour version is certainly a bit extreme. Would you refer to the approved theatrical release of Bergman's Fanny and Alexander as cut?"
Visconti's lesser known major opus
M. Jay Sullivan | Cambridge, Ma | 10/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm so glad this film finally has been re-released in the American market.
The scope, cinematography, and character development is excellent. The gradual deterioration and dethronement of Ludwig is very well represented.
The question as to whether Ludwig is a genius or a madman- or a combination of both- is handled sensitively and intelligently. The portrayal of his enduring love of his cousin (Romy Schneider in one of her finest and most controversial roles) is excellent, as is the portrayal
of the wily genius, Richard Wagner, by Trevor Howard, Ludwig, played adroitly by Helmet Berger. is victimized by a lack of royal mentoring and the very common inbreeding that often afflicted European royalty. All in all, the historical representation is enlightening as exemplified by the backdrop of Bismark's consolidation of the disparate German kingdoms into modern Germany in 1870. I was ALSO impressed by the representations of Ludwig's castle without rooms, and his underground grotto with swan boots in a spring. The film gets pretty bizarre at times, and the ending in particularly puzzling and strangely justified.
I've seen this four times and each time I find something new and interesting. On the other hand, the film is long with subtitles which may turn off much of the American audience. I feel this movie is most like another Visconti masterpiece "The Leopard." which also depicts the
demise of the preeminence of European monarchies in the nineteenth century. Also the obsessive homoerotic element is reminiscent of Visconti's
adaptation of Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice. For someone who loves first rate European "art films;" Ludwig is a real boon!
Visual Elegy to the eccentric King
Alberto M. Barral | new york | 08/03/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film is great only for the visual details: It was shot on location so you actually get to see the interiors of the Ludwig castles: The bedroom at Linderhof, the throne room at Neuschwanstein, the hall of mirrors, which rivals Versailles' at Herrenchiemsee, and also the costumes are outstanding, particularly in the early part of the movie at Ludwigs's coronation wherre the trains, the tiara and the condecorations are all perfect, polished and in place. For this historical record alone, it is worth watching, and also because these castles were the lasting legacy of Ludwig to his people. The main flow of tourists to Bavaria for most of the 20th Century, and still today, is due to the existence of these magnificent creations. As much as the expenses were critiziced at the time, and used against him later in relation to his dethronement, it has paid off many times over as an investment in benefiting his people and I dare say in this respect he surpassed all of his ancestors.
In another cultural contribution he also remains unsurpassed, though he has never been acknowledged as fully as he deserves: He is largely responsible for the greatest music composed in Germany at the time, namely his patronage of Richard Wagner was an ESSENTIAL part of the development of music and he alone was able to see it, and to insure that it not only survived, but flourished, a very difficult enterprise since Wagner had a knack for creating controversy and conjuring animosity.
However here also the problems begin. There are a lot of important points in Ludwig's life that are not sufficiently clearly covered, which is not comprehensible in such a long film, for example we are never shown a performance of Wagner, as Ludwig had it done: With him completely alone in the theater and applauding from the Royal Box, which was not only historically correct, but would have highlighted both his eccentric personality and his strong determination for artistic patronage. Instead we see a theatrical performance, that looks like a rehersal and no Ludwig watching in the Royal Box. There is no scene that takes place in the Turkish Pavilion at Linderhof, which was one of Ludwig's favorite and most successful artistic creations. He often dressed in full Royal regalia for events at the Pavilion. There is also a very sketchy coverage of his affairs with men. The whole thing is 'suggested' more than it is stated. I found that for four hours of film footage and the fact that it was made in 1972, it should have have been more specific and detailed on this issue, which was after all, a major component of the king's life. More importantly, it should have been shown as a separate issue from his mental instability, which was obviously a hereditary problem, most particlularly because the two have been thrown together to maliciosuly denigrate the character of the king as 'decadent' , first by the clique that had a vested interested in deposing him, and ever since by the politics of repression and distorrtion that were applied to the historical record till the advancement of gay liberation in the last century was able to inform and clarify these readings . Helmut Berger is absolutely riveting in his performance as Ludwig, his characterization is profound and convincing in every frame. Romy Schiender is wonderful as Ludwig's cousin, The Empress Elizabeth of Austria, with whom Ludwig was infatuated in the unique fashion that homosexual men have always idiolized, praised and showered adoration and devotion unto divas and fabulous women who act like they are, through the centuries, and NOT in love with her as has been written in the past to purposely disguise and misconstrue the king's homosexuality. Trevor Howard is great as the manipulative, astute, and roguish Richard Wagner. Silvana Mangano was aptly decorative and restrained in her role as Cosima von Buelow, Wagner's mistress at the time.
The only problem with the film, and it is a problem, is the length. Probably under the influence of Wagner, who was a great composer but lacked all sense of theatrical timing, Visconti has over extended the scenes to an unecessary degree that inevitably stimulate boredom and frustration in the viewer. I can not believe that some reviewers consider this extremely long 4 hours to be 'shortened' and if there is indeed a longer version, it should only come out with a warning in RED in the packaging."
Visconti's magnificent epic, as good as The Leopard, lovingl
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 12/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hooray! Koch Lorber has decided to restore this magnificent, terribly underrated and misunderstood masterpiece by Luchino Visconti, one of my favorite Italian filmmakers. This is the full length, four hour version. When it was released here in the states initially, it was cut almost in half to two measly hours, which destroyed Visconti's stately pace and vision. Even the VHS copy (which ran about 10 minutes shorter than this copy) was in the wrong aspect ratio (it was 1.85:1), and it cropped Visconti's excellent framing. This DVD is in the proper ratio (2.35:1), it's at the proper length (there is no six hour version as some have said on this thread), and the transfer looks magnificent.
This is a sad, poetic, elegaic film that has scenes which are often startling in their poetry and beauty. Despite Ludwig's sheltered and indulgent life, he is vastly unhappy, indulging in fantasies and building extraordinary castles (many of which still remain in Bavaria). Visconti portrays him with sympathy and empathy, and has made one of his greatest films. Helmut Berger is excellent as Ludwig (Visconti had great taste in actors as well as lovers), Romy Schiender is wonderful as Ludwig's cousin (whom Ludwig loves), and Trevor Howard is great as Richard Wagner. It has some of the most exquisite, painterly cinemtography in any Visconti films. You really owe it to yourself to see this great film, whose reputation should soar after people see this DVD.
The DVD has a few documentaries, including one called Luchino Visconti: Life as in a Romance. It's a rehash of a documentary that appeared on its own DVD called Luchino Visconti: A Portrait. It's a poorly made, very short documentary, and doesn't even get close to the brilliance of Visconti or any of his works. It's an extraordinarily superficial work. The other documentaries are slighly more interesting, though I've seen better special features on DVD. Regardless of the disappointing special features, the film Ludwig is worth watching and owning. It's one of Visconti's most extraordinary films, arguably his last masterpiece."