Sunday, April 23, 2017

Watched - Ludwig II

Ludwig II
2hrs 23 min

'A dramatic retelling of the life of Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, one of the most fascinating monarchs of modern times. From his accession to the throne at the age of 18 to his passionate support of Richard Wagner and his music. From his ingenuous political commitment to his obsessive construction of extravagant palaces and to his gradual withdrawal into a lonely dream world, an epic narrative of breathtaking grandeur.'

I'd been wanting to see this for some time now but it was not becoming available anywhere and I noticed it's only German, no English subtitles.  Well leave it to my Ludwig enabler Kevin to hook me up with a version of the movie on YouTube that someone had taken the time to do English subtitles for.  Woohoo!  At 2hrs and 23min long, and factoring in my less than stellar internet, I managed to watch the movie in two chunks, two evenings.

I'll say right off the bat, I did not like this movie.  I will also admit there are a few things I did like, but overall, nah.  This version of the Ludwig II story starts before his coronation, and I did like that.  You get to see some of the relationship between Ludwig and his father.  You see what kind of a boy he is, having fun and loving art and opera and using his imagination.  You see he was already building things, in these early cases it was more crafty type things like scenes from favorite stories.  You see the differences between Ludwig and his brother, who was very much into guns and weaponry and the honor of fighting to save Bavaria.

I also liked that this movie worked in a lot more little things like the head way up, quirky kind of walk of arrogance he adopted, and some of his obnoxious demands like never coming within three steps of him, or servants keeping their eyes down when he was in the room.  I liked that it showed his angry outbursts, how he could suddenly fly off the handle.  Loved the part where he stormed into the room and signed the war paper they'd all been hounding him with, then threw down the pen and stormed back out.  I liked that they showed some of his public appearances and speeches, things he absolutely hated.

But those things were not enough to save this movie for me.

First of all, I hated how the actor playing Ludwig in the younger and middle years looked.  Not only did he look totally girlie, but they made him look like a 1920s flapper girl tart.  Ludwig had goofy curled hair, yes, but it wasn't all to one side of his face like this movie made it look.  The actor's mannerisms were so . . . effeminate?  Is that the word I'm looking for?  He looked super tall and super skinny.  From what I've read, Ludwig was indeed tall but of athletic build in those younger years.  Ugh, the *look* just didn't work for me.
I also didn't like that they pretty much made him a loon right from the start.  Maybe he was??  I don't know for sure but I've gotten the impression from things I've read that the weirdness didn't start coming out until later.  He'd been odd, and uninterested in affairs of state but at least it seems like he was still at least somewhat normal early on.  This movie makes him plain ol' weird and wacky from the get-go and that made hard to feel anything for him, especially later when things really started going downhill for him.

I did not like how the relationship with Sophie was portrayed either.  Although he was indeed engaged to Sophie at one point, he had a much stronger and long lasting relationship with her sister, Elisabeth.  Yet, they seemed to combine the two and make Sophie a much stronger character in his life.

I didn't like how they handled Richard Wagner in this.  They made him too nice.  While they did show some things about the Bavarian public disliking him, they didn't really show what a greedy and manipulative dick he was, totally using Ludwig's admiration and position for his own personal gains.

And I absolutely hated how they handled Ludwig's own government ousting him!
While the actor who played Ludwig in his later years had a slightly better look for the role, I did not like how he played it, and hated how they portrayed those dramatic final days.  It was so rushed that at first I didn't even realize we were at that part of the story already.  They also had Ludwig extremely crazy and fighting them every step of the way.  All accounts I have read say he offered no resistance and appeared quite sane and cooperative.  That's *why* they let him go out for that fateful final walk.  But no, in this he is just crazy.  What a total disappointment.

So while I am glad to have been able to finally see this, I'm bummed that it was such a letdown.


  1. Ugh, sorry you didn't enjoy this version. At least it wasn't as long as the other one! The actor looks like Ralph Finnes on the cover.

    1. I have zero interest in watching this one again but I keep going back to watch the other one. I've watched the 1973 one four times now, with a bunch of scene jumping watching too.

      This one was just so...bleah. By making him so femmy and loony right from the start it's hard to see his decline and feel for him.