Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Watched - Ludwig

Ludwig
1973
3 hours 55 minutes

'He loved women.  He loved men.  He lived as controversially as he ruled.  But he did not care what the world thought.  He was the world.'

As you know, I'm becoming a bit of a King Ludwig II freak.  I have indeed been to his most famous castle, Neuschwanstein, in Germany but at the time I was there I knew nothing about Ludwig.  I did become interested after that visit but it wasn't until last year that I really got hooked on his whole story.  (Read my nattering thoughts HERE.)  My sister has gotten me three books, and now Kevin has sent me this movie.  I love my enablers!

Well I finally got a chance to watch this beast of a movie today and, well, I need more.  I want to watch this again already!  I say it's a beast because not only is it nearly four hours long but it is Italian AND it's from 1973.  There were a lot of obstacles to overcome in trying to settle in and watch this.  I knew nothing about this movie, the director, or any of the cast as I went into it.  I was very quickly smitten with 'Ludwig,' actor Helmut Berger.  (He's old and fat now, and apparently crazy so I don't want to know him from anything else but Ludwig.  LOL)

The biggest problem I had with the movie is the switching back and forth from English to Italian.  I had it set on the English option, with an additional setting for English subtitles where Italian portions would be.  I wondered what that meant but didn't care too much.  I was happy to see that it was actual footage with them speaking English, not some cheesy voice-over.  But then it kept randomly switching back to Italian.  I mean like, in the middle of scenes, or lengthy chunks of time, and then suddenly would switch back to English.  That was a bit annoying and hard to follow.  I think when I watch it again it'll be easier to accept since I know what it's like now.  Oh, and the Italian parts *were* cheesy voice-overs, which I really don't understand because isn't it an Italian film?  Oh well.

I loved the first half of the film, going through Ludwig's earlier years as king.  I love how he was portrayed.  He appeared quite normal then, although some quirks were already there.  Loved his little hissy fits he had.  It showed how there was promise and potential for him in those early years, how he seemed to at least try to do what was expected of him.  This younger Ludwig showed a range of emotions too but it broke my heart when he found out Richard Wagner was a greedy, lying, manipulative bastard.  I said in my other post, after reading the books, that there can be no story of Ludwig without including the composer Wagner, and I also said I found him to be a complete dick.  He is a raging dick in this movie!  I freakin' hated him, which made it so much more heartbreaking that Ludwig was blinded by him.
Even at nearly four hours, there is so much of the story that was skipped or only briefly touched on.  The Wagner stuff was compressed and dealt with fairly early on.  You don't get the full effect of how awful he was.  The movie only showed a couple, minor outbursts by Ludwig about things.  I wish they'd had more of his raging "I AM THE KING!" arrogance.  The second half started to really speed through things, seeming to focus more on the secret investigations the officials around him were conducting as they prepared to have him deposed.  History says and shows that Ludwig 'let himself go' in his later years.  He got fat and had endless problems with his rotting teeth.  I cringed when the second half of the movie now had the actor with rotting teeth.  I'd been hoping they'd sort of quietly skip that little tidbit.  They also showed being all sloppy in his drinking, with it running down his chin.  Also not a picture I actually wanted to see even though I'd read about it.  I guess part of me just doesn't want to admit that he really did become something so . . . un-regal.  (Not even a word, I know.)

I loved that they filmed in many of the actual locations.  I was sooooo freakin' excited with all the Neuschwanstein scenes!  Like, the night the officials went to take Ludwig into custody, and it showed the horses and carriages coming up the curving road alongside the castle, I was silently screaming "I was there!!!!  That's where we walked!  I remember THAT area!"  Ah, so much fun to see.  But the film also seemed to just quickly skim over the stuff about him obsessing and building all those castles.  There was a part where his cousin Elisabeth was visiting all the castles, but it made it seem like she just spent a day riding around and popping in to see each one.  I'm not sure if it was suppose to show her thinking 'What the heck, crazy man,' or something more like 'Wow, good for you!'  But yeah, since the building of the castles was like THE thing that everyone knows about Ludwig, it seemed rushed in the film without much of that really being addressed.


I have mixed feelings about the ending.  I was really wondering which way they'd go with it, and was somewhat relieved that they didn't actually show what happened.  But then the very end, the very last line of the whole film was one of the anti-Ludwig officials quickly proclaiming it was suicide.  I was a bit disappointed in the scenes of them actually going to take Ludwig into custody.  It was sort of rushed again, and a lot of emotional things that could have been included just weren't.  They showed him as pretty much a raving madman by then but the accounts I've read portray him quite differently.  I was glad to see they brought him back to sane and sassy once they had him at Berg castle.
All through the movie I was trying to think of who the actor reminded me of.  About three hours into it I was like 'Aha!  Johnny Depp!'  But thinking about earlier in the movie, and looking at pics from the movie and pics/videos of the actor at that time, I don't think it's Johnny Depp I'm thinking of.  I can't figure it out!

Anyway, I'm absolutely thrilled to have finally watched this movie, and I am definitely going to watch it again.  And I really really REALLY wish someone would make a new movie about King Ludwig II's story.  For now, I leave you with this lovely little video I found on YouTube, showing the many faces and emotions of Ludwig in this particular movie.  (Sorry if it shows up too large.)


6 comments:

  1. Yay, so glad you enjoyed the movie! The random audio would have driven me nuts. What a cutie Helmut Berger is... you could cut glass on those cheekbones!!

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    1. I watched the first two hours of it again today. I'm so hooked! It's just so sad. There was so much hope for him in the beginning. I've also watched that little video above about eight thousand times, and have now just downloaded that song.

      ~Deb

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  2. Have you seen the board game, btw? I was looking at the schedule for a gaming con that's coming up nearby and it's one of the hosted games. Has good reviews:
    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/155426/castles-mad-king-ludwig

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    1. Oh my gosh! Kevin was *JUST* telling me about a boardgame! Seriously, I was reading his email when notification of your comment came in. Ok, I need to go look at this game now!

      ~Deb

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  3. How cool!! Four hours?! This sounds epic. I cannot even imagine how fun it was for you to recognize places you actually walked and looked at. I want to watch this now. Maybe I can find it somewhere. Kevin is so sweet to have sent you this. Does he enjoy Ludwig too???

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    1. He's enabling my Ludwig obsession so I'm dragging him into it. He's mentioned possibly getting this movie for himself. I'll turn him into a mad king fan yet!

      The only place in the movie that I was actually at was Neuschwanstein. I had no idea about any of his other castles back then when I was there. Since last summer though, I'd been looking at plenty of pics of those other castles so to see footage in this movie was neat. But oh my gosh, Neuschwanstein...my pics from when I was there are that much more precious to me now. I'm going to bore you all one day soon with a post of them.

      ~Deb

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