Ludwig. 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. From Luchino Visconti, the director of “The Damned” and “Death in Venice”. Once again your eyes will be opened.
As Martin Scorsese notes in My Voyage to Italy, no 20th Century film-maker can lay claim to the unique disposition of Count Don Luchino Visconti di Modrone, the final heir to one of Europe’s oldest aristocratic families. For much of his youth, Visconti exulted in the privileges of his lifestyle. His house was a frequent retreat for the likes of Arturo Toscanini, Gabrielle d’Annunzio and Giacomo Puccini. His lifelong engagement in theatre and opera was imbibed from an early age along with brief passions such as raising horses and maintaining stables. It wasn’t long before Visconti began questioning the limitations of his lifestyle. Inspired by his intellectual yearnings, Visconti wandered away from his comfortable shelter and visited Paris. This would be a turning point in his life. Through his friendship with Coco Chanel, Visconti met French director Jean Renoir. He served as assistant director on some of Renoir’s best films from the 30s, including Toni, Partie de campagne and The Lower… read more
Captivating and opulent biopic of King Ludwig II, the mad king of Bavaria, with an incredible central performance from Helmut Berger who brings a subtlety, grace and bitter paranoia to the role deserving of wider recognition. The real star, however, is Visconti who composes each scene and shot with an attention to detail and effortless beauty which is truly sublime. Some of the shots are as breathtaking as classical paintings. His talent for putting the camera in the perfect place or framing a shot to wring as much emotion as possible from the scenery and actors is second to none. My only criticism is that the very narrow focus of the piece leads to a lack of historical context. As a result outside events and peripheral characters come and go without the viewer fully understanding their implications for Ludwig's position and increasingly fragile grip on reality.
At some point during his homoerotic forays, I thought to myself: "This reminds me of Michael Jackson . . . " Kidding aside, this film is absolutely amazing. A true work of art. The opulent mise-en-scene, Helmut Berger's acting, the various psychological analyses of his deteriorating condition, eugh! Everything was great.