The first film in Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s “German Trilogy” (followed by Karl May and Our Hitler ) is a low budget, but nonetheless imaginative interpretation of the life of Ludwig II of Bavaria. Harry Baer portrays the so-called “mad king,” who was the patron of Richard Wagner, the man who sold Bavaria to Prussia, and the builder of many a mythic castle in the Rhineland. Modernist to the core, Ludwig is both theater and film–a montage of sketches and tableaux with cabaret music, wild costumes, and even wilder characters. –Facets.org
For Syberberg, cinema is a form of Gesamtkunstwerk. Many commentators, including Syberberg himself, have characterized his work as a cinematic combination of Bertolt Brecht’s doctrine of epic theatre and Richard Wagner’s operatic aesthetics. Well known philosophers and intellectuals have written about his work, including Susan Sontag, Gilles Deleuze and Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe.
In 1975 Syberberg released Winifried Wagner und die Geschichte des Hauses Wahnfried von 1914-1975 (English title: The Confessions of Winifred Wagner), a documentary about Winifred Wagner, an Englishwoman who had married Richard Wagner’s son Siegfried. The documentary attracted attention because it exposed Mrs Wagner’s unrepentant admiration for Adolf Hitler. The film thus proved an embarrassment to the Wagner family and the Bayreuth Festival (which she had run from 1930 until the end of the Second World War). Winifred Wagner objected to the inclusion in the film of conversations she did not know were… read more