Ludwig - Requiem For a Virgin King

The first part of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's “German Trilogy,” which culminated in the 7-hour epic Our Hitler--A Film From Germany. Like Hitler, the film makes brilliant use of front-projection techniques to present a series of “chapters” from the inner life of a German leader whose philosophy and worldview embody a summation of Germanic culture and myth. Twenty-eight chapters from the life of Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845-1866) add up to what Syberberg calls “a summary of the Germany of the 19th century as experienced by the Germany of 1972.” Syberberg presents Ludwig as a sort of tortured witness of future times, with culture changing into barbarism, the Bismarckian state into totalitarianism, Wagner into the trivial music of the thirties.

“The film has two parts: The Curse and Once Upon A Time I Was (Italia Prize Contribution) with a prologue and epilogue. The story of the last Bavarian King with his euphoria, his anxieties, his dreams told in a style of an oratorio or a medieval passion. Present and past are combined in a film of Wagnerian scenes, music of the thirties, Bavarian legends, ‘Oktoberfest' waxworks, magic lantern, still life, surrealism, elements of silent films, guillotine, quotations from Goethe, Brecht, Valentin and Shakespeare. A musical by Offenbach... melodrama... requiem....”

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