Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese > 16:30


Helmut Käutner
Introduced by

Miguel Marías


Wednesday 28/06/2017


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria is a subject German cinema came back to again and again – a Ludwig for each period. The earliest feature-length take on the Märchenkönig (Fairy Tale King) was Rolf Raffé’s stately Das Schweigen am Starnbergersee (1920), followed by Wilhelm Dieterle’s heavily censored Ludwig der Zweite, König von Bayern (Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, 1929). The Nazis preferred to skirt a subject as loaded as this… Käutner’s Ludwig II. – Glanz und Ende eines Königs, then, might be the most challenging and complex while artistically achieved version of the story to date. For while Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s Ludwig – Requiem für einen jungfräulichen König (Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King, 1972) and Fosco & Donatello Dubini’s Ludwig 1881 (1993) did try to push the formal envelop in high movie modernist fashion, they had nothing to add to the subject itself. Indeed, if we look closely at Ludwig II. – Glanz und Ende eines Königs we will see that even some of the aesthetic solutions Syberberg’s film was celebrated for can be found here already: towards the end, when the king gets ever more delirious/paranoid, Käutner also works with rear projections and similar techniques with comparably alienating effects…; one might even go so far as to say that Syberberg merely made explicit what’s delivered by Käutner in a more implicit fashion, chiefly Ludwig’s (alleged?) homosexuality, which here is but hinted at through his intense relation with his heir presumptive Otto, but also the violently contradictory nature of Germany which again and again gave birth to various kinds of extremism. For Käutner, Ludwig II. – Glanz und Ende eines Königs was a much-needed triumph on all fronts: fêted in Cannes, it also became a major commercial success at home. Coda: Otto Wilhelm Fischer’s excellent debut as a director, Hanussen (1955; co-director: Georg Marischka), can be seen as a noirish variation on this masterpiece.

Olaf Möller

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Kadidja Wedekind. F.: Douglas Slocombe. M.: Anneliese Schönnenbeck. Scgf.: Fritz Lück. Int.: O.W. Fischer (re Ludovico II di Baviera), Ruth Leuwerik (imperatrice Elisabetta d’Austria), Marianne Koch (principessa Sophie), Paul Bildt (Richard Wagner), Friedrich Domin (Otto von Bismarck), Rolf Kutschera (Graf Holnstein), Herbert Hübner (von Pfistermeister), Robert Meyn (dott. Gudden). Prod.: Conrad von Molo, Wolfgang Reinhardt per Aura-Film Produktion. 35mm. D.: 114’. Col.