“LUDWIG II”— The Mad King of Bavaria

ludwig poster“LUDWIG II”

The Mad King of Bavaria

Amos Lassen

Sabin Tambrea is Ludwig, the mad Bavarian king, the flamboyant monarch who spent fortunes on art at the expense of the military. He was a repressed homosexual and his repression was debilitating to him. When he reached middle-age, he was obsessed with rococo castles and he was quite insane.

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When King Maximilian II died, Crown Prince Ludwig, just 18, was proclaimed King of Bavaria. He soon made his kingdom into a center of beauty where the arts ruled aside him. He was misunderstood by his advisors and he surrounded himself with commoners, seeking friendship where love should blossom. Meanwhile, Richard Wagner skillfully manipulated Ludwig who had a passion for his grandiose operas. After losing a war, Ludwig retreated into his dream world, ransacking the royal coffers to build the palaces of his visions. When the sun began to set on Ludwig’s life, but his legend had already found its way into many memories. Ludwig II was one of the most fascinating monarchs of all time. This film is an epic of grandeur that is beautiful to watch but sad in its excess.

Incidentally, this is the fifth film about the mad king so there really is not anything new to see here that we have not already seen. Visually this film is gorgeous and for that alone it is worth seeing. It also does show something about Ludwig that we have not seen before. We see him as a man who just could not fit in anywhere.

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He was very shy, nervous, sensitive and in every way not prepared to be the king. What Ludwig loved was in conflict with society’s values and what was expected of a monarch: He was expected to lead his country into war and to marry for the benefit of his dynasty and country – but he hated everything that had to do with military and was unable to love women. We witness the tragedy that evolved when he tried to force himself to do both – he was only partially successful, and had to sacrifice his inner well-being to do so.

Seeing him from this perspective, we see something about the society we live in today. Today society finally seems to accept, and sometimes even endorse, that being different can be a good thing. In the 19th century, being different meant insanity. There was no room for someone like Ludwig, especially not in the position of king.

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One thought on ““LUDWIG II”— The Mad King of Bavaria

  1. Gisela

    How fascinating. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am going to have to check this one out. Of course I am a fan of Helmut Berger’s portrayal and I guess as Austrian one is almost required to love Romy Schneider’s performance in Visconti’s ‘Ludwig” but this movie looks just fabulous. Ludwig left an amazing legacy.

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