Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
Ludwig is a nice tour of castles, but a lavish bore of a movie
Cleveland Press December 20, 1973
"Ludwig" is playing at the Severance Theater. Biography; adults, older teens. In the cast are Helmut Berger, Trevor Howard, Romy Schneider, Silvana Mangano. Running time: 136 minutes.
"Ludwig" is one big lavish yawn.
There may be possibilities in a film biography about the mad king of Bavaria but they are unrealized in this ponderous, slow-moving work from Italian director Luchino Visconti whose recent works include "Death in Venice" and "The Damned."
Ludwig II of Bavaria is played by Helmut Berger whose range of expressions is limited to petulance.
He is pictured wandering around the various castles associated with him-those he built and those he inherited. The architectural curiosities are all that remain of his reign, there being no heirs since he preferred boys to girls. The castles have become a mainstay of Bavarian tourism and their exteriors have appeared in other movies.
So if it's a tour of castles you want then Ludwig may be for you. The soundtrack is filled with the music of Wagner (who was subsidized by Ludwig), Schumann and Offenbach.
Nothing much happens during most of the movie. People greet one another in handsomely appointed rooms. They get in and out of carriages. The engage in royal small talk.
Ludwig has a lot of handsome male servants running around and there is a scene with his deranged brother. There is a final orgy reminiscent of "The Damned" but minus the blood.
Romy Schneider is decorative as his cousin,the Empress of Austria.
Trevor Howard who is on for 10 or 15 minutes playing Wagner, steals the picture. It's as though he realized there was no real competition for acting honors and decided to make off with the whole prize.
Aside from dullness and length, what you have to put up with mostly is such dialog as "We've all known Ludwig is a little eccentric," a comment by an observer as Ludwig comes into sight in a boat that seems to be in a cave or a castle basement. He is casting food to the swans, while a barge filled with musicians serenade him.
The movie could have been worse. The original running time was close three hours.