|Ludwig--Requiem for a Virgin King|
Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (1972)
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....”
Additional screening at 9:30 p.m.
• Written and Directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg. ZDF Producer, Christoph Holch. Photographed by Dietrich Lohmann. Edited by Peter Przygodda. With Harry Baer, Peter Kern, Ingrid Caven, Peter Moland. (1972, 140 mins, 35mm, color, English titles, Print Courtesy of The Goethe Institute)