Director Luchino Visconti brings all of his famed majestic style to bear on this lavish and operative portrait of Ludwig II, the nineteenth-century 'mad king' of Bavaria, whose obsession with Wagner's music inspired him to build fairytale castles and finally lose his already-fragile grip on his sanity. Helmut Berger Trevor Howard, Romy Schneider and Silvena Mangano star in this late masterpiece from the most aristocratic and enigmatic of Italy's great film-makers.
Of epic length at nearly 4 hours, this film feels that it needs a good edit to get an hour at least off the running time. Taking its lead from one of main characters - Wagner - it fails to sustain the viewers interest throughout. Which is a shame because it is an interesting historical story with a good performances from a number of actors - Helmut Berger has to carry the film. But it is obvious that the actors are all speaking different languages which have then been dubbed into Italian. Visconti also skirts round the sexual confusion which afflicts Ludwig.