Sunday, Oct. 6, Downer Theatre hosted the final screening of Marie Noelle and Peter Sehr's "Ludwig II". This film is part of the Passport: Germany program through the 2013 Milwaukee Film Festival and tells the story of Bavarian King Ludwig II. This new German film began at noon and ran until 2:20 p.m.
"Ludwig II" is a historical epic about King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who inherits the throne after his father's untimely death and must face a world of opposition as he aims to infuse the nation with the arts. His eccentric fashion sense, obsessive enthusiasm for the arts, and idolization of Wagner cost him much opposition as the Franco-Prussian War presses upon him while his art and music act as his main line of defense.
Bavaria will become the center of art and culture.
"Ludwig II" is almost a two and a half hour film about a king who reigned from 1864-1886 with the intention of introducing his country to art and music, particularly through Wagner's work. And though this is one of the longest films in the festival, it doesn't feel over an hour and a half long. The film moves so quickly and focuses on such a unique character in Ludwig that time is the last thing on the viewer's mind.
However, while Ludwig's character is certainly unique, Sabin Tambrea's portrayal can feel a bit overdone and exaggerated at times in order to emphasize his enthusiasm or draw attention to his unusual personality. Ludwig desperately clings to the idea of a world made peaceful by the arts, and as such he obsesses over art and music without any concern for political crises or battle threats. He is shown as wildly unrealistic and negatively affected by his father's criticisms, but sympathy can turn to humor at times when Ludwig creates a more eccentric display of his disdain for warfare and love for the arts. This being said, the character of Ludwig II is an eccentric one and in order to grasp the full effect of his ideals and where they led, it's understandable that the portrayal be a bit exaggerated.
People will understand that art is more important than daily bread.
Even if historical epics aren't your cup of tea, the scenery in "Ludwig II" is reason enough to see it. The film is visually stunning, with breath-taking panoramas of landscapes and richly-colored, elaborate theaters. There aren't enough good things to say about the sets and scenery in the film, as they frequently took the audience's breath away during the Milwaukee Film Festival. These stunning visuals function not only as a way to create a beautiful film, but also to align the viewer with Ludwig in his infatuation with nature, music, theater, and art.