Ludwig: Requiem for a Virgin King
Director: Hans-Jürgen Syberberg
Year Released: 1972
It's a shame that Syberberg's work isn't better known in the States - his deliberate pacing and avant-garde style won't work with an audience that demands quick running times and simple explanations. Released the same year as Visconti's Ludwig film, it examines the life of the mad Bavarian king, known for his extravagant spending and wild eccentricities. While Visconti's approach turns into a lavish, whacked-out soap opera (laced with melodrama), this is more restrained in decor, using but a single stage, rear projection and countless prop trinkets to create its unique appearance. It is at once flamboyant - there are motorcycles, sounds from the Lone Ranger, nude women holding candles, children wearing fake mustaches (and so on) - and yet totally restrained. I can't say I understood everything that was going on, but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't completely entranced.