If you were looking for just one Blu-ray to watch this week, Ludwig might very well be that Blu-ray…because it will likely take you all week to watch. Not that that is a bad thing, in fact, if you want a period piece with a ton of detail, then this is definitely the show for you.
With a runtime nearing four hours, you are given two options as to how to watch Ludwig. Either in one giant helping, or split up into five parts (this second version has a slightly longer runtime). Personally I chose to split it up, since it’s nigh impossible for me to get four uninterrupted hours with a toddler in the house. No matter which way you choose, you will have to swap discs at some point, as each set (the Blu-rays and DVDs) have parts 1 and 2 separately. This movie is huge…
Ludwig is a biographical look on Ludwig II, the Mad King of Bavaria. More specifically, it delves more into his relationships, particularly with Richard Wagner (the famous German composer). A lot of time is spent on Ludwig’s sexual preferences and various love triangles that he gets himself into. In fact, this film sometimes feels more like a historical soap opera than it does a bio piece. Regardless, it is interesting, if not slow, which is where Ludwig sort of misses the mark for me personally.
The runtime is a big giveaway here, but Ludwig is painfully long. This is largely the case because of the pacing and time period. The subject matter is mostly dry, and there is a lot of very slow moving scenes. For history buffs, or anyone particularly interested in the king, this is great. But for the more mainstream viewers, it’s likely that you’ll be thankful for the breaks while watching this in it’s five-part form. However, there is enough to keep you coming back, just not something that will have you binging through all four hours.
Now that I’ve made a really poor case for this film, let me reel it back a bit here. The acting is perfectly solid and very believable. But the big sell here is the wardrobe and set design. Almost every scene is loaded with detail that must have been painstakingly put together. Outfits, furniture, scenery — all scream authentic, and are really cool to see in HD.
Speaking of the intricate scenery, the transfer that Arrow has put together here is fantastic. The darks are all deep and the colors are vibrant. There is a level of detail in the backgrounds that draw your eye that is impressive to say the least. This film looks great for it’s age.
Similarly, the audio has been given the attention to detail that we expect from Arrow. There are two tracks present, one in the original Italian, and, for the first time on home video, an English track. Both of these have dubbing (thanks to actors speaking different languages), and the English track has some minor issues where music doesn’t sync up correctly. They mention this specifically in the booklet, and explain that this occurs because the english track was in a slightly different scene order, and they didn’t want to remove the background music. I watched Ludwig almost entirely with the English track and noticed only minor differences. I did watch one episode with Italian audio and subtitles; both tracks are perfectly fine.
- Helmut Berger: The Mad King – an interview with Helmut Berger
- Luchino Visconti – a documentary on director Carlo Lizzani
- English Soundtrack Extracts
- Theatrical Trailer
- Producing Ludwig
- Speaking with Suso Cecchi d’Amico – screenwriter
- Silvana Mangano: The Scent of a Primrose
- Booklet with essays, pictures, and information on the transfer.
Anyone who owns or has even seen one of Arrow’s limited editions will know what to expect here. They are damn good at putting out a good looking slipbox, and their two sided sleeves in the clear cases are very attractive on the shelf. Ludwig is no exception. This box has a really good looking piece of art on it, and from the side you can see two clear cases and the pamphlet. Also included is a quarter sleeve that compliments the slipbox very well.
Ludwig is a very slow paced biographic piece that explores a King’s sexuality in detail. With a four hour runtime, you need to commit to this one, which I don’t think many people are up to. But if you appreciate historical pieces, this one has something to offer that you can’t really get elsewhere.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.