Blu-ray Review – Luchino Visconti’s Ludwig

Visconti’s Ludwig 

Director: Luchino Visconti

Screenplay: Luchino Visconti

Minutes: 232

Year: 1972

Score: 5.07

Release: Arrow Academy

This new restoration, from Arrow Academy, contains some of the most polished and beautiful photographed film I have, in recent memory, watched. I am afraid that is where I should leave this introduction.


Ludwig. He loved women. He loved men. He lived as controversially as he ruled. But he did not care what the world thought. He was the world.

Luchino Visconti has a very clear eye for detail and is able to craft masterfully designed and dressed films, and Ludwig is certainly one of them. I must, however, insist that just because a film is well put together it is not all roses. The acting. Oh my, the acting. I cannot always blame the actors; I know that many of them perform as requested. So either Visconti is a poor director, or he hired a bunch of doorknobs, I don’t know. The performances are bad.

It seems common for Italian films, from the 1960s and 70s, to have their dialog dubbed in post. So the Italian track is not synced well and the English track is so European that is was painful to listen. None of the performances offered me any reason to want to spend four hours in their beautiful world. The film undoubtedly has an audience; I am not it.

This is my first Arrow Academy edition and it is stacked. This line, from Arrow Films, has been alive in the U.K. for a few years and Ludwig is one of the first batch to receive a Region A release. It is clear they are going after Criterion with these editions. This will be an uphill battle but competition doesn’t hurt.

Special Features:

  • 4K restoration from the original film negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Two viewing options: the full-length theatrical cut or as five individual parts
  • Original Italian soundtrack with optional English subtitles
  • Original English soundtrack available on home video for the first time ever with optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Brand-new interview with actor Helmut Berger
  • Luchino Visconti, an hour-long documentary portrait of the director by Carlo Lizzani (Wake Up and Kill, Requiescant) containing interviews with Burt Lancaster, Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, Claudia Cardinale and others
  • Speaking with Suso Cecchi d’Amico, an interview with the screenwriter
  • Silvana Mangano: The Scent Of A Primrose, a half-hour portrait of the actress
  • Theatrical trailer
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing by Peter Cowie

Director: 7 – Cinematography: 10 –  Edit: 2 – Parity: 1 – Main performance: 3 – Else performance: 3 – Score: 7 – Sound: 6 – Story: 7 – Script: 2 – Effects: 6 – Design: 10 – Costumes: 10 – Keeps interest: 2 – Lasting: 0