Ludwig is a 1972 film directed by Italian director Luchino Visconti about the life and death of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Visconti's muse, Helmut Berger, stars as Ludwig, while Romy Schneider reprises her role as Empress Elisabeth of Austria in a very different portrayal compared to her role in the 1950s Sissi trilogy.
Ludwig is a very languidly paced film, but with an impressive sense of tragic crescendo. The fully restored version, running over four hours, builds sympathy in the viewer for Ludwig's decadent, yet ultimately firmly constricted life. Visconti’s meticulous realism gives a bright picture of court life in the nineteenth-century Bavaria and shows with impressive dramatic pathos how a dreamy romantic idealist as Ludwig succumbs to the strenuous and urgent demands of his responsibilities as king. The political sphere of counselors, clergymen, princes and kings, as well as the intricate and often tense relations between the members of the royal family are treated in the film with an acute and refined sensibility to aristocratic decorum and way of living. However, in the 19th century the Bavarian king lacked real political power, causing Ludwig to indulge in his Wagnerian fantasies while more or less ignoring the political reality at the time.