Visconti and the German Dream

Romanticism, Wagner and the Nazi Catastrophe in Film

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About the Book

Luchino Visconti’s trilogy of films Ludwig, Death in Venice and The Damned explore the complex relationship between the themes and ideals of German Romanticism and their impact on the catastrophe of the Third Reich. The personality and works of Richard Wagner to a large extent epitomize German Romanticism as a whole, while the writings of Thomas Mann and Friedrich Nietzsche provide the greatest critique of this dark and troubled but sublime and emotionally overwhelming culture. Along with contrasting approaches to this subject by other filmmakers such as Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, Ken Russell and Tony Palmer, this book explores how the preoccupations of the German Romantic movement led to Nazism, and contrasts the ways in which filmmakers have presented this continuum. The book also discusses the impact of Wagner’s musical dramas on the art form of the cinema itself.

About the Author(s)

David Huckvale has worked as a researcher, writer and presenter for BBC Radio and as a lecturer for various universities in England. He lives in rural Bedfordshire.

Bibliographic Details

David Huckvale
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7030-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9275-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Introduction—Visconti 3

One—Wagner in Italy 11

Two—Ludwig, Wagner and Hitler 27

  First Intermission—The Birth of Hitler from the Spirit of Virtuosity 53

Three—Mann’s “Death in Venice” 66

  Second Intermission—Pan, Paganism and Arcadia 82

Four—Visconti’s Death in Venice 99

Five—Götterdämmerung 110

  Third Intermission—The Cinema of the Future 125

Six—The Damned 144

Seven—Alternative Visions 157

Epilogue—The Film Music of the Future 183

Select Filmography 199

Chapter Notes 200

Bibliography 213

Index 217