Visconti's 1972 film is a lavish and operatic portrait of Ludwig II the `Mad King' of Bavaria. From his glittering coronation to his mysterious suicide Ludwig II (1845-86) epitomised the doomed nineteenth-century Romantic hero. A loner by nature he was tormented by his unrequited love for his cousin Empress Elisabeth of Austria who sensed his true sexual nature and fragile grip on reality. But as war raged around him Ludwig's sole obsession remained the visionary music of Ric
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