Castle of a Madman . . . or a Genius
It started off as a thirty-second tangential comment in a movie I no longer recall: some character gave a two sentence synopsis about a crazy king who enabled Wagner’s operas and built one or more of the most famous castles in the world. I looked him up and was instantly obsessed: Ludwig II of
was at once a beloved, triumphant, trailblazing patron of the arts and a man doomed to suffer from the machinations of those around him and the demons of his own mind. Bavaria
Imagine a sheltered, sensitive, parentally ignored boy suddenly crowned king at eighteen. He was instantly freed to allow his passion for music and architecture to take prominence in his kingdom; but he was equally shackled to the confounding politics and business of the government. So, too, his love of pomp and pageantry was at odds with his reclusive nature, his flamboyant romanticism battled his intellectual stoicism, and his only hope for true love made him damned in the eyes of his church. Needless to say, he was a cauldron of emotion that boiled every waking moment. I couldn’t wait to tell his tale.
Thus, the year was spent getting my mitts (and eyes) on any book, website, or footage that talked about the supposed mad king, taking reams of notes and then, slowly, devising a script that would bring all the disparate aspects of his life to the screen; his story was like Amadeus meets Restoration with a little of The King’s Speech and Fellini Satyricon to boot. Ludwig suffered wars, traitors, physical and psychological torments and yet almost single-handedly managed to support Wagner through most of his operas, build castles that remain jaw-dropping monuments to this day, and create a treasure trove of wonders such as a secret underground grotto with colored electric lights and a man-made lake inside.
I became reclusive, passionate and perhaps a little mad myself as I spent the next year and a half turning the facts and conjectures of Ludwig's often secretive life into a sometimes humorous, sometimes haunting story of passion and pain, vindication and vilification....and the manifold forms of madness that strike in the hearts of humanity. When I felt it was ready, I sent the script out to several screenplay competitions to see what others thought of my labor of love. Had I been a nail-biter, no doubt I would have gnawed my way to my knuckles. I was thrilled (and relieved) to have “Reign of Madness” garner several nods and good criticism and I set to work rewriting it, based in part on the feedback. I sent it out again and it has now received high praise from such esteemed competitions as the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowships, BlueCat and Scriptapalooza.
So what's next? Seems clear: all it needs now is someone to bring it to life on the screen. Someone rebellious, passionate…
…and perhaps a little crazy.
Ludwig's shell-shaped boat on the lake in his grotto.