What better way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest composers of all time than with a silent film? Released in 1913 in order to coincide with his 100th birthday, this film, directed by Carl Frohlich, is considered one of the, if not the first ever bio-pics. Originally released with the simple title Richard Wagner, it runs roughly an hour and twenty minutes which was, perhaps appropriately considering the epic length of some of his compositions, an astounding run time for that period.
I’ve posted the entire film below. This version has English title cards and intertitles, and no soundtrack at all. Interestingly, when the movie was first released, it did have a score which was not made up of Wagner’s own music, which would have been too expensive to use at the time, but instead was composed by Guiseppe Becce, who also plays Wagner in the movie.
Say what you will about the man himself, this is certainly an incredible look not only at his life, but into the history of film, too.
- Germany celebrates composer Wagner’s 200th (sacbee.com)
- Celebrating Richard Wagner’s 200th Birthday (wqxr.org)
- A Closer Look at Richard Wagner’s Manuscripts (publicdomainreview.org)