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On the death of Helmut Berger: The acting king has resigned

2023-05-18T15:39:28.883Z

Highlights: Helmut Berger was one of the best, most versatile film actors the country had in the sixties and seventies. After his debut in "Witches of Today" (1967), the first milestone followed: "The Damned" ( 1969) He shot "The Garden of Finzi Contini" (1970) and three years later – again with Visconti in the director's chair – "Ludwig II", both masterpieces. The actor laid the skepticism of Kini, his feeling of being out of place and yet not getting along, also his later breakdown of office and ego.



A legend of European cinema: Helmut Berger (1944-2023). © Tobias Hase/dpa

He was "Ludwig II" and so much more than his scandals. Helmut Berger made cinema history. Now the Austrian actor has died at the age of 78.

Of course, now that Helmut Berger fell asleep peacefully at 18 a.m. in his hometown of Salzburg on Friday (May 2023, 4), it's easy to laugh at the freak, shake your head at the freakouts, scandals, dropouts. The eccentricity! The bankruptcies! The alcohol! The drugs! The sex! With women!! With men!!! With yourself (preferably in front of the camera)! The stealing – sometimes in front of a lens! It was no coincidence that "All Cameras on me. Now!" was one of his favorite stage directions. Even off the set. However, anyone who would like to reduce this existence, which has now ended eleven days before the age of 79, should – in Berger's diction – respond with a well-groomed "Fuck you!". A great artist died here.

Helmut Berger met Luchino Visconti in 1964

The Austrian's costume was his bad reputation. Behind it was one of the best, most versatile film actors the country had in the sixties and seventies. A human actor who did not enjoy any significant acting training and who nevertheless thrilled international audiences and critics. "It's strange that the best young Italian actor is an Austrian," director Paul Morrissey once praised.

The foundation stone for this bow was laid in Rome in 1964. The year in which Berger, who eked out a living as an extra, met filmmaker Luchino Visconti, who had brought Italian neorealism to life and was about to take European cinema to a new level. In Berger he found his leading actor – for his productions, for his life. After his debut in "Witches of Today" (1967), the first milestone followed: "The Damned" from 1969 was a massive history painting about the disintegration of a family that made a pact with the Nazis; the Krupp dynasty was Visconti's model for that of Essenbeck. It was not only for his satire of Marlene Dietrich's Lola from "The Blue Angel" that Berger was suddenly in the running for a Golden Globe.

Helmut Berger shot "Ludwig II" with Visconti.

He shot "The Garden of Finzi Contini" (1970) and three years later – again with Visconti in the director's chair – "Ludwig II", both masterpieces. Still photos from the film show the vertical forehead wrinkles with which Berger deprived his fairytale king of everything fairytale-like. It showed a man who is crushed between expectations and desires. The actor laid the skepticism of Kini, his feeling of being out of place and yet not getting along, also his later breakdown of office and ego from the beginning in his role design. All this makes this film timelessly good.

The death of Luchino Visconti threw Helmut Berger off track

Parallel to his cinema work, the actor, born Helmut Steinberger in Bad Ischl in 1944, worked as a model. He was the first man on the cover of Vogue, which promptly proclaimed him the "most beautiful man in the world" – no one could, no one wanted to disagree.

But then came the year 1976 and the death of his lifemate after twelve intensive years together. Berger gave himself the title "Visconti's widow" – and only the insensitive will not recognize the pain that lies in it. Berger's existence came apart at the seams, his grief almost drove him to suicide. His life and career afterwards are aptly described as a roller coaster – artistically, health-wise, emotionally, financially. "I'm somebody," he never tired of emphasizing. To be noticed, or even better: to be taken seriously – that was important to Helmut Berger. Until the last. Repentance, he once said, is the feeling of regretting something wrong. "I live in the moment and there is nothing wrong with the moment." An acting king.

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2023-05-18

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