Uncle Ludwig

Scope and Content

In c.1970 the film director Anthony Wilkinson approached Lord Birkett (1929-2015) to collaborate, as producer, on a film about Ludwig van Beethoven's relationship with his nephew. During their subsequent discussions, it was suggested that either Richard Burton or Rod Steiger should play the part of the composer and that Anthony Burgess should be invited to write the screenplay. Wilkinson and Burgess went on to swap ideas and drafts and eventually produced a screenplay that combined many of their ideas, titled Uncle Ludwig. Several meetings with Rod Steiger followed and both Warner Brothers and Colombia Pictures expressed an interest in making the film. The project ran into difficulties when production of a rival Beethoven film was announced, to be made by Paul Morrissey.

After Burgess's death, Wilkinson sought to revive the film project and approached Sir Anthony Hopkins for the role of Beethoven. While he was re-writing the screenplay however, Wilkinson received news that another proposed Beethoven film was in production, "Immortal Beloved", starring Gary Oldman, and was thus forced to postpone the project once again.

This series consists of an outline for a screenplay by Anthony Wilkinson, and a complete draft screenplay by Anthony Burgess.

Source: "The Real Life of Anthony Burgess" by Andrew Biswell (Picador, 2005); "Burgess and Beethoven, Part I", by Lord Birkett in Anthony Burgess Newsletter, Issue 2, March 2000 (Université d'Angers, France); and "Burgess and Beethoven, Part II", by Anthony Wilkinson in Anthony Burgess Newsletter, Issue 2, March 2000 (Université d'Angers, France)