AUGUST THE STRONG – A Playboy on Saxon’s Throne

Even during Friedrich August’s childhood, the future Elector of Saxony was known for his vivid imagination and his desire to live his life like a heroic epic. Because he was the younger son, he had no expectation of ascending the Elector’s throne. Fate, however, decreed an early death for his brother, and Friedrich August came to power in 1694. Driven by the strength of his imagination, he was able to turn his dreams of absolute power into reality and became the “Sun King of Saxony.” His life was a political coup de main in which myth and truth were inextricably interwoven. As legend has it, this Saxon Hercules could break horseshoes with his bare hands, amused himself with the most beautiful women in the land, and fathered 354 children with his many mistresses. He possessed treasures such as those described in fairy tales, built an entire castle out of porcelain, and bought the Polish crown so that his majesty would outshine all others. Terra X sets out on an expedition into this man’s magical realm, the fairy-tale king who forcefully wielded his political power, and who loved beauty as well as battles. This documentary approaches this fascinating figure in an entertaining way. The approach is based on a unique document from Count Heinrich Jacob von Flemming, the head of August the Strong’s Secret Cabinet. He wrote a character sketch of his monarch which is as intimate as it is smug. Flemming, played by the Dresdner actor Günter Kurze, narrates the film. Re-enacted scenes in close association with scientific research reconstruct the King and Elector’s realpolitik. They explain with what political intrigue and tactics August the Strong gained the Polish crown, how he financed his costly lifestyle as a baroque prince and, together with his ministers, how he uncovered a tax scandal of enormous dimensions. The re-enactments also illustrate the fairy-tale world in which August the Strong lived. Some of the scenes were filmed on original locations in the Dresden Zwinger and the legendary king’s treasure chamber, the historical Grünen Gewölbe which was reopened in 2006. In the film, a fireworks display in the baroque garden Großsedlitz also marks the beginning of the king’s calamitous affair with the beautiful and self-confident Countess Cosel (Katharina Abt). August the Strong is played by a native of Dresden, the actor Bruno F. Apitz who is well known from German television series. He plays the king as a baroque playboy and tough, power-hungry politician. Leo Natalis plays the young August as well as the first born of the legendary muscle man from Saxony.

Broadcast date Sonntag, 08.März 2009 um 19.30 Uhr im ZDF
Length 45'
Written and directed by: Dr. Luise Wagner-Roos
Production: Christine Lachmann
Line producer: Anke Meyer
Executive producer: Hartmut Klenke
Filming location: Sachsen, Thüringen, Polen