Casanova – the man behind the myth


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No-one has been as famous for his art of seduction and love affairs as he: Giacomo Casanova. In his memoirs, the 18th century libertine writes extensively about his numerous amorous encounters. Far from being a Don Juan or a cold-hearted womanizer, however, the world-renowned Venetian was an original thinker, a sensitive friend of women, a sexual revolutionary and an early feminist.


ZDF, 2013
Length: 43 minutes
Directed by: Eike Schmitz
Story by: Eike Schmitz, Philipp Grieß
Camera: Lars Barthel, Philipp Grieß, Felix Leiberg, Lukas Lukincic, Mathieu Brohan
Editor: Mathieu Honoré
Music: Brynmor Jones
Sound design & mix: Sebastian Reuter
Commissioning editor: Hans-Christian Huf
German or English version

Watch the film in german in the ZDF Mediathek

Giacomo Casanova was born in Venice in 1725, to poor parents.

Initially, he is expected to become a priest, but he is ultimately going to reject this career path. His destiny is governed by the love of women, and he challenges the most powerful institutions of his time: the Catholic Church and the Venetian Inquisition. For Casanova, life in decadent Venice is an on-going feast for the senses – until he is jailed for one and a half years in the notorious leads (piombi).

With his spectacular escape from what was known to be the safest prison during his time, he becomes a legend. The power of his charms is a mystery to many. He converses with the great minds of his age and exchanges philosophical ideas with them. Madame de Pompadour and Frederic the Great are among the influential people on whom he leaves a lasting impression. Several times, he wins and loses a fortune in gambling. He converses with the Pope in Rome, establishes the first French lottery in Paris and makes a fortune. Enormous debt eventually causes him to flee London and Madrid, where he is threatened to be executed. He translates Homer’s Iliad and contributes to the libretto of Don Giovanni, Mozart’s opera. He survives several duels and works for the Venetian secret service. In the figure of Casanova, the entire 18th century comes alive.

At the heart of his thought and action, there is always the love of women and the pursuit of happiness. His memoirs are quite likely the most sincere and erotically frank life report that has ever been written in the history of mankind. Perhaps this is why, even 200 years after his death, Casanova, the libertine, feels like a modern to us. With his uninhibited sensuality and sexual conduct, Casanova redefines the relationship between men and women beyond religion and convention in an almost revolutionary way.

The film is a portrait of the man who became a myth. Adrian Becker plays Giacomo Casanova. Elaborate re-enactments, mainly filmed in original locations, tell the ‘true story’ of the great seducer.

My seductions always happened unconsciously, because I myself was (the) seduced.

– Giacomo Casanova


Giacomo Casanova – Adrian Becker

with Yeri Anarika, Petra Barthel, Jörg Biester, Paolo Boldrin, Christiane Burgschat, Katharina Burowa, Gregor Chmiel, Nina Gladitz, Valentina Gonzo, Jonathan Guntermann, Marielena Krewer, Hans Peter Kruchten, Antonia Labs, Helge Leiberg, Ana lessing, Michael Lorbeer, Giovanni Pomoni, Kerstin Reimann, Bruno Renne, Christian Schulz, Evelyn Sommerhoff, Eva Statz, Hartmut Weiss, Florian Wegner, Barock in Dresden e.v., les arts du baroque e.v. …