Prince Pückler – Playboy, Pasha, Parkomaniac


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Prince Pückler – Playboy, Pasha, Parkomaniac
watch the film in german in the ZDF Mediathek

The name is associated with a brand of ice-cream rather than with a man’s life work. A dandy who had travelled the East, Prince Pückler was one of the most famous landscape designers of all times. He turned his own land into sublime works of art, and his travelogues had an impact on millions of enthusiastic readers. Prince Pückler: the most eccentric aristocrat in 19th century Prussia.


ZDF, Arte 2015
Length:: 43/53 minutes
Written and directed by: Eike Schmitz, Philipp Grieß
Camera: Philipp Grieß, Lars Barthel
Editor: Mathieu Honoré
Music: Brynmor Jones
Sound design & mix: Sebastian Reuter
Production assistant: Elisabeth Fest
Narrator: Gert Heidenreich
Commissioning editor ZDF: Bernhard von Dadelsen
Commissioning editor ZDF/Arte: Peter Allenbacher


A well-heeled playboy, Pückler captures the imagination of emerging tabloid journalism. In 1817, he marries the daughter of the powerful Prussian chancellor of state, Hardenberg. Although the decision is motivated by considerations other than love, the couple discovers that they are soulmates when it comes to garden and landscape design. In order to realize their joint vision, she agrees to a divorce. The plan is to find a better match, a wealthy wife, in England. Whilst failing to find one he keeps writing letters to his ex-wife, which are published as travelogues and become hugely popular.

For a period of six years, Pückler travels through the East. He is determined to find the source of the river Nile, and risks his life sailing upstream into the region known as Sudan. With his ethnographic gaze and talent as a writer, he makes an exotic world come alive for German audiences at home. Past and present German notions of the East were largely shaped by Pückler’s travelogues.

Despite his success as a travel writer, Prince Pückler’s main legacy are his parks. He perfected the idea of the 19th century English landscape garden. For decades, he was preoccupied with the realization of grand, artificial sceneries inspired by the Romantics. Today, almost 150 years after his death, his visions are eternalized in the parks of Muskau and Branitz.

Elaborate re-enactments depict life in 19th century Prussia. The film is set in original locations that perpetuate the name of the illustrious Prussian nobleman – Prince Pückler.

Art is the highest and noblest thing in life, because it is creation in the service of humanity. Throughout my long life, I have pursued this task to the best of my abilities in the realm of nature.

– Pückler’s last diary entry