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Death in Venice (1971)

Morte a Venezia (original title)
GP | | Drama | 5 March 1971 (Italy)
3:49 | Trailer

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In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) travels to a Venetian seaside resort in search of repose after a period... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 18 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Romolo Valli ...
Mark Burns ...
Nora Ricci ...
Frau von Aschenbach
Björn Andrésen ...
Tadzio (as Björn Andresen)
Leslie French ...
Travel Agent
Antonio Appicella ...
Sergio Garfagnoli ...
Jaschu, Polish youth
Ciro Cristofoletti ...
Luigi Battaglia ...
Dominique Darel ...
English tourist


In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) travels to a Venetian seaside resort in search of repose after a period of artistic and personal stress. But he finds no peace there, for he soon develops a troubling attraction to an adolescent boy, Tadzio, on vacation with his family. The boy embodies an ideal of beauty that Aschenbach has long sought and he becomes infatuated. However, the onset of a deadly pestilence threatens them both physically and represents the corruption that compromises and threatens all ideals. Written by Eric Wees <eric_wees@ccmail.chin.doc.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The celebrated story of a man obsessed with ideal beauty.




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Release Date:

5 March 1971 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Death in Venice  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.40 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film debut of Marisa Berenson. See more »


The prostitute peers out from the piano towards von Aschenbach on her left, but then she is shown sitting facing him on her right. See more »


Gustav von Aschenbach: Madame, will you permit an entire stranger, to serve you with a word of advice and warning, which self-interests prevents others from saying. Go away! Go away, immediately. Don't delay. Please, I beg you.
See more »


Referenced in Costumes from the Films of Visconti (1978) See more »


Written by Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Masha Predit
See more »

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User Reviews

Unforgettable romantic drama
18 May 2004 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Set in Venice mainly on the Lido, Visconti's "Death in Venice" is a triumph of filmmaking combining the excellence of Dirk Bogarde's characterisation and expert photography of the resort area in all its various daily moods. For those who love Venice, this is a film to cherish.

Mahler's music frequently heard throughout the film heightens the drama. The mood it creates is not always happy. But then what else would you expect with a title like that?

There is not a lot of dialogue in the film. Rather sparse in fact. It's mainly background noises and chatter and laughter among the hotel guests. The intriguing part is to interpret the exchange of glances between Gustav von Aschenbach a composer of some renown and a slim teenage youth Tadzio who see each other from time to time across the tables of the hotel dining room, on the beach and at odd unexpected places around Venice. They seem to acknowledge each other's presence shyly at first with little more than the suggestion of a smile but later with a strong and riveting and urgent gaze.

Each viewer will have his own interpretation. The composer has lost a child of his own. Is this behaviour an expression of yearning for the child he loved? Is it perhaps a sexual attraction towards this fragile young man with his dazed somewhat girlish stare? Could he be discovering some new inspiration for a yet unwritten musical masterpiece? Who knows?

From beginning to end this film captures the true spirit of 19th Century Venice. The elegance of the ladies, the deck chairs on the sand, the children frolicking in their neck-to-knee bathing costumes, the glow of sunsets and a general feeling of satisfaction with the world. While some may think the pace is rather slow at times, the film has an overall gentle quality, but with a simmering indecision between two repressed human beings. Be prepared for a sad and beautiful ending.

14 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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