Death in Venice (1971)
"Morte a Venezia" (original title)

GP  |   |  Drama  |  5 March 1971 (Italy)
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Reviews: 109 user | 55 critic

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 »
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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
Esmeralda (as Carole Andre)
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 <>

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  »

Box Office


SEK 630,202 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mark Burns later admitted he never understood the meaning of his dialogue. See more »


Just before leaving his hotel room for the first time, Aschenbach puts a handkerchief ("pochet") in the pocket of his costume. Arriving downstairs, the handkerchief is gone. See more »


Gustav von Aschenbach: I remember we had one of these in my father's house. The aperture through which the sand runs is so tiny that... that first it seems as if the level in the upper glass never changes. To our eyes it appears that the sand runs out only... only at the end... and until it does, it's not worth thinking about... 'til the last moment... when there's no more time left to think about it.
See more »


Referenced in Pleisterkade 17: Deel 8 (1976) See more »


Adagietto From Symphony No.5
Written by Gustav Mahler
Conducted by Franco Mannino
Performed by The Orchestra of the Academy of Saint Cecilia
Courtesy of Varèse Sarabande
See more »

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User Reviews

A visionary masterpiece (but not for those with short attention spans)!
13 April 1999 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Turn-of-the-century Venice is depicted in all its elegance and decay through the eyes of a composer who knows he has little time left to live. The composer is obsessed not just with beauty, but with the ideas behind beauty, and his theories are slowly proved wrong when he finds himself infatuated with a beautiful teenage boy. He becomes obsessed with the boy and amidst the backdrop of a city quietly dying with a plague, he simply observes and ponders, trying his best to keep his desires at bay.

The core of the film is in Dirk Bogarde's performance. As there is little dialogue in the film, he must act with his eyes and through his mannerisms, and he never falters. In the reflection of his eyes we see beauty as it is distinguished in the depths of all of our souls (well, those of us who have souls!). We see the awe, the pain, the fever, the fear, the desire and the ultimate surrender all in that forlorn face.

The music (most of it by Gustave Mahler) also reflects all this, and Visconti's incredible photography of the decaying Venice pinpoints the end of an era in a way that is both dreamlike and unsentimental (despite the romantic quality of the film).

The film is slow and langorous, like the hush of the ocean sweeping the shore. For those who like the visual quality of dreams and the somber romanticism of adagios, this film will be something to cherish forever.

38 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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