Death in Venice (1971) - Plot Summary Poster


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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 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.

  • It's the early twentieth century. Gustav von Aschenbach, once married with a daughter, is a Munich based composer of experimental music. Now a frail middle-aged man in ill health, he is advised by his doctor to get complete rest. As such, he is alone at the Grand Hotel, on the Lido in Venice, to convalesce. He and his friend Alfred have had many a philosophical discussion about the concept of beauty, not only as it applies to his oft not appreciated music, but as it applies to the arts and life in general. It is in Gustav's belief in how the nature of beauty can dominate one on a scientific as opposed to emotional level that he becomes obsessed with a Polish teenager named Tadzio, who looks to be staying at the hotel with his sisters and their mother. Most of Gustav's interactions with Tadzio are furtive yet still intense gazes from afar. As time progresses, Gustav admits to himself that that obsession turns into love, with nary a word spoken between the two of them. On an emotional level, he is torn by his feelings, he at first trying to escape physically, then changing to doing anything to remain within view of Tadzio. What happens between Gustav and Tadzio may be dictated by issues external to them.

  • Gustav Von Aschenbach, a composer utterly absorbed in his work, arrives in Venice as a result of a youthfully ardent thirst for distant scenes and there meets a young man by whose beauty he becomes obsessed. His pitiful pursuit of the object of his overpowering affection and its inevitable and tragic consequences is told here in Visconti's luminous work of of art.

  • While recovering in Venice, a sickly composer becomes dangerously fixated with a teenage boy.

    Will S


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