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Death in Venice (1971)

Morte a Venezia (original title)
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While recovering in Venice, a sickly composer becomes dangerously fixated with a teenage boy.

Director:

Luchino Visconti

Writers:

Thomas Mann (novel), Luchino Visconti (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

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dirk Bogarde ... Gustav von Aschenbach
Romolo Valli ... Hotel Manager
Mark Burns Mark Burns ... Alfred
Nora Ricci ... Tadzio's Governess
Marisa Berenson ... Frau von Aschenbach
Carole André ... Esmeralda - Brothel Prostitute
Björn Andrésen Björn Andrésen ... Tadzio (as Björn Andresen)
Silvana Mangano ... Tadzio's Mother
Leslie French Leslie French ... Travel Agent
Franco Fabrizi ... Barber
Antonio Appicella Antonio Appicella ... Vagrant
Sergio Garfagnoli Sergio Garfagnoli ... Jaschu - Polish Youth
Ciro Cristofoletti Ciro Cristofoletti ... Hotel Clerk
Luigi Battaglia Luigi Battaglia ... Scapegrace
Dominique Darel ... English Tourist
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The celebrated story of a man obsessed with ideal beauty.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Italy | France | USA

Language:

English | Italian | Polish | French | Russian | German

Release Date:

5 March 1971 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Death in Venice See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One day during filming Björn Andrésen asked Dirk Bogarde what his favorite Beatles song was. Bogarde did not know how to answer. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Gustav von Aschenbach: I've been trying to find out, no one will tell me the truth, they are disinfecting Venice. Do you know why?
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Wiegenlied
(uncredited)
Written by Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Masha Predit
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beauty Found and Lost in Venice: Mann + Mahler +Visconti = a Masterpiece
11 December 2006 | by G_a_l_i_n_aSee all my reviews

I first saw "Death in Venice" 1971) about 15 years ago, found it profoundly moving and often thought about it. Watching it again few days ago, I realized that it is close to the top of the great works of cinema. With hardly any dialog it captivates a viewer with the beautiful cinematography, the fine acting, and, above all, the Mahler's music without which the movie simply could not exist.

"Death in Venice" is a stunning Luchino Visconti's adaptation of the Thomas Mann novella about a famous composer (in the novella he was a writer but making him a composer in a movie was a great idea that works admirably) Gustav von Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) who travels to Venice in the summer of 1911 to recover from personal losses and professional failures. His search for beauty and perfection seems to be completed when he sees a boy of incredible divine beauty. Ashenbach (Dirk Bogard) follows the boy everywhere never trying to approach him. The boy, Tadzio, belonged to very rare creatures that own an enigmatic and inconceivable power which captivates you, enchants you, conquers you and makes you its prisoner. Ashenbach became one of the prisoners of Tadzio spellbinding charms. He became addicted to him; he fell in love with him. Was it bless or curse for him? I think both. He died from unreachable, impossible yet beautiful love which object was perfection itself. The last image Ashenbach's eyes captured was that of the boy's silhouette surrounded by the sea and golden sun light. Nothing could compare to the beauty and charm of the scene and to take it with you to the grave is the death one can only dream about. If he could, Ashenbach probably would've said, "I was able to witness one of the faces of perfection, I could not bear it but I was chosen to learn that it exists here, in this world and I can die in peace now because it did happen to me."

Unforgettable music, Gustav Mahler's haunting adagietto of his Fifth Symphony found perfect use in a perfect movie. It reflects every emotion of a main character - it sobs, it longs, it begs for hope, and it summarizes the idea that once you are blessed to encounter beauty you are condemned to die. I may come up with hundreds movies that use classical music to perfection but nothing will ever compare to "Death in Venice". I dare say that Mahler's music IS its main character - it would change and sound differently depending on what was happening on the screen. It sounded triumphantly when Ashenbach returned back to Venice, to what he thought would be his happiness but turned to be his death. It sounded gloomy when he first entered Venice from the sea. You can hear so many different feelings in it - tenderness and adoration, confusion and self-loathing, worship and melancholy, but always - LOVE that gives the purest happiness and breaks the hearts (literally). The movie for a viewer is similar to what the boy was for the aging composer/writer/Artist. We are enchanted and captivated by its power and beauty as much as Achenbach was by the boy's mysterious charm.


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