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Death in Venice (1971)

Morte a Venezia (original title)
GP | | Drama | 5 March 1971 (Italy)
While recovering in Venice, a sickly composer becomes dangerously fixated with a teenage boy.

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Writers:

(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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Hotel Manager
Mark Burns ...
Nora Ricci ...
Tadzio's Governess
...
Frau von Aschenbach
...
Esmeralda - Brothel Prostitute
Björn Andrésen ...
Tadzio (as Björn Andresen)
...
Tadzio's Mother
Leslie French ...
...
Barber
Antonio Appicella ...
Vagrant
Sergio Garfagnoli ...
Ciro Cristofoletti ...
Hotel Clerk
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:

| |

Language:

| | | | |

Release Date:

5 March 1971 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Death in Venice  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.40 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the Thomas Mann novella Aschenbach is an author, not a composer. 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

Alfred: Wisdom. Truth. Human Dignity. All finished! Now there is no reason why you cannot go to your grave with your music.
See more »


Soundtracks

Lippen schweigen
/Merry Widow Waltz (uncredited)
Written by Franz Lehár
Scene before dinner; von Aschenbach sees Tadzio for the first time
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unforgettable romantic drama
18 May 2004 | by 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.


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