DEATH IN VENICE (1971) C 128m dir: Luchino Visconti
W/Dirk Bogarde, Bjorn Andresen, Silvana Mangano, Marisa Berenson, Mark Burns, Romolo Valli, Nora Ricci, Carole Andre, Masha Predit, Leslie French
It may not be possible to do full cinematic justice to Thomas Mann's classic, complicated, richly textured novella. But Visconti has certainly captured the visual quality, the look and feel of Venice circa 1911, a city dying of a secret pestilence. Bogarde plays, with great restraint, an aging, world-famous gay composer named Gustav von Aschenbach (modeled after Gutav Mahler) who has developed an uncontrollable passion for the ravishing young boy Tadzio(Andresen).
From The Movie Guide: "Bogarde is superb as the dying composer. The beautiful cinematography [by Pasqualino De Santis] combines with Ferdinando Scarfiotti's art direction to produce a powerful remembrance of time and place past. Visconti also makes use of Mahler's Third and Fifth symphonies. The music haunts the film, as do the quiet whispers of sound that help create the film's almost surreal environment. The delicacy of the soundtrack evokes the mood of Aschenbach's last days and his obsession with the face of Tadzio. DEATH IN VENICE was met with almost universal disapproval and misunderstanding when it was first released but, despite the omissions from Mann's text, dependence on flashbacks, and overwrought arguments about art and music between Aschenbach and a colleague, it remains a film of great beauty."