Discovering the Passionate Films of Luchino Visconti
Death in Venice (Morte a Venezia)
Introduced by Karen Fang, professor at the University of Houston and member of the MFAH film committee
While recovering in 1911 Venice, a sickly composer (Dirk Bogarde) becomes dangerously fixated on a teenage boy (Björn Andrésen). Loosely based on Thomas Mann’s novella and featuring music by Gustav Mahler, Death in Venice is a piercing meditation on mortality, sexuality, beauty, and longing for youth.
“I tell these stories about self-destruction and dissolution of families as if I were recounting Requiem.” —Luchino Visconti
“No 14 best art-house film of all time.” —The Guardian
“The opening sequence alone, as the small steamer chugs up the Lido to the strains of the Adagio from Mahler's Fifth Symphony, is one of the finest opening passages in all of cinema. And in the role of Aschenbach, Dirk Bogarde is simply magnificent. This is one of the greatest performances in all cinema.” —A Potpourri of Vestiges
“Some shots of Björn Andrésen, the Tadzio of the film, could be extracted from the frame and hung on the walls of the Louvre or the Vatican in Rome. For this is not a pretty youngster who is supposed to represent an object of perverted lust; that was neither novelist Mann’s nor director/screenwriter Visconti’s intention. Rather, this is a symbol of a beauty allied to those which inspired Michelangelo’s David and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and which moved Dante to seek ultimate aesthetic catharsis in the distant figure of Beatrice.” —The Great Romantic Films