Cinema Simply Different

After a fiasco, the composer Gustav von Aschenbach travels to Venice to recover. There he falls under the spell of a youth of unusual beauty, Tadzio. Von Aschenbach becomes consumed by his forbidden love. He descends into decadence, his very being falls into dissolution. At the same time, signs of pestilence hang over the city. Von Aschenbach should leave. Yet in the halls of the Grand Hôtel their eyes meet … and Tadzio smiles.

Death in Venice is the quintessential film adaptation of a novel. Visconti’s soft touch transforms Thomas Mann’s novella into pure film poetry. The tragedy ¬– and eroticism – remain hidden beneath the surface. Only the acting of Dirk Bogarde and the late-romantic music of Gustav Mahler hint at them. The film is crowned by beautiful, luxurious images of Venice during the fin de siècle. Venice shows herself as she was perceived during the end of the 19th century, as a city of decay and decadence, and as a metaphor for the tension between love and death.

Michael Schmutzer

Other films in this program