Directed by Luchino Visconti • 1971 • Italy
Starring Dirk Bogarde, Björn Andrésen, Marisa Berenson
Based on the classic novella by Thomas Mann, this late-career masterpiece from Luchino Visconti is a meditation on the nature of art, the allure of beauty, and the inescapability of death. A fastidious composer reeling from a disastrous concert, Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde, in an exquisitely nuanced performance) travels to Venice to recover. There, he is struck by a vision of pure beauty in the form of a young boy named Tadzio (Björn Andrésen), his infatuation developing into an obsession even as rumors of a plague spread through the city. Setting Mann’s story of queer desire and bodily decay against the sublime music of Gustav Mahler, DEATH IN VENICE is one of cinema’s most exalted literary adaptations, as sensually rich as it is allegorically resonant.
This 2008 documentary about the career of DEATH IN VENICE director Luchino Visconti features new and archival interviews with Visconti: actors Burt Lancaster, Silvana Mangano, and Marcello Mastroianni; filmmakers Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli; and others.
In this 2018 program, literature and cinema scholar Stefano Albertini provides context for DEATH IN VENICE within Italian culture and explores the career, style, and themes of director Luchino Visconti.
Made in 1970, this program follows director Luchino Visconti as he searches all over Europe for an actor to fill the role of Tadzio in his dream project, DEATH IN VENICE, before discovering Björn Andrésen.
This segment from a documentary about music in the films of director Luchino Visconti, which was originally broadcast May 13, 1990, on France 2, features actors Marisa Berenson and Dirk Bogarde discussing the filmmaker and his use of the work of Gustav Mahler in DEATH IN VENICE.
This 1970 short behind-the-scenes documentary made to promote DEATH IN VENICE features interviews with director Luchino Visconti and actor Dirk Bogarde and showcases Visconti’s painstaking attention to detail.