Death In Venice

"Weak"

Death In Venice Review


Dirk Bogarde's mustache in Death in Venice stands as one of the most disturbing hairstyles ever put on film. Combined with his semi-shaggy banker's do and his 1910s attire (say, sitting on the beach in a white three-piece suit), his appearance is unforgettable even if this movie is relatively otherwise.

Hopelessly abstract to the point of silliness, Death in Venice follows Bogarde's Gustav, a composer, on a holiday to Venice where he's meant to relax. Instead he becomes obsessed with the very idea of "beauty." It's hard to blame him -- he encounters a procession of ugly goons throughout his stay, and the already crumbling city is under seige by an outbreak of cholera. You can almost understand why he's looking for something pretty, but when his gaze lands on an androgynous teenage boy (Björn Andrésen) the film becomes beyond troubling. Gustav chases after the kid for the remainder of the film, obsessing about the cholera but subconsciously engineering ways to keep himself from having to leave Venice.

If you follow Visconti's abstraction -- and consider the film for what it says about ugliness being all around us (and presumably that extends to Gustav's dirty-old-man mind by the end of he picture) -- there's some curious value to be found in Death in Venice. The film's score is outstanding, and the cinematography is often good -- the Visconti is much too fond of zooming in haphazardly for the first hour of the picture. The performances are nothing to write home about -- Andrésen has virtually zero lines and Bogarde plays Gustav with a hamfist, practically drooling over the kid he's stalking. But hey, maybe that was just the cholera talking.

Aka Morte a Venezia.



Death In Venice

Facts and Figures

Run time: 130 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th March 1971

Distributed by: WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: Marlin Miller as Gustav von Aschenbach, Razek François Bitar as Voice of Apollo, Scott Hendricks as Traveller and other roles, Alessandro Riga as Tadzio

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