Death In Venice Movie Review
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.