Luchino Visconti’s sublime meditation on mortality and desire, in a major new restoration.
Based on the classic novella by Thomas Mann, this late-career masterpiece from Luchino Visconti (The Leopard) 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 (Björn Andrésen), his infatuation developing into an obsession even as rumours 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.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
Luchino Visconti: Life as in a Romance, a 2008 documentary about Visconti, featuring actors Burt Lancaster, Silvana Mangano and Marcello Mastroianni; filmmakers Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli
Alla ricerca di Tadzio, a 1970 programme on Visconti’s efforts to cast the role of Tadzio
New programme featuring literature and cinema scholar Stefano Albertini
Interview from 2006 with costume designer Piero Tosi
Excerpt from a 1990 programme about the music in Visconti’s films, featuring Bogarde and actor Marisa Berenson
Television broadcast from 1971 in which Visconti discusses the film
Visconti’s Venice, a short 1970 behind-the-scenes documentary featuring Visconti and Bogarde
PLUS: An essay by critic Dennis Lim