Death in Venice
(Morte a Venezia)
Dirk Bogarde, Bjorn Andresen, Marisa Berenson, Silvana Mangano,
Dirk Bogarde ghosts through a dying Venice in Visconti’s ravishing elegy to the mortality of all things: buildings, cities, art, and desire. A once-successful composer arrives in Venice to rejuvenate himself, but this gorgeous city has a secret: it is consumed with the plague. Confronted with both the physical death of the city and the artistic death of his equally doomed career, the composer seeks the things not dying, and finds only one: a young boy, whose lightness provides the sole beauty left in this diseased town. If Visconti’s other color films could be described as operatic, Death in Venice is a cinematic fugue, where the symbiosis of image and song attains its pinnacle. Surprisingly for a literary adaptation (it is based on the Thomas Mann novella), Death in Venice shrugs off words for nearly half its running time, instead allowing the mournful strains of concertos and strings, and the visions of Venice’s splendor, to speak this tale of the longing for beauty, and the death that follows in its absence.