Death in Venice

1971, Drama/Lgbtq+, 2h 10m

25 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Luchino Visconti's Death in Venice is one of his emptier meditations on beauty, but fans of the director will find his knack for sumptuous visuals remains intact. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Composer Gustave Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) travels to a Venice resort to escape personal and artistic stress. However, peace eludes him as he develops a disturbing attraction to an adolescent boy, Tadzio (Björn Andresen). However, their lives are both threatened with a sudden outbreak of cholera.

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Critic Reviews for Death in Venice

Audience Reviews for Death in Venice

  • Apr 07, 2008
    Like the sand in the hourglass, there is no stopping the passage of time. This cinematic achievement is unmatched in its visual eloquence, but remains an emotionally unsatisfying experience. Long shots, slow pans, and silence, only punctuated by Mahler’s symphonies, create emotional distance. On first appearance, Aschenbach is a man already in decline: His cultured facade doesn’t mask an underlying vulgarity. Alienated from his artistic and spiritual impulses, he recognizes an idealized and pure beauty in the form of a pre-pubescent boy, which does nothing to create a more sympathetic character. His realization is much too late, just as the population in Venice is dying from pestilence, and a way of life is dying at the turn of the century. As we follow the boy, it is hard to tell if Tadzio’s glances, poses, and posturing are real or just Aschenbach’s fantasy. During the final scene, we view the sea and sun, the promising horizon formed in the initial scene, but now glittering and hazy. Aschenbach, appearing clown-like with his whitewash and greasepaint, silently observes Tadzio pointing at the sun, and he also reaches out, as if grasping for communion, and dies. Posited on the beach, there is a symbolic, unmanned camera, ready to frame Tadzio in a snapshot. Hauntingly, the final shots rest on Aschenbach’s dripping and smudged death mask, before he is toted off like the sands like garbage. There is a statement about art, beauty, sexuality, and spirituality, residing in this film, but to me it was quite dead.
    Stefanie C Super Reviewer
  • Jan 15, 2008
    One of the most breathtaking and perfect endings in the history of cinema!
    Pedro P Super Reviewer
  • Jul 02, 2007
    A classic of Italian cinema! It's very slow -VERY- but it's definitely worth it. The art direction and the cinematography are amazingly beautiful as in almost all of Visconti's films. On the other hand, since the plot is so slow and it requires such empathy to understand the character's motives and his strange attraction towards the boy, it's a love it or hate it movie, no in-betweens. Sometimes it´s hard to follow because the conflict (the inner conflict) that Bogarde's character has in regards of the concept of beauty as well as the awakening of his nostalgia for his family is occasionally unclear. It's a movie one has to feel and give patience to. Oh and don't be encouraged/discouraged by the alleged homosexual love plot, I personally put down that thesis. I think it's much deeper than that.
    Elvira B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 26, 2007
    Moments of perfection.
    Jeremy S Super Reviewer

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