Abroad on a rest holiday, composer Gustav Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) is to all the world reserved and civilized. But when he glimpses someone who inspires him to give way to a secret passion, it foreshadows his doom. Director Luchino Visconti (Rocco and His Brothers, The Damned ) transforms Thomas Mann’s classic novel into “a masterwork of power and beauty” (William Wolf, Cue).
Like Aschenbach, Visconti is an artist obsessed: his movies are awash in mood, period detail and seething emotions beneath placid surfaces. Earning its maker a Cannes Film Festival Special 25th- Anniversary Prize, Death in Venice – with a soundtrack feast of Gustav Mahler music and a haunting Bogarde performance – is Visconti at his best.