The French poster for Death In Venice is a lovely piece of graphic design. Get into those colors!
The cognoscenti have always loved this film. The avid worship from the dedicated aesthetes was there back in in 1971. Reading back issues of Interview magazine from that era one finds constant swooning between scenesters like Bianca Jagger and Victor Hugo over the languid lyricism of Visconti's film. TI was reminded of the dear place this film holds in the hearts of today's fashionistas via the reportage of Chanel's last resort show held in Venice. Held on the beach at dusk the reference to the final moments of "Death In Venice" with the anodyne Tadzio pointing out to the far horizon was more than accidental. More remarkable is the fact of how this one film has overwhelmed the common perception of what Venice is or isn't. I suspect the Venice depicted in "Death In Venice" is supremely Viscontian. Each unspooling scene, each sequential frame is not just a count down to Gustav von Aschenbach's death, its also also a slow, bittersweet elegy to the dying glories of the 19th century bourgeoise. As such no lily goes ungilded, no piece of lace is left untended and you understand that Visconti is relishing every last detail of a world that can now only exist on film. I saw the film before I read Thomas Mann's novella and for a long time thought the genius of this movie was in the transpositions and judicious liberties taken by Visconti. In the book for instance, von Aschenbach is a writer, not a composer . Visconti's clever switch also justifies the magisterial use of Mahler's 5th symphony as a kind of tone poem to guide the viewer through his operatic finale. But there's the funny thing all the mannerisms and directives that makes the ending of this film so moving, were there in Mann's text. "Death In Venice" is lush and rich and decadent and cloying and slightly sickening (which might be the director's intention in the end). But more brilliantly than that, it mingles social history, literature, cinema, fashion and interior design in a way that few films ever do.