English actor Dirk Bogarde may have lived in the closet, but Italian filmmaker Luchino Visconti did not. Visconti also had the luxury of being born into an aristocratic family. So did German novelist Thomas Mann, but he struggled with his sexual identity all his life. And all three collide in 1971’s Death in Venice. Bogarde plays an aging and infirmed composer who’s come to Venice for his health. There he spies an adolescent boy (Björn Andrésen) who enchants him. Though they share only words, and few at that, every moment he sees the teen is another moment of life. If only he’d paid more attention to the odd smells and the hush-hush behavior around every corner. He thought he was the star in a story of romance, turns out it was a tragedy all along. Available now on Blu-ray and DVD from The Criterion Collection.
The above review first appeared in Boulder Weekly Vol. 27, No. 42, “Home Viewing: Pride Streams.”
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