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Death In Venice review

Does Visconti's overwrought adaptation of Thomas Mann's novella actually warrant the masterpiece status it's routinely accorded? Of course not, as anyone coming to this re-released print with an objective mind will surely realise.

It's the portentous tale of Gustave von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde), a widowed German composer who arrives in a plague-ridden Venice. Hoping to rest and relax, he instead becomes bewitched by the beauty of young Polish boy Tadzio (Björn Andrésen).

Hardly riveting stuff, especially given it unfolds at a funereal pace in hazy soft focus and is over-reliant on its sublime Mahler soundtrack for emotional impact. Bogarde's off-puttingly mannered central performance doesn't help either, and the stilted flashback conversations between Aschenbach and a musical colleague are an annoyance.

That said, Visconti and cinematographer Pasquale De Santis impressively recreate an overcast, fin-de-siècle Venice, in particular the decorous Hotel Des Bains and its private beach. Sumptuous, then, but curiously insubstantial.

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