Thomas Mann & Gustav Mahler
There is possibly a no more overwhelming death in cinema than the one that ends this adaptation of Thomas Mann‘s novella of homosexual desire. Dirk Bogarde is perfection as the bitter, vitriolic Gustav Aschenbach, a man so consumed with what he considers ideal beauty that he welcomes his own destruction for a moment in it’s company.
Thomas Mann and Gustav Mahler had met only once, in Munich, at the premiere of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, an event that was a huge success. The writer was struck by Mahler’s «burningly intense personality». Eight months later, when Mann was on an Adriatic holiday, the papers reported that Mahler was seriously ill. Mann followed news of his deteriorating condition by the day, and was shocked to read of his death. He clipped a photograph of the composer. This, together with his recollection of their meeting, came to have considerable significance in his next literary creation, the novella Death in Venice.
In Mann’s novella, Aschenbach is a novelist. Visconti‘s decision to make him a composer instead opened the treasure houses of Mahler’s 3rd and 5th symphonies. Otherwise the film is faithful to its source: Aschenbach has come to Venice to recover from personal and artistic stresses. Instead, overtaken by an unrequited passion for an unattainable boy, he courts death by failing to heed warnings about the cholera epidemic sweeping the city.
The piece most closely associated with Death in Venice is the fourth movement from his Fifth Symphony, marked Adagietto, a short slow movement that is like nothing else from the 10 that Mahler composed.
Death in Venice is a sad but beautiful film. Mahler’s music expresses very well what the main character feels: solitude, tragedy, pain, decadence… It’s very moving. You can also enjoy Britten’s opera, a ballet and the novel, of course. But what I prefer is the film with Mahler’s music. Nowadays I am a fan of Mahler thanks to Visconti:symphonies and lieder.
How fortunate in life we are to have a great classical music
The opera is not for everyone. Death in Venice is expressionist and difficult to understand if you are not used to. It is a recitativo without arias, fight between the orchestra and the main character. A very odd beauty, but a real beauty.
Opera’s not for everyone, especially at these prices.
yes, you are right but you can use youtube fortunately.
Here you are your portraits:
Britten and his lover, the tenor Robert Pears helped the Spanish Republic with recitals. The money they got was for the republicans.
Wonderful, thank you!
I loved this movie soon there first scenes when I saw it years ago. It has an exquisite sensitiveness and lyricism, a very poignant portray of life and death, what is pure vs corrupted minds. I loved it so much.
One remarkably sad piece of art.