Death in Venice ★★★★½

When did Gustav Von Aschenbach begin dying? More importantly, what parts of him were dying or were already dead by the present time we meet our protagonist? Was it when his health problems took effect? When he lost passion in his music? When his wife left him or when he lost respect for beauty and others in his life. Aschenbach has become more apathetic, especially to himself.

"Death in Venice" is perhaps my favorite film of Luchino Visconti, still retaining the directors refined look he's known for, yet it reminded me of an Antonioni movie: The way it uses nothingness to eccentuate a haunting feeling of grief and loneliness. Not only are there long takes, but the scenes really take their time and are filled with very little dialogue, thus letting the viewer interpret whats happening from the emptiness encased.

Aschenbach wanting to find a cure for his detachment, takes a holiday in Venice where he becomes infatuated in a young boy. A very disturbing and taboo obsession, however this rejuvenates a sense of spirit deep within the bitter, againg, Aschenbach. He sees beauty again and admires it. The boy is the only thing he has ever felt passionate about in years. This begins an exploration of desire and leads to downfalls.

Aschenbach soon becomes struck with paranoia as he suspects that the city is in fact plagued with diseases, despite insistence from citizens that it is not. This fear increases, and certain events in the plot lead him to believe that he was meant to be there; as if death would come for him no matter what. But is this a good thing or a bad thing? Aschenbach debates whether he should stay and witness the only beautiful creature he has seen in ages, or leave the city escaping his death. However, I refer back to my first question I asked in this review: When did Gustav Von Aschenbach begin dying? Our protagonist has turned away from love and other desires due to the repercussions it has brought him, yet on the contrary he still looks for a reason to live. Due to the pain his previous desires have brought him, Aschenbach has swore of being attracted to beautiful things as they seem only to ruin him. He wants to stay with the boy, but that will surely mean the death of him. If Aschenbach is already dead, and death is inescapable, than what does he have to loose? In this wicked world, we are all going to die, but in our short time we should live for passion, and that sometimes means sacrifice. Gustav Von Aschenbach dies after making a subtle connection with the boy he was so enamored with bringing heart, hope and soul back into his life. Life returns to a man who was once dead for a brief moment

Death in Venice is not a film about the fear of death, but the fear of life.


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