Venice, a few years before the outbreak of the Great War. Celebrated German composer and conductor Gustave von Aschenbach, arrives by sea to spend a holiday in the city, partly to recuperate from the rigours of his work, partly to contemplate an artistic impasse prompted by the stricture of his friend Alfried.

In the salon of the Hotel des Bains on the Lido, Aschenbach observes the other guests and is particularly intrigued by a Polish family – mother, daughters and their governess, and a son of about fourteen whose strikingly handsome looks and stern expression fascinate him. As the days pass, Aschenbach’s continuing fascination with the boy, whom he learns is called Tadzio, begins vaguely to trouble him; and since he is discomforted by the sultry air which hangs over Venice, he decides to leave, only to return when he discovers at the station – not without some satisfaction – that his trunk has been misdirected. He continues to watch Tadzio, but is partly distracted by rumours – denied by the hotel management – of a mysterious illness in the city, which he eventually learns is Asiatic cholera.

Pleased by the efforts of a barber to make him look younger, Aschenbach cherishes his obsession with Tadzio, in whom he sees the physical embodiment of the ideal of pure beauty which he has been striving to achieve in his work. When news of the epidemic spreads, the hotel guests begin to leave, until one morning Aschenbach goes down to the beach and finds only Tadzio there. As he watches the boy walking over the sand, he collapses in his chair and dies.



March 01, 1971


Luchino Visconti


Thomas Mann (novel), Luchino Visconti (screenplay)


Warner Bros. Pictures


Drama, Fantasy




130 minutes