A fastidious composer reeling from a disastrous concert, Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde, in an exquisitely nuanced performance) travels to Venice to recover. There, he is struck by a vision of pure beauty in the form of a young boy named Tadzio (Björn Andrésen), his infatuation developing into an obsession even as rumors of a plague spread through the city.
Setting Mann’s story of queer desire and bodily decay against the sublime music of Gustav Mahler, Death in Venice is one of cinema’s most exalted literary adaptations, as sensually rich as it is allegorically resonant.
In February, The Criterion Collection will be releasing a brand-new, must-own special edition of the film – available on both DVD and Blu-ray – featuring a new 4K digital restoration. Included in the special features will be Luchino Visconti: Life as in a Novel, a 2008 documentary about the director, featuring Visconti, actors Burt Lancaster, Silvana Mangano and Marcello Mastroianni and filmmakers Francesco Rosi and Franco Zeffirelli; Alla ricerca di Tadzio, a 1970 short film by Visconti about his efforts to cast the role of Tadzio; Visconti’s Venice, a short 1970 behind-the-scenes documentary featuring Visconti and Bogarde; and much, much more.