Sunday, June 22, 2014

Death in Venice

Dirk Bogard as Gustave Ashenbach at the end of DEATH IN VENICE

What's a better thing to do on a Sunday evening than watch Visconti's DEATH IN VENICE again.  Each scene is sublimely beautiful or grotesque, depending on how close Ashenbach is to self destructing figuratively and literally.  It's the black hair dye running down his face, while seeing that last vision of Tadzio standing in the water pointing in the air, that destroys me every time.

I think when Tom and I saw this in 1971, we had never heard Mahler's adagio from the 5th symphony, so when the movie began, we both gasped at the sound track.  

Anyway, each scene is like a well imagined painting, and if beauty is your first choice of the good, the true, and the beautiful, you might like this film.  If you need a heavy plot, forget it.

My favorite quote from the movie:  "Chastity is the gift of old age . . . and in all the world there is no impurity so impure as old age."

Something to think about when you look at the aged as "dear old things."

1 comment:

  1. I still remember the first time I read the book. The first time Tom played the music for us in class. The first time we watched the movie. Yes, the line of black hair dye, like a bulb of oil running down his cheek definitely remains in my mind. I remember writing a paper about necropolis and and biophilis characters.

    I also remember, though not a lot of specifics, driving in my car and talking on the phone with Tom. I was waiting at a traffic light and the sun was shining and the two of you were preparing to leave your lives in Utah and head for New York. He talked about packing and throwing things out. About throwing a party with friends and family. The only specific line of dialogue I remember to this day: "I have destroyed myself." He said.

    Do you remember that Charles gave me a blessing before I moved to New York? I still remember that too.