Death In Venice Film Analysis

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In Luchino Visconti’s film, Death in Venice (1971), Gustav von Aschenbach, an older man, becomes infatuated with a young Polish boy named Tadzio during a trip to Venice . This same sex attraction ties into several major themes in the film, particularly notions of voyeurism, illness, infatuation and disguise. Death in Venice received negative attention at the time of its release due to its homosexual connotations. Historically, homosexuality has been at times considered to be linked with mental illness. Similarly, present and past treatment of pedophilia has been highly medicalized. It becomes apparent the ways in which homosexuality and pedophilia are linked within the film, both in their taboo nature and the way in which the two have been perceived as illness, another evident theme within the film which arises. Using Thomas Waugh’s “The Third Body”, this essay attempts to…show more content…
In the film, Venice is rampant with illness and Aschenbach falls very ill and eventually dies at the culmination of the film. Although currently homosexuality is not viewed as as a form of mental illness or linked to psychopathology, historically it was viewed as highly medicalized. One could draw the connection between Aschenbach’s illness to this dated view of homosexuality. Furthermore, his illness eventually leads to a disguise of himself. According to Thomas Waugh, a disguise is a basic term of homosexual’s survival as an invisible, stigmatized minority (Waugh 434). The costume of a gay subject acts in different ways. In Death in Venice, it is Aschenbach’s bodily condition that he disguises. Age is of course, what led Aschenbach to his present problems and, inevitably combined with his illness, to his death. In one of the flashback scenes of the film, Aschenbach’s friend tells him “There is nothing as impure as the impurity of old age” (Visconti) Tadzio is delicate and pure and Aschenbach longs for this idealized perfect vision of

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