Saturday, July 26, 2008

Morte a Venezia (Luchino Visconti, 1971) aka Death in Venice

Death in Venice (Luchino Visconti, 1971)
Rating: 6.2

Dirk Bogarde delivers an excellent performance as Gustav von Aschenbach in this fairly dull story about a composer vacationing in Venice to escape his stressful life and becoming infatuated with an adolescent boy who embodies the ideal beauty he has sought after. Visconti utilizes the slow zoom technique throughout the film in virtually every scene. Even though this was the decade most notorious for the zoom technique, I think Visconti still goes overboard, and it's truly a shame because his wide shot compositions are so incredible, but constantly butchered by distracting zooms. I honestly think I could have enjoyed this film if not for the zooming. It is strange to think one element can have such an effect, but it is so overbearing and distracting. The zooms were effective at times, particularly for Gustav's POV shot were he is fixing his gaze on the young boy. My favorite shot is a meandering POV of shot full of zooms, pans and tilts, where Gustav scans the beach patrons. Otherwise the zooms are tedious and tacky. I found this essay that reasonably argues the effectiveness of the zooming, however I still don't like it:

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