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Aschenbach assumes the role of Apollo in this myth: he abandons his "duties" and succumbs to his rapture for Tadzio. Note the allusion here to Nietzsche's Apollo.


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Sebastian , a Christian martyr who allows his body to be tortured in the service of "spirit". For an image of St. Sebastian's martyrdom, painted by Fabrizio Boschi , click here. Sebastian lived during the time of the persecution of Christians, and although he himself was a Christian, he joined the Roman military. He advanced to the rank of Captain, and this allowed him to help protect the very Christians he was supposed to guard. When the Roman Emperor Diocletian discovered Sebastian's treason, he had him shot with arrows.

Aschenbach, we might speculate, is a similar "soldier" whose martyrdom is a kind of sacrifice for art rather than for Christianity. Parallel to Sebastian: both are outwardly soldiers who keep an inner secret, a secret related to "erotic" instincts in the larger sense. Both are punished when their secret is made known. Plato says that the soul "grows wings" and makes a first step toward its own dissolution into pure form--hence its ability to communicate in this state of loving self-abandonment with the eternal archetypes.

Already in this conception, Eros and Death are fused. Socrates claims beauty only occurs in nature; Critobulus objects that human-made artifacts are also beautiful, and points to the synthesis of beauty and function.

Just how gay is "Death in Venice"?

Socrates then asserts that if function is the defining trait of beauty, then his own notoriously ugly facial features represent the height of beauty, since their function is so superior. Socrates thereby wins the debate but ironically undercuts his own initial position! The novella is thus structured in parallel to the development of the classical tragedy: 5 "acts," beginning with an exposition, the "ascending action" laying out Aschenbach's role as a disciplined Apollinian artist, the culmination or denouement reached when he becomes acquainted with Tadzio, the descending action outlining Aschenbach's gradual succumbing to the enthrallment of Dionysian beauty, to love, intoxication, youth, the immoral; Aschenbach's self-abandonment and death.

Hypothesis : Death represents the tragedy of the Apollinian artist; the impossibility of a lifestyle, a creative ideology, or even a culture that is based on the principle of severe repression. In Freudian terms , Aschenbach represents the hostility of civilization to the life of the instincts and the irrepressibility of instinctual drives: Eros and Thanatos in league with one another as in Freud's theory of the instincts cause the tragic demise of Aschenbach.

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Aschenbach's heritage: father versus mother p. Freud and the death instinct, the death drive. See pp. The intrusion of the irrational, of longing, yearning, and death, into Aschenbach's Apollinian existence. See also his "dangling arms" at the end of chapter 4, when he confesses to Tadzio "I love you" p. The red-haired man at the cemetery Death Note the occurrence here of many prominent motifs: a.

Death in Venice-Gustav Mahler- Adagietto (from Symphony N°5)

The same traits recur here. The dandy on the boat ; 35 ; he prefigures Aschenbach's own dandyfication, his turn to "cosmetic" means to recapture his youth.

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Aschenbach's Dionysian vision and dream: -- The stranger at the cemetery calls forth a vision of a tropical landscape; primeval wilderness, with phallic palm trees, lush vegetation, a crouching tiger, terror, and an indescribable longing. They eventually relented when a gala premiere of Death in Venice was organized in London, with Elizabeth II and Princess Anne attending, to gather funds for the sinking Italian city.

Emotionally perhaps, and intellectually, I am disturbed by it - because I have some insight into what this kind of love is about. Almost all the crew were gay. The waiters at the club made me feel very uncomfortable. They looked at me uncompromisingly as if I was a nice meaty dish Film historian Lawrence J.

Media related to Morte a Venezia film at Wikimedia Commons. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Death in Venice Theatrical poster. The Guardian.

Retrieved Retrieved 7 May Retrieved 22 July Archived from the original on Films directed by Luchino Visconti. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. He gives rambling, portentous monologues about the nature of time. The people around him don the most extravagant fashions. Their plumaged hats alone would provoke envy in any arbiter of camp.

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The Terrifying Beauty in Visconti's 'Death in Venice' - PopMatters

The art the bourgeoisie produce is similarly degraded. Instead, they collected the works of painters like William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Bouguereau produced charming scenes of rustic villagers. His figures are all unnaturally cheerful. He often made facile allusions to other artists. They could celebrate the peasantry without worrying about their plight.

They could easily grasp the connections to Renaissance masterpieces and feel enlightened. His student encourages him to experiment, but Aschenbach produces music that he thinks his compatriots will like. He cannot be ambiguous. He may not be a good composer, but he is a successful one.

‘Death in Venice’ documents the decline of the bourgeoisie

Although Visconti came from the upper echelon of Italian society, in contrast to his protagonist, he did not possess bourgeois taste. While his forebears had ruled Milan during the Renaissance, Visconti was not concerned with his heritage, just the here and now. Preoccupied with the plight of the lower classes, he joined the Italian Communist Party and became a lifelong Marxist.