The movie

The Most Beautiful Boy in the World

What the film shows is the corrosive effects of fame, especially of the sexualized variety, at an early age.

Length: 94 min
Country: Zweden
Language spoken: Engels, Zweeds, Frans, Japans, Italiaans
Language subtitles: Nederlands
Cast: Björn Andrésen (zichzelf)
Director: Kristina Lindström
Release date: 2021

Description

Italian director Luchino Visconti scoured the globe when looking for ‘the most beautiful boy in the world’ to embody the role of Tadzio, the 15-year-old focus of sickly composer Gustav von Aschenbach’s (Dirk Bogarde) obsession in Visconti’s adaptation of Thomas Mann’s ‘Death in Venice’ (1971). The angelic Björn Andrésen got the part–and spent the rest of his life paying for it. Kristina Lindstrom and Kristian Petri’s haunting documentary starts with images of Andrésen as he is today—in his late sixties, he is a bearded, dishevelled, and depressed—before flashing back to his time on the set in Venice. What the film shows is the corrosive effects of fame, especially of the sexualized variety, at an early age, and how worldwide recognition is no guarantee of happiness.

‘As a movie, “Death in Venice” was prose trying to be poetry, but Björn Andrésen truly looked like a human work of art. Tadzio is described in the novel as being like a god from Greek mythology—an ethereal statue of a boy, a figure out of dreams. And Andrésen, with his angelic features set off by a half-smile beneath a billowy burst of honey-blond hair, became that boy… [This is an] impressionistic, oddly heartfelt movie about beauty, stardom, adoration, exploitation, and loss. Oh, is it ever about loss…’—Owen Gleiberman, Variety

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