It was a face that launched a thousand fanatics – Björn Andrésen was dubbed “the most beautiful boy in the world” by director Luchino Visconti, who had scoured Europe in search of the perfect Tadzio for his adaptation of Thomas Mann’s short story Death in Venice.

Andrésen’s waves of flaxen hair, dark eyes and prominent cheekbones captivated an audience across the world, from arthouse cinema lovers to Japanese manga artists, who saw him as the embodiment of “bishōnen”.

This film by Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri offers a particularly moving insight into Andrésen’s personal history of tragedy and the trauma inflicted by such a limelight in his youth, a documentary piece that inspires real affection for its subject and exposes the ways abuse can be easily inflicted in stardom.

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Further reading

“Bogarde is exactly ripe for this role”: on the set of Visconti’s Death in Venice

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Luchino Visconti’s adaptation of Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, we republish this report from our Autumn 1970 issue in which Margaret Hinxman visits the film’s set and talks to its star Dirk Bogarde.

By Margaret Hinxman

“Bogarde is exactly ripe for this role”: on the set of Visconti’s Death in Venice