Sunday, January 31st, 2021

The Most Beautiful Boy In The World …….all grown up


At the  end of the 1960’s  the openly gay famed Italian opera and movie director Luchino Visconti was finally ready to film his take on Thomas Mann’ s novella Death In Venice.   The story is of  an elderly composer who  travels to Venice for health reasons where he  becomes obsessed with the stunning beauty of an adolescent Polish boy.  With queer British actor Dirk Bogarde already cast as Gustav von Aschenbach (the composer) Visconti started flying all over Europe to find his perfect Tadzio.

When he landed in Sweden the fifth boy through the Casting Door was 15th year old Björn Andrésen and Visconti knew immediately the search was finally . 

The very bemused Andrésen arrived in Venice to shoot the film accompanied by his very pushy grandmother, an archetypal ‘stage mother’.  Visconti warned his totally homosexual crew to keep their hands off the young star, he was off limits to everyone.  Although Andrésen now recounts scant detail of one night in a gay bar in Venice where he got very drunk.

Visconti had made the movie with much more homosexual overtones  than the novel, so much so his Studio wanted to shelf the whole thing,  However after they landed a World Premiere in London in the presence of HM The Queen and Princess Anne, they allowed the movie to open the Cannes Film Festival.

The crowd there went mad for both the movie and Andrésen its brand new star,  It was there in one of the many Press Conferences  that Visconiti dubbed his protege ‘the most beautiful boy in the world’ a title that still haunts Andrésen even now.  This was the Swede’s moment in the sun but as Visconti had signed him up to a 3 year contract, instead of being able to accept new movie offers he sent the foreseeable future traveling the world promoting Death In Venice.

Now some 50 years later the largely forgotten Andrésen is the subject of documentary of his life’s journey since then.  He is a sad looking embittered old man that is fighting eviction from his squalid apartment in Stockholm.   After years of alcoholism,   there is no sign of his former beauty in his gaunt face and his long unkempt hair.

Filmmaker’s Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri let  Andrésen recount his story of finding himself at a complete loss and unprepared for when his moment in the spotlight dissipated.  Married at the age of 30, Andrésen still holds himself responsible for the death of his  baby son who died of infant death syndrome as he laid beside him passed out drunk.  But that is seemingly the one thing in the past 50 years that he holds himself accountable, he wants is to believe that the rest is down to all the different people throughout who manipulated him  

The filmmakers took him back to parts of the world where he enjoyed his fame, not just Venice but to Japan who had made him into a major teenage idol.  It gave them  footage for this documentary but any significance  of these memories hardly seemed to register with Andrésen himself. 

They also wasted opportunities to question him further, when he threw ii anecdotes that begged explanations.  Like the whole year he spent in Paris as a kept young man for an old gay business  man allegedly to discuss a film that never materialized.

Now getting the occasional acting role in B movies which sometimes do not even list him in the credits, he seems lost with little purpose in life.  Beyond trying to track down the story of his parents who abandoned him at an early age that is, and even now he is is still unable to identify who his father was. 

In the end Andrésen never really acknowledges how he really feels about how  his discovery by Visconti re-shapened his life, but we can make out own assumptions based on this film which promised more than it could deliver



Posted by queerguru  at  14:08

Genres:  documentary

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