The cult film that propelled actor Dirk Bogarde onto the international stage, Death in Venice, is still just as moving today, 50 years after its launch. I will not go into the summary of the film since we offer it for free on Gay Globe TV at Gayglobe.net, menu on the right “Classic cinema”, but I will rather talk about the actor, whom nobody knew, or almost, who ‘he was gay.
Dirk Bogarde, who was British, did not hide or lead a double life like many Hollywood actors, but he did not like to talk about this subject since in Britain at that time, the homosexuality was still criminalized and he could have been the subject of charges or even a prison sentence. As early as the 1940s, Bogarde shared his apartments and residences for many years with Anthony Forwood, a British actor, and despite persistent rumors, Bogarde kept saying that it was only a platonic relationship. Like many actors, he had to lead a low-key love life and that is probably what kept him from having a brighter American career. In 1987, her partner died of cancer when he himself suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed until his death in 1999.
It is in the film Death in Venice that the homosexuality of Bogarde is revealed, almost unwittingly, playing an old composer on the decline, a tourist in a Venice overwhelmed by cholera, and whose only comfort was young beauty. by Tadzio. In the end, he dies of cholera watching Tadzio’s smile fade. During the era of films like Bilitis or the Emmanuelle series, Death in Venice was regarded as a sort of daring cinematic « Dorian Gray », but thanks to Dirk Bogarde it has become a monument of great aesthetic value.
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Roger-Luc Chayer, editor
Gay Globe Group