Världens vackraste pojke
Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri
Tadzio’s accursedly beautiful face evokes the sublime grace of ancient Greek sculptures, writes Thomas Mann. In 1970, in preparation for the screen adaptation of “Death in Venice”, director Luchino Visconti travelled to several European countries in search of this “face”. He found the transcendent beauty he was looking for in a boy with eyes the colour of the grey waters of the canals in Venice, at a casting in Sweden. The shy Björn Andrésen was 15 years old at the time. At the film’s premiere in London in 1971, Visconti calls Björn the most beautiful boy in the world, idolising him in the same way that the film’s protagonist, Gustav von Aschenbach does Tadzio. Half a century after the film was made, the greying Björn still lives in Stockholm and carries a few film roles, depression and the burden of trauma with him.
This cinematic portrait by Swedish documentary directors and and journalists Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri is a melancholic close-up of the trauma that can come with fame, of exploitation and self-acceptance. It can be seen as a symphony of a betrayed childhood as the grey-haired boy searches for his parents. The teenaged Björn Andrésen, with his innocently boyish looks and blonde curls, was instantly desired, became a queer icon, got his own anime comic and global recognition. However, when Björn grew older, Visconti, an aristocrat who didn’t hide his homosexuality, spurned his one-time favourite at a press conference during the Cannes Film Festival. His sensual, adolescent Apollonian beauty had faded.