Björn Johan Andrésen is a Swedish actor and musician idealized as 14-year-old Tadzio in Luchino Visconti’s 1971 film adaptation of the Thomas Mann novella “Death in Venice.” Watch it if only for the fabulous opening scene with Mahler’s 5th playing. In the film, Björn embodies an ideal of beauty that the avant-garde composer Gustave Aschenbach (loosely based on Gustav Mahler) has long sought to capture through music. The pedophile with mustache (pedostache) spends most of the movie staring at the boy, infatuated.
“Beauty is something that no language can describe as it is found in the eye of the beholder,” writes Shelley Xie in Beijing Today. “But there is little universal doubt that Björn Andrésen is beauty personified. But what most see as nature’s random blessing has brought great pain to a man who was once arguably the most beautiful man in the world. People are enchanted at the first sighting of his amazing, beautiful face – both men and women. He was dubbed ‘the most beautiful boy in the world’ after he appeared in the movie ‘Death in Venice’ thirty-odd years ago. But he was camera shy and he rarely appeared in the media, creating an air of mystery about his looks and his life. This Adonis was born on January 26, 1955, in Stockholm, Sweden, out of wedlock, and was never thereafter to learn the identity of his father. He was raised by his grandparents. In the year of his birth, his mother married a Norwegian man and divorced him four years later. Then, in 1965, she disappeared and was later discovered to have committed suicide.
“… After the role of Tadzio, his career as a boy actor declined due to mismanagement by his agent. Like many high school boys of his age, he had aspirations of founding a rock band. Later, as a classically trained musician, he was responsible for the musical arrangements of a Swedish stage production of The Rocky Horror Show, and he played John Lennon in a short-lived show about The Beatles. In 1978, he performed in the Swedish movie Bluff Stop. But nothing worked for him, and he had become a virtual has-been by his twenties. When he was thirty, he acted in King of Smugglers (Denmark/Sweden) and five years after in Lucifer-Indian Summer: Yellow and Black (Norway). However, both movies failed to make a universal impact. Tragedy has trailed him. He lost one of his children and as a result, his happy marriage broke up, though he has been reunited with his wife and daughter.
“Now entering his fifties, his face has appeared again on the cover page of ‘The Real Tadzio: Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice and the Boy Who Inspire’ – a book by Gilbert Adair. His face is also on the front cover of ‘The Boy’ by Germaine Greer. Perhaps it takes a beautiful person in this cosmetic world to offer a cautionary tale to those who seek eternal youth and good looks… ”One of the diseases of the world is that we associate beauty with youth,” said Björn. “We are wrong. The eyes and the face are the window of the soul and these become more beautiful with the age and pain that life brings. True ugliness comes only from having a black heart”.
Shelley Xie | Beijing Today, 26.08.2005 | [http://bjtoday.ynet.com/] [Nella foto: Björn Andrésen]