Home » film » Dirk Bogarde: Gone but I shall Never Forget Him

Dirk Bogarde: Gone but I shall Never Forget Him

In my previous post I reviewed the novella, Death in Venice and feel that no discussion of the book is complete, without reference to the extraordinary film version. Upon first viewing, Visconti’s (1971) masterpiece, ensnared me in a mist of visual eloquence. Transported by the narrative, I entered a realm which suggested, behind a veneer of bourgeois respectability, the presence of decay. Fundamental to the portrayal of this, was the performance of Dirk Bogarde as the central character, a man in search of an ideal.
In a career defining performance, Bogarde chilled the screen with his icy presence and projected meaning in subtle facial expressions. A face, which had once graced the bedroom walls of the hearts of 1950’s British teens, had become distorted by the ravages of age and interpretations of desires, which did not speak their names. Dirk Bogarde had matured from matinee idol into middle-aged master of menace and finally, metamorphosed into an old man of European art house cinema and an interpreter of directorial dreams. He had become a hallucination which was 100 per cent real. A hallucination of his own feelings; the reality of the man hidden behind the propaganda of his acting career.
Until his death in 1999, Bogarde publicly denied his homosexuality. In private, his shared his life with his long-term male partner and manager. The world was naïvely fooled; gay people, however, had always known; the clues were not obscured but, were as apparent as the quiff he wore in, The Blue Lamp (1950), the first film, in which he appeared, which hinted at darkness behind his pretty façade. A façade which constituted more than indulgence; it was a necessary method to uphold a career in a society which, even in 2013, does not accept or want to watch films starring gay movie stars.
Society is an ass! Why has not the world accepted that not everyone is straight. Move away from your position peeping through closed curtains, go outside and embrace the nearest queen!


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