A fly-on-the-wall documentary by Swedish filmmakers Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri, The Most Beautiful Boy in the World details the life of Björn Andrésen, who 50 years ago was plucked from obscurity to star as young Tadzio in Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice.

Actual footage of Andrésen’s audition is featured, showing the exact moment he walks in unaware that his life is about to change forever. Visconti is instantly mesmerised by his beauty, intensely scrutinizing every inch of him, ordering him to remove his top, which the 15-year-old awkwardly obeys. A domineering figure, Visconti isn’t the slightest bit concerned about the boy’s well-being, even ridiculing him at points, offering no protection from the perils of ensuing fame.

What follows is an extraordinary existence of being invited to places around the world by rich older men who want to possess him like a trophy, or trips to Japan where he is treated like a god – recording pop songs, appearing in TV commercials, becoming a muse for manga animation for generations to come. Yet the whole time, it is revealed that Andrésen was suffering.

Strikingly tall with a skinny frame, unkempt with long grey locks and beard, Andrésen at 60-something is demure and soft-spoken. And he is still acting; we are privy to on-set scenes of him in Ari Aster’s Midsommar. The focus is on him reminiscing his life pre/post Death In Venice, and through conversations emerges a forlorn picture of an encumbered life, tarnished by devastating familial incidents.

There’s a poignant scene of Andrésen swimming in lush Victorian style baths, his voice-over recanting a personal tragedy; even in Swedish his words feel heavy and defeated, the frame is hazy and misty, sound-tracked by sombre synths; his grief is palatable. If utterly sad, it’s still incredibly immersive, a quality that reverberates throughout, a testament to Lindström and Petri’s directorial talents.



CAST: Annike Andrésen, Bjorn Andrésen, Silva Filmer 

DIRECTORS: Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri

WRITERSKristina Lindström, Kristian Petri

SYNOPSIS: In 1971, due to the world premiere of Death in Venice, Italian director Lucino Visconti proclaimed his Tadzio as the world’s most beautiful boy. A shadow that today, 50 years later, weighs Björn Andresen’s life.