In this adaptation of the Thomas Mann novel, avant-garde composer Gustav von Aschenbach (Sir Dirk Bogarde) travels to a Venetian seaside resort seeking repose after a period of artistic and personal stress. But he finds no peace there, for he soon develops a troubling attraction to Tadzio (Björn Andrésen), an adolescent on vacation with his family. The boy embodies an ideal of beauty that Aschenbach has long sought and he becomes infatuated. However, the onset of a deadly pestilence threatens them physically and represents the corruption that compromises and threatens all ideals.