At last, I saw this documentary at the film festival Film by the Sea in Vlissingen/Flushing (in the province Zeeland in Holland), place of birth of Michiel de Ruyter. It was announced that Björn Andresen would be present on September 13th, so I did not hesitate to order a ticket for that day.
Waiting in the train station, yesterday morning, i felt a bit like professor Aschenbach, returning to the Lido again, after having regretted his departure from Venice. After all, Börn played a special part (double meaning) in the lives of boylovers who saw the movie 'Death in Venice', one of the masterpieces in Visconti's trilogy ('The Damned', 'Death in Venice' and 'Ludwig'). Seeing Björn, the icon, in the flesh, would be even more sensational than seeing some famous pop star performing live, in my case anyway.
Apart from feeling like Aschenbach, there are also some similarities between Venice and Vlissingen. Both are towns at sea, their names start with a V and the two of them have a film festival. After a two hour journey I arrived in beautiful weather. It was warm and the sun was shining constantly. I followed the signs with CINEMA on them and ended up, not far from the boulevard, at the cinema Cinecity.
Just before entering the hall where the documentary would be shown, I heard someone say, 'What a pity!' after having discussed something with a festival employee. And indeed, what I had expected, was worded by the presenter of the movie, who told that Björn had called off his appointment and that they did not want to push him, since he had been pushed so much in his life. So, no chance for me to film Björn or to take pictures of him.
Nevertheless, I had the feeling that he was there, in this hall in Flushing, when seeing the movie. The screen was very wide, occupying the whole frontwall, so Björn could be seen bigger than life. Not only in his present state - with beard and wrinkled skin, but with an unaltered charming smile - but also as a boy, going through different life stages, from baby boy to adolescent, on photos from his sister's album and on film.
You see very realistic scenes of an aged man, who was once called 'the most beautiful boy in the world' by Visconti, in his apartment in Stockholm, dealing with his lady friend, who is like a mother to him, bathing in a swimmingpool and looking at papers which prove that his mother was found dead in a park when Björn was 12 years old. He was brought up by his grandmother, who wanted him to be famous and thus stimulated him to do an audition for Visconti, who was looking for his Tadzio. There are flashbacks to the time that Björn had a lot of fun making the movie. He had a nanny, who looked after him and took care that he made his homework.
The documentary focuses on the exploitation of child stars in general and of Björn in particular. It was in the period after the release of the movie that the beautiful, 17-year-old boy got in trouble, when homosexuals began to pay him for his presence. He also hated it to be called 'the most beautiful boy in the world'.
But the most difficult period in his life was when he and his wife lost a child. He started drinking and saw no reason to live anymore. Eventually, he started acting again. He seems rather happy now as an actor and a musician.
I think that Björn's real presence in Flushing would not have added much to the documentary. I can imagine that he did not want to be confronted with painful questions about the past.
I wonder if he realizes that he made a terrfiic contribution to the history of cinema by his acting and that he made such a big impression on us, boylovers.
When I left the cinema, I had the feeling that I had had a long talk with a soul mate, who had also told me something new: that he was studying The Teachings of Jesus.