Film Review - Suspiria

Release date - 1977
Director - Dario Argento 
Genre - Mystery, Horror, Thriller.

Suzy Bannion is a new student from the United States travelling to Germany to join an exclusive ballet academy, when her plane arrives at the airport late at night she notices as she approaches the door to outside that there is a severe storm. She is absolutely drenched by the time a taxi finally stops to pick her up and the driver will not even help her with her bags. The cab driver proceeds to be extremely rude to her, clearly not pleased with her incorrect pronunciation of her intended destination. When Suzy arrives at the school and is almost knocked down by a young woman dashing out into the rain and wind. The woman looks terrified and is saying something to an unknown person just inside the door before racing off. The young fleeing woman did not leave the door open for her and the voice on the other side of the intercom refuses to allow her entry. Tired and soaked, Suzy returns to her taxi and is driven to a hotel for the night. So begins the nightmare that is Suspiria.

The setting for the highly stylised nightmare is an exclusive ballet academy in Germany, A rather bizarre charlatan of a building, bathed in a violent red, the building seems torn directly from Argento's own imagination, however it is in fact an actual location, Haus Zum Walfisch (Whale House) in Freiburg, Germany. Everything about this space is over the top, the architecture of the academy, the vibrant colour scheme and the almost slap-dash madness of the building's layout. Seen in figure 2 and 3 the dramatic colour scheme.

Exterior shot of the academy 


The cinematography is truly wonderful, and still has some of the best uses of colour in film history,
The scene where all the characters have to sleep downstairs together is the most memorable, with the red lighting found throughout the room. All of the murder sequences feature a rush of brilliant red, yellow, and blue colours.

Girls sleeping downstairs with dramatic backdrop.

Undoubtedly the most striking element in this film is the use of colour. Colour which at once saturates and overwhelms the audience, not a single shot is free of its heavily stylised use. Reds, the most prominent of the film’s colours warn us of impending doom, softer lavender and blue colours steep the frames in their ominous glow. Indeed, it is the colours and the image that dominate this film, carrying the audience beyond the narrative. Jesse M makes a point about the colours and how Argento uses them, "Those reds and blues become some of Argento's most powerful tools. Over the course of the film, he turns the reds and blues into puppet strings for our emotional responses, and then he delights in pulling them, left and right, red and blue, forcing us to do a psychological dance." (J.M, 2010)

The film's music creates a state of irrational anxiety. Goblin's music is just as important to Suspiria as the stylized imagery, despite the fact that the band composed the music before seeing the film. The music just fits perfectly, becoming inseparable from the bright, creepy images. The chimes and bells of the main theme, which reappears frequently, is often joined by whispery chanting. The word "witch" is whispered in the music long before any of the characters actually say it, which makes it seem like the music is foreshadowing the film's plot with their haunting music. Again i take note from Linda Schulte-Sasse when she too talks about the music and how the sound is so brilliant it even affects the time when there is none "Moreover, the power of the soundtrack makes silent passages in the film all the more tense, all the more silent." (Schulte-Sasse, .N.D.)

Suspiria is considered by many to be the best work ever by Dario Argento, One of those people may be Linda Schulte-Sasse commenting,"Dario Argento has been called the "Italian Hitchcock" and the "Visconti of Violence."" (Schulte-Sasse, .N.D.). The use of lighting, camera angles, close-up and music, performed by The Goblins with input from Argento himself, create a sinister and surreal shroud of dread and angst. The secret purpose of the school and everyone employed there develops slowly before building to climax of intensity and sheer horror.

Bibliography - 

M, Jesse. (2010) 'Chromatic March analysis: Suspiria (1977)' From: Suspiria 
In: http://benefitofthedoubt.miksimum.com 03.12.10 [Online] 
At: http://benefitofthedoubt.miksimum.com/2010/03/chromatic-march-analysis-suspiria-1977.html
(Accessed on 8.12.14)

Schulte-Sasse, Linda (N.D) 'The "mother" of all horror movies' From: Suspiria
In:http://www.kinoeye.org [Online]
At: http://www.kinoeye.org/02/11/schultesasse11.php (Accessed on 8.12.14)

Illustration List - 

Figure 1. Suspiria film poster (1977) From: Suspiria
Directed By: Dario Argento [Film Poster] Italy: Seda Spettacoli At: http://joshhollis.com

Figure 2. Suspiria film still (1977) From: Suspiria Directed By: Dario Argento [Film still] 
Italy: Seda Spettacoli At: http://cdn-static.denofgeek.com

Figure 3. Suspiria Interior still (1977) From: Suspiria Directed By: Dario Argento [Film still] 
Italy: Seda Spettacoli At: http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/hdcaptures/suspiria04.jpg

Figure 4. uspiria Interior still (1977) From: Suspiria Directed By: Dario Argento [Film still] 
Italy: Seda Spettacoli At: http://3.bp.blogspot.com

1 comment:

  1. Very good, Becky :)

    Just make sure that your font is consistent in your bibliography...