If you look up “movies released in 1977″ on Google, you’ll probably be just as amazed as I was at the amazing run of films that flickered to life on the screen 40 years ago. I’ve already been posting up about a few of them, and here’s another one: Dario Argento’s best-known film, Suspiria. The film tells the story of an American ballerina travelling to a prestigious dance academy in Munich before the weird, supernatural goings-on at the school begin to take hold.
The story of Suspiria isn’t as important as the outrageous stylistics that Argento puts on the screen. Here’s a bit about the inspirations behind the film’s unforgettable look which has turned it into a cult classic…
Suspiria is noteworthy for several stylistic flourishes that have become Argento trademarks. The film was made with anamorphic lenses. The production design and cinematography emphasize vivid primary colors, particularly red, creating a deliberately unrealistic, nightmarish setting, emphasized by the use of imbibition Technicolor prints. The imbibition process, used for The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, is much more vivid in its color rendition than emulsion-based release prints, therefore enhancing the nightmarish quality of the film. It was one of the final feature films to be processed in Technicolor.
The title and general concept of “The Three Mothers” came from Suspiria de Profundis, an uncredited inspiration for the film. There is a section in the book entitled “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow”. The piece asserts that just as there are three Fates and three Graces, there are three Sorrows: “Mater Lacrymarum, Our Lady of Tears”, “Mater Suspiriorum, Our Lady of Sighs” and “Mater Tenebrarum, Our Lady of Darkness”.
Scriptwriter Daria Nicolodi stated that Suspiria’s inspiration came from a tale her grandmother told her as a young child about a real life experience she had in an acting academy where she discovered “the teachers were teaching arts, but also black magic.” This story was later said by Argento to have been made up.
A remake of the film is due this year. That sounds really scary. Here’s the classic…