Suspiria remake

A remake of Suspiria, Dario Argento‘s gorgeous and dreamlike tale of witchcraft at a boarding school for dance, has been in the works for a very long time. For most of that period, David Gordon Green was planning to direct the film. He’s said his version was going to be “a very faithful, extremely elegant opera. I don’t mean musical opera, but it would be incredibly heightened music, and heightened and very operatic and elegant sets.”

When Green pulled away from the film, he did say that it would still be made, by “a great Italian director.” Now we know that he was talking about Luca Guadagnino, whose film I Am Love was released in 2009, and who has the new movie A Bigger Splash at the Venice Film Festival. Guadagnino, who was previously set to produce Green’s version, says Suspiria is next for him, and his version, he says, will be “very different.”

There’s always a lot of resistance to the idea of remaking Suspiria. (Which Argento is also reportedly helping turn into a TV series that is presumably unrelated to this film.)

The 1977 original is like few other movies, except those that consciously emulate it. Saturated with color, Suspiria moves with the internal logic of a dream. It’s not a film to think about, but one to fall into, to be smothered by. My concerns about a remake have to do with the fact that “dreamlike” isn’t a tone many people are able to capture, especially when working for a movie studio. Ryan Gosling’s Lost River is one recent example that got it right, and that movie very clearly bears an influence from Argento.

It had never occurred to me to think of the person behind I Am Love as a possible director for Suspiria, but now that it’s out there, I can imagine it. And it’s kind of appealing.

Guadagnino told Empire,

[Suspiria]… was a very indicative moment of growing up for me because I saw it when I was 14. I think it changed me forever. I was obsessed… through my adolescence. [My version] is going to be set in Berlin in 1977. It’s going to be about the mother and the concept of motherhood and about the uncompromising force of motherhood. It’s going to be about finding your inner voice. The title is very evocative on these grounds.

So, yes, “very different,” indeed. The “mother” he refers to there is presumably Mother Suspiriorum, aka Our Lady of Sighs, who is the witch in this movie. (Argento has made two more films, Inferno and Mother of Tears, which deal with the other two of the Three Mothers referenced in Argento’s inspiration ‘Suspiria de Profundis.’)

The director goes on to say,

The movie by Dario Argento was maybe a child of its own times. It’s very delicate; almost childish. I have a very strong interest in German literature and film, so I think [my] Suspiria will have to focus very strongly on that moment in history, in 1977, when Germany was divided and a new generation was claiming and asking to recognise the debt of guilt that forged the new Germany after the war against the fathers who wanted to deny the responsibility.

“Childish” is a good word; there are stories that Argento wanted to make the original film starring younger girls as the main character, but the distributor mandated older characters. The story says Argento kept the dialogue designed for 11-14 year-old girls, and elements of the set design made for younger actors, to overwhelm the cast.

At this point, the most grand aspect of this idea is that Guadagnino has made a couple films in a row with Tilda Swinton, and if one was going to cast a strange horror movie focusing on “the concept of motherhood,” then Swinton would seem like precisely the person you’d want in the movie. We’ll see what happens there. The casting will be announced “very soon,” says the director.

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