(figure 1 – original poster)
“Suspiria” (1977) is a remarkable film in which the viewer is left breathless while watching the incredibly bold use of colour, sets and lighting in the movie directed by Dario Argento. Right at the very beginning the haunting soundtrack is gripping the attention and leaves everyone wanting to see how the story unfolds. Don Sumner states that: “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.” (Sumner, 2014)
There is something extremely odd while watching this gory-horror. It seems as if the actors were artificially put on the masterfully crafted sets, they look like they do not belong together. After the first ten minutes the viewer realises that the acting or even the story itself are not the strong points of the film, but the visual feast of colours, lights and sound are the tricks that draw on their attention. Adam Smith talks about this: “But in fact the plot, such as it is, is just a device to link a series of gloriously realised set-pieces.” (Smith, 2014)
(Figure 2 – Movie Still)
The ballet school in which the main actress Suzy (Jessica Harper) decides to improve on her dancing skills is menacing from the start (fig. 2). The loving effort in creating the sets and the endless symbols scattered around it, whisper to the viewer, suggesting that something is happening under the superficial beauty and no one can even guess where the story is heading until the very end. Ed Gonzalez discusses the set design: “An impressive manipulation of mise-en-scène lies in the film's door handles. In their higher than usual positions, the handles emphasize the youth and stature of the film's characters in relation to their grotesquely imposing doll house.” (Gonzalez, 2001)
(figure 3 – movie still)
Figure 3 is an example of the incredible use of light and colour. The Image portrays the end of the film where Suzy finally finds the hidden rooms of her ballet school. The letters and symbols give us a clue for the real purpose of the building and the actress is about to uncover that her teachers are actually a coven of witches.
In conclusion, “Suspiria” is gripping and unforgiving in its bold style, it dresses violence and gore with deep red velvet and presents it to us in a cruel but also awe-inspiring way.
Figure 1 - Chitwood, A. (2013). David Gordon Green Says His SUSPIRIA Movie Is in Limbo; Wants to Do 3 More PRINCE AVALANCHE Movies. [online] Collider. Available at: http://collider.com/david-gordon-green-suspiria-prince-avalanche-remakes/ [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].
Figure 2 - Whiggles.landofwhimsy.com, (2014). Land of Whimsy. [online] Available at: http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/archives/2009/03/suspiria_bd_initial_impression.html [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].
Figure 3 - Whiggles.landofwhimsy.com, (2014). Land of Whimsy. [online] Available at: http://whiggles.landofwhimsy.com/archives/2009/03/suspiria_bd_initial_impression.html [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].
Sumner, D. (2014). Suspiria blends (1977) Review. [online] Best-horror-movies.com. Available at: http://www.best-horror-movies.com/review?name=suspiria-1977-review [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].
Smith, A. (2014). Empireonline Reviews | Reviews | Empire. [online] empireonline.com. Available at: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132659 [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].
Gonzalez, E. (2001). Suspiria | Film Review | Slant Magazine. [online] Slant Magazine. Available at: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/suspiria [Accessed 4 Dec. 2014].