Thursday, 11 December 2014

Film Review: Suspiria (1977)

Figure 1: Movie Poster

Suspiria (1977) is a film directed by Dario Argento it is a stereo typical horror/slasher which will forever stay in your mind. Although the film will stick with you forever its most certainly not for its narrative story line as its pretty poor like many other slashes before and after this time but the set and production design is what stands out. The story is about a young American ballet student  called Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) who has come from New York to a European ballet academy where she is forced to stay and live in the academy by a series of unfortunate events. After Suzies arrival a couple of unexplainable murders had occurred paired with Suzies suspicions of the teachers never leaving the school Suzy begins to investigate and discovers that the teachers and its staff are in fact witches.

Figure 2: A still shot showing Suspiria strong use-age of lighting to create atmosphere

The film puts the viewer on edge the whole way throughout the film from the clever production design and the chilling soundtrack which was produced by an Italian band called "Goblin". The scene in particular that stands out for production design is when the women is running away from the academy in the opening scene, Whilst you are watching this women fight her way through a forest in the torrential rain we also get to see flashes of colour making us think of blood being splattered. Jennie Kermode comments on t he film saying "This is horror shot with dazzling energy yet with the visual depth and acuity of a Renaissance painting. Those who doubt the artistic potential of the horror genre should be nailed down and made to watch it." (Kermode, 2008).

Figure 3: a shot showing the over usage of red

The key role in what saves this film from its awful acting and narrative story line is the cinematography and Argento's use of lighting to create a sense of atmosphere. The most dominate colour through the film is the brilliantly striking use of red throughout the film, from the lighting, the walls, to the opening death scene were the blood pouring out of the women's skull. Janet Maslin also agrees with statement by saying "Argento's methods make potentially stomach-turning material more interesting than it ought to be. Shooting on bold, very fake-looking sets, he uses bright primary colors and stark lines to create a campy, surreal atmosphere, and his distorted camera angles and crazy lighting turn out to be much more memorable than the carnage." (Maslin, 1977).

Figure 4: Still shot of the horrific opening scene.

Overall Suspiria is a brilliantly beautiful film with its over used but incredibly necessary use of the colour red, the film is very un-easy the whole way through which is quiet a strange feeling its like tasting something sweet but sour as there two opposites your don't want to look out of fear but you do want to look because of the stunning visuals. Jackson Buchanan sums up this film really well by saying "this unrelenting tale of the supernatural was - and likely still is - the closest a filmmaker has come to capturing a nightmare on film." (Buchanan, s.d.)

Illustration List

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J Kermode Eye for Film 2008:

J Maslin NY Times1977:

Buchanan all movie:

1 comment:

  1. Nice discussion around the use of colour :)

    See my previous comment on 'Repulsion' for other advice!