A film analysis of Dario Argento's Suspiria
english edition / film analysis
Suspiria is a 1977 Italian supernatural horror film directed by Dario Argento, who co-wrote the screenplay with Daria Nicolodi, partially based on Thomas De Quincey's 1845 essay Suspiria de Profundis. The film stars Jessica Harper as an American ballet student who transfers to a prestigious dance academy in Germany but realizes, after a series of brutal murders, that the academy is a front for a supernatural conspiracy.
“The process of writing and directing drives you to such extremes that it’s natural to feel an affinity with insanity. I approach that madness as something dangerous and I’m afraid, but also I want to go to it, to see what’s there, to embrace it. I don’t know why but I’m drawn.” - D. Argento
Born into a family that breathed cinema, even as a child Dario Argento was a voracious devourer of books and films. Bored by school so much that he fled to Paris, the young Dario discovered he felt at ease only in the darkness of a cinema – where he found fertile soil in which his solitary nature and overflowing imagination could flourish. But it was his experience as a journalist at Paese Sera that turned out to be his formative training ground, and which led to his life-changing encounter with Sergio Leone, for whom he and Bernardo Bertolucci wrote the script for Once Upon a Time in the West.
Meanwhile, the mind of the future director developed a desire as ambitious as it was magnificent: to make a film in a new style, distinct from all others. Channelling the emotions he felt whilst watching the films of Hitchcock, Lang and Antonioni triggered a wealth of ideas that were destined to change the history of genre cinema.
His first film came out in 1970 – The Bird with the Crystal Plumage– grossing far in excess of a billion lire. In no time at all the name of Dario Argento was known across the globe. And soon enough a series of classic films including Deep Red and Suspiria saw the light of the projector beam.
Dario Argento is a maverick auteur who managed to capture his personal demons on celluloid. At last, his fascinating life story can be told: his passions, his loves, his fears. In this candid autobiography, alongside the tale of an inspirational film director making his mark on the world, one glimpses the anxieties of a driven but shy man, in love with cinema and life itself.
Neil Young is a film-critic and curator/programmer based mainly in Sunderland (UK) and Vienna. His reviews and festival reports appear regularly in The Hollywood Reporter, Sight & Sound, Tribune (London), MUBI Notebook and other international outlets. Formerly director of the Bradford International Film Festival (2011-15), he works as a consultant advising several European film-festivals including the Viennale.
The screening will be held in English and it will last about 170 minutes (the screening will be stopped several times, in order to analyse selected scenes in more detail). The analysis will be held in English without translation.