DANCERS IN THE DARK
Luca guadagnino’s “cover version” of suspiria wants to put you under its spell...
Remakes are hard to pull off – especially when they’re based on films as iconic as Suspiria. Oscarnominated director Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name) was undeterred however. he’s been planning to remake dario argento’s horror classic for a very long time it turns out.
Guadagnino first crossed paths with the film when he was just 10 years old and saw its striking poster. “I didn’t know what it was about, but the image was so powerful,” Guadagnino says. “That’s how I discovered Suspiria, and it forged one of my primary identities, both as a filmmaker and a man.” It would be another three years before he got to see the film.
The plot remains largely the same as the original. susie (dakota Johnson) joins a prestigious dance company in 1970s Germany, quickly growing close to the mysterious madame Blanc (Tilda swinton). her rise, however, seems to precipitate sinister events and another dancer accuses the group’s “mothers” of being witches.
although she hadn’t seen the original when she was cast, Johnson was immediately attracted to the project. “I love dance movies, I love movies about women and the push and pull between them, and I love films about witchcraft,” she says. she found the incredible choreography punishing, however, with one particular scene ending with the actress in hospital. “I threw my back out really badly... I felt like I had tossed my torso from my legs. It’s not delicate work … you’re being really rough with yourself, and behaving like a professional dancer when you’re not.”
While the story remains the same, the look and feel have evolved into something very different. Where the original was set in Freiburg, the new film
moves the action to bustling Berlin, still feeling the after-effects of the second World War. For that reason, argento’s psychedelic colour palette has been swapped for more muted visuals that owes a debt to German cinema of the period. Likewise, the spine-tingling score by Goblin is gone, replaced by a soundtrack from radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
Tilda swinton says the effect of all these changes is akin to a “cover version” of the original. “as we know in music, covers often sound very different from the original song,” she says. The new Suspiria isn’t intended to replace the original, however – it never could. Instead, swinton insists, Guadagnino’s desire to make the film “comes out of a deep affection for argento’s classic.”
Riverdance is a lot edgier than it used to be.