The controversial Suspiria remake
"This isn't a dream! This is REALLY happening!"
— Mia Farrow, Rosemary's Baby
Sometimes a subject can be so fueled with deep, divisive, and passionate feelings that it becomes the “ I don’t want to touch that with a ten-foot pole” discussion. You’d rather walk out of the room or drive to the next state than comment on it. . For the average person in America that “ten-foot-pole” might be having certain political conversations on Facebook - the kind you have to create private online groups just to vent your true feelings. For fans of the 1977 horror film masterpiece Suspiria, the rumor of a remake has become a reality, and many of us just want to cover our eyes and ears and pretend it isn’t happening.
I think it’s fair to say that for the fans of Suspiria,
the reaction to a remake is emotional, straight from the gut,
and possibly irrational.
We’ve had several years of rumors that a remake of Suspiria was definitely going to happen. Discussions of a remake in various forms have been tossed around for nine years. In 2008 David Gordon Green was set to direct a remake, which was met with hostility by fans and the films’ original director Dario Argento.
You either love Suspiria or you hate it. It’s an all or nothing movie, but for those who love Suspiria, it’s a life changing film.
In August 2008, the Bloody Disgusting website reported that Natalie Portman and Annette Savitch's Handsome Charlie Films were set to produce the remake and that Portman would play the lead role. After a period of no news in which it was thought that the remake attempt had failed, Green stated in August, 2011, that he was again trying to remake the film It was announced on 15 May 2012 that actress Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan, The Hunger Games) would play the lead role. In late 2012, the planned remake was put on hold. In January 2013, Gordon Green revealed that it may never happen due to legal issues. In April 2014, Green admitted the remake was too expensive to make during the "found footage boom". It is very likely that it will not be made.
Let me pause here and say that, at this point, in 2014, Suspiria fans breathed a sigh of relief. We really thought, “maybe this is the last of it, and the film will be allowed to just endure as the great work of inspired art that it truly is.” However, in September of 2015, very concrete plans to remake Suspiria were announced.
In September 2015, filmmaker Luca Guadagnino announced at the 72nd Venice Film Festival that he intends to direct the remake, with the intention of using the cast of his film A Bigger Splash (Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes and Dakota Johnson). Guadagnino will set his version in Berlin circa 1977, running in accordance with the release year of Argento’s film and making a slight location shift, and in this iteration focus on "the concept of motherhood and about the uncompromising force of motherhood."
I think it’s fair to say that for the fans of Suspiria, the reaction to a remake is emotional, straight from the gut, and possibly irrational. You either love Suspiria or you hate it. It’s an all or nothing movie, but for those who love Suspiria, it’s a life changing film. Suspiria is also the product of a time and a place: a director at the height of his creativity; a cinematographer who had the brilliance and inventiveness to know how to make the shots and the colors intense, immersive, and so primal they stand on their own as the presence of evil in the film. Suspiria began as a tale Argento’s long-time partner Daria Nicolodi told him about her own grandmother’s experience at
a music school. Daria told her story to Argento;, the planets aligned; and horror history was made. You can’t recreate this kind of inspired film-making.
In the next several entries of this blog I’d like to try to record the feelings of fans in both camps — the fans that are open to seeing the “new” Suspiria and those, like myself, who can’t bring ourselves to be open to the idea at all. I also want to touch on some of the history and art direction of the original film, the two different directors, and see if we can, at the very least, provide a little understanding of our “irrational” love for this film. In the meantime, if you need some film therapy and can snag a ticket, Metrograph in New York City will be screening an uncut Italian print of the film, supposedly never before seen in American theaters.
.Feel free to leave comments on your thoughts and feelings on the reboot of Suspiria in the comments section below.