The relationship between the 1977 horror classic and its 2018 remake is an unusual case in Hollywood
The American film industry has always viewed remake production as a quick and easy way to cash in on an existing product. There are positive examples like what happened in 1956 when Hitchcock released a remake of his own 1934 film The Man Who Knew Too Much and the new version became, for all intents and purposes, the definitive version, no. only technically (because it had more modern technology than the 1930s version) and for having involved names like James Stewart and Doris Day.
But it has to be said that this style of film is more associated with disastrous cases, especially when it takes up a work considered classic and removes many of the elements that made it initially striking. A negative example now (and these have a lot) is director Rob Zombie’s vision for the 1978 movie Halloween. While John Carpenter’s original version has established itself as one of the greatest horror films of story due to the patience and subtlety with which The Michael Myers Menace is being constructed, the Zombie version throws everything into space and begins to appeal to graphic violence, fear jumps and more of violence.
Horror, by the way, is the genre that seems to prompt the production of remakes the most, especially those involving old movies. The results are generally disastrous and these revisited productions are relegated to oblivion. However, in 2018 there was one very unusual case in this segment, which was the Suspiria remake.
Also Read: Meet ‘Suspiria’ (1977), by Dario Argento, and the Mother’s Trilogy
“The Man Who Knew Too Much” is an example of a remake that has worked very well.
This is a work that dates from 1977 directed by Italian (and Brazilian on behalf of the mother) Dario Argento and written by him and Daria Nicolodi – freely inspired by the collection of Suspiria de Profundis created by the writer Thomas De Quincey in 1845. The plot The film follows aspiring professional dancer Suzy Bannion who moves to Freiburg, Germany after being accepted into a renowned dance company. The problems begin when Suzy comes to suspect that this institution is a facade to hide the actions of a group of witches capable of murdering anyone who gets in their way.
Suspiria is one of those films that immediately stands out, this for a first-time viewer, for its soundtrack (which is the first thing to happen even during the initial credits) and soon after for the set design. . The interior of the dance academy in Germany has distorted geometric shapes that resemble the scenes immortalized in German Expressionism films, at the same time that the color composition there is still very intense and vibrant, almost like s’ it was a kaleidoscope.
During the film, as the scenarios and situations vary, Argento plays a lot with light and colors; sometimes coming out of the stage with a completely bluish and silent color, another with it dark and sometimes lit by thunder or with very bright red lighting (as in the memorable scenario of the makeshift beds in the gym). Exceptional photography was the responsibility of Luciano Tovoli, considered one of the main filmmakers of Italian cinema.
In “Suspiria”, the colors have a very accentuated narrative importance
The iconic conductive music was composed by the Goblin group, who previously worked with Argento on Profondo Rosso and quickly became one of the most iconic and recognizable horror films with Halloween and Friday 13. Although the film is still around going on a very striking audiovisual impression by the aforementioned elements, paying a little more attention, it is obvious that the characters involved do not have so much development or that some appear at the beginning that they can have something more for history but then disappear.
That’s when 2018 arrives when director Luca Guadagnino brings his take on classic Italian horror to cinema. The filmmaker gained notoriety after the immense success of Call Me By Name – which automatically generated an interest and an expectation not normally seen in horror remakes.
On several occasions he has stated that he does not want to remake Suspiria scene by scene but rather to pay homage and he makes it clear immediately. Its version does not have the same visual intensity as that of 1977, on the contrary, the variety of colors in the scenarios seems quite gray or with a dark tone.
The 2018 version opts for a much more desaturated shade, almost consciously of this choice
With the exception of some surreal sequences in dreams, the rule seems to have been intentional fading of colors. The music composed by Thom Yorke has no differential, so it goes largely unnoticed (perhaps the only exception is the main track called Suspirium).
However, what this version lacks in audiovisual, it takes advantage of the script; not only work more closely with the inner workings of the witches coven (the relationship between them mainly) or a previous story for the protagonist to show how important it was for her to go to Germany, but also the weight that the social context has for the advancement of the plot.
The scenario makes the delicate situation in which the country finds itself very explicit; it is the 70s, Germany is still divided into west and east. In addition to the very high social tension due to the action of the far left armed factions (including all the subplot about the attacks of the RAF group and the imprisonment of activist Ulrike Meinhof are real).
The context of the period in which the film takes place has a very present weight throughout the plot and the characters
Therefore, the film doesn’t just bring its story to life only within the walls of the academy as Argento chose, but, interestingly, the academy (and the witches coven therefore) sounds like an extension of the main scenario that is Germany. This choice therefore has two effects: if on the one hand it reduces the mystery and the dark and fantastic tone of the original version, on the other hand it brings these characters and their stories closer to reality and, depending on who is looking, more easily identifiable. .
At the same time, the new version has some technical similarities to the original which, while not very flashy, create a feeling of equivalence. For example, in certain scenes where the director uses a sharp zoom in on a character’s face or in certain details of the scene; this technique was very popular in the 60s and 70s and was also sometimes used by Dario Argento in the original version.
It is these differences that separate Guadagnino’s vision from what has been done before and therefore make Suspiria 2018 an example that escapes the modus operandi of other remakes. They are still the same characters (with occasional additions) and the same general motto of the story but it is in the execution that certain rules change and with this make the experience something very different from that achieved in 1977.
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