The script starts with the same premise as the original: a young American dancer named Susie finds herself drawn to a dance company that secretly houses a coven of witches. But while the original takes place in the small southwestern German city of Freiburg, Guadagnino’s version is set in a divided Cold War Berlin at a time when terror attacks from the far-left Baader-Meinhof Group have reached a fever pitch. So the young dancers’ dawning awareness about the true nature of the Markos Company is mirrored by their growing understanding of the compromised world they are entering.
“Moving the bulk of our story to Berlin during the tense final weeks of the Baader-Meinhof era meant we could situate the dance company right in the middle of a recent example of society’s battle with its addiction to fascism,” says Kajganich. “At the time, there was an anger rising up in Germany’s youth about what their parents and grandparents had perpetrated on Europe with the war, which the older generations had not yet fully understood — let alone taken responsibility for.”Guadagnino calls the story “a fable of a very specific time and place, where the past was so dark that it goes hand in hand with digging into the darkness of the self.” He adds that the film reflects the feminism that swept Europe in the 1970s “in the way we describe the archetypical figure of the witch and the way the movie showcases a variety of female characters and empowers and devictimizes the women.”
THE DREAM OF SUSPIRIA
Now, with his lifelong dream fully realized, Guadagnino (Director) hopes the film will have the same effect on others that Argento’s original had on him “I want people to see this movie and be impacted by it in a very unconscious way,” Guadagnino says. “I want them to think about who they are in relationship to their upbringing. I want people to reflect on their relationship with their mothers. And I want them to see the extreme power of women, who are so strong and motivated. They are not victims. They are complex, fantastic, disturbing, powerful, and sometimes evil.”Kajganich believes Guadagnino has succeeded in creating homage to a revered horror Classic that also takes viewers on a thrilling journey into uncharted cinematic territory. “Luca is a great humanist, and unafraid of exploring the darkness in people, but he is always, always ready to play,” says the writer. “This film is completely insane. It’s like a demented slumber party at Luca Guadagnino’s house. And you are all invited.”And if Guadagnino’s version inspires new filmmakers to revisit the tale of this occultist dance company decades from now, Swinton is all for it. “Wouldn’t it be cool if one day, somebody might be inspired to imagine a ‘cover’ of what we have made?” “It is a lovely thought.”
THE PATH TO SUSPIRIA
Italian producer Marco Morabito worked alongside Guadagnino for more than 10 years to help him realize his long-held vision. “Suspiria and I Am Love” were the first projects we decided to develop as we started working together a long time ago,” he says. “It took more than a year just to get the remake rights. It was Luca’s obsession that pushed us not to give up.”The film is also produced by Brad Fischer, whose credits include such auteur-driven genre films as Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island, David Fincher’s Zodiac and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.“It is a wonderful twist of fate that we were able to make a film like this in Hollywood today ,”Fischer says, “and the credit for that belongs both to Luca as well as the team at K. Period and Amazon — Ted Hope and Scott Foundas in particular — whose support for visionary filmmakers is really what made it possible.” To pen the script, Guadagnino hired American writer David Kajganich, who also wrote the director’s 2015 drama A Bigger Splash, a reimagining of the 1969 French film La piscine (The Swimming Pool) starring Swinton and Dakota Johnson. Kajganich remembers the jolt of seeing Argento’s Suspiria for the first time. “It’s like being dragged into a lava lamp by a lunatic and stabbed to death,” he laughs. “It’s upsetting. It’s perplexing. I remember being struck by how the film’s absence of story logic — its opposition to logic, really — didn’t detract from many people’s experience of watching it. It hits people like a fever dream. I have friends for whom Argento’s Suspiria trumps all other horror films. And given the complexity and depth in that canon, I think that’s quite an achievement.”
See the movie at Movies @ Dundrum from November 16th.