Precious_Films’s review published on Letterboxd:
Controversial opinion here, Suspiria (2018), is one of the best remakes. I adore the original 1977 version, as Luca himself did while growing up. Many complain that the soul of the original is nowhere to be found, I’d say in some ways that’s correct. Long gone is the heightened color scheme of the original. Long gone is the Goblin score. These essential pieces are missing, yet the core aspect of the film, the narrative, is very much present.
The 2018 version takes the loose narrative of the original, incorporates it into its own, and expands upon it. The film still takes place in 1977. The film still revolves around a coven of witches who run a dance academy. Those elements are there, however, they’re examined closely, adding political intrigue and power dynamics to the script by setting it near the Berlin Wall during the German Autumn of 1977. Here, the dance academy is centered in the midst of a war between the RAF and the German government. From what I understand of the situation, some of the workers within the government held occupations within the Nazi army previously. The older generation of that time seemed content, yet the younger generation rebelled, thus the creation of RAF and numerous terrorist attacks and threats. Here, we see a power struggle between the people and authoritative figures. This dynamic is thoroughly used to explain the internal struggle of the dance academy and it’s leaders.
The story explores themes such as following blind leaders, oppression, breaking free from being tethered, rebellion, and loss. These are all relevant to the political landscape we find ourselves in during 1977 in Germany. Many argue that Dr. Kemplerer’s scenes should be cut out, I’d argue they’re integral in many ways. The Dr. represents the older generation of Germany in that time. As mentioned, the older generation seemed content with the current state of the government before the rebellion, even though they were the ones who went through the Nazi era. Kemplerer represents this generation in many ways. “He’s” seen as a hopeful character who has lived through trauma uninhabited by younger generations. “He’s” forgiving of authoritative figures who have failed “him” time and time again. He relives a daily routine clouded in darkness. “He’s” a sympathetic character and represents the heart of the film. In the end, flash forward to modern times, “his” presence is still felt and “his” memories are still embedded in what “he” used to call home. This gets me thinking about the short time we live on this earth and the footprints we leave behind to prove we existed at one point. We become apart of the past, something overlooked by many, but we were there.
As for other aspects, I loved the incorporation of “Volk” within the film. Volk, in many ways, represents the people. Volk, as a dance, is violent and depicts the struggle to untether from the forces keeping you down, as are the people in 1977. The Berlin Wall itself represents the division between parties, the witches and dancers. The third act contains one of the more satisfying twists in my eyes and the resolution is something to be seen. The prologue scene gets me every time, never failing to garner a few tears from me. Thom Yorke’s soundtrack for the film is absolutely euphoric, often being played on repeat to this day. The cinematography is great, incorporating 70s techniques, yet finding a way to be modern. The desaturation of the color palette is different from the original but very much integral to the mood of the film. Lastly, the respect to practical effects is notable, as most were done in camera. Olga’s death scene in particular is a great example of this as most of it was practical.
I could talk about this movie for days, these are just my few points on the film. It’s just refreshing to watch a remake that finds its own personality and warrants a reason for existing as opposed to most remakes these days. Truly a unique experience, one I’d encourage you to check out.