Suspiria ★★★★½

Dance, terrorism, simulation, ritual and media all coalesce to form a nexus governed by power— a specific sort of yearning for power that arises deep from the past, from the haunting atrocities of the second world war.

Suspiria is set in 1977 during the dense political events of the German Autumn, and is correspondingly characterized with muted, autumnal colours— faded burgundy, weak orange, dull brown, and flat grey. The palette of the film is held-back: a signal to repressed trauma, both of individuals and of nations. The film is viscerally somatic, engaging on a bodily level, yet it’s also immensely psychological, with reference to Lacan, his idea of the Mirror Stage, and Baudrillard’s idea of the “simulation.” While invoking these philosophical concepts, Suspiria also subtly critiques them. It suggests they might be inadequate against the reality of grief, pain, and power. And what emerges in its place is the sheer expressive and raw power of dance, of movement itself. The choreography of re-birth. The primal rhythm of breath. Absorption. Release.

I’ve expanded some of my thoughts into an in-depth comparison of Argento’s Suspiria and Guadagnino’s Suspiria (includes spoilers from both), exploring how they comment on the nature of simulation. You can check it out here.

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