I went to performing art school for years. I know the work put into one’s craft and how sometimes it seems to possess us. So, I was curious about the remake of the cult movie Suspiria.
The Official Summary
Let’s take a look at the art of the horror movie Suspiria!
“Young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co. When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, the woman she replaces breaks down and accuses the company’s female directors of witchcraft.
Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist and a member of the troupe uncover dark and sinister secrets as they probe the depths of the studio’s hidden underground chambers.” — Google
A darkness swirls at the center of a world-renowned dance company, one that will engulf the artistic director, an ambitious young dancer, and a grieving psychotherapist. Some will succumb to the nightmare. Others will finally wake up. — IMDb
Susie Bannion is a young American ballerina who travels to Berlin to study dancing at Madame Blanc’s Markos Tanz Company, one of the world’s most renowned schools.
On her first day, one of the students who had been recently expelled from the school was murdered. As this appalling happening does not seem to be an isolated occurrence, the brilliant new student soon suspects that the school might be involved in the homicide.
Her mistrust heightens when Sarah, one of the girls at the school, tells her that before she was killed, Pat confided to her that she knew and guarded a terrifying secret. — IMDb
My View On The Remake Of Suspiria
First of all, I will never get the title right without looking it up! I’m French, and I always have the word “suplice” in my head, which means torture. However, the movie takes place in late 1970s—1977 to be exact—Germany when the people and politics started to stir, and Germany, I believe, was still divided, and the wall would still be up for about a decade, if not less.
Keeping true to the 70s, when the original movie took place, we have a retro filming tactic to encompass us in the timeline. The attention to detail in the wardrobe and overall furniture, color scheme and actors’ appearances are impressive. It is an Amazon Prime Studios movie, and it showed it meant business with this one!
The quality of the soundtrack and division of “Act” as if the movie were a live dance performance recital is impeccable. We are pulled into the world of dance at a very tough time for anyone. It is especially for our protagonist, Suzie, who moves from the United States of Ohio to Berlin to audition for the company.
I never watched the original. But I heard a lot about it and watched many bits and pieces. I could tell it was redone carefully. Apart from the ending, the movie follows the spine of the original in a polished way. This Suspiria is a work of art.
Are We Looking Black Swan Dance Perfection Or Not?
Dakota Johnson is the leading actor and protagonist of the movie. I knew Dakota from the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, and we all know where that ended! Because Suspiria is a movie revolving around dancing, I feared the worst.
My expectations were low, but I immediately paid attention to the camera angles and edits when she auditioned. After some research on the subject, because it is not always clear if it is her or not, Dakota says she did about ninety percent of the dance required. Let’s face it, someone else could have danced for her. However, we see Dakota perform from head to toe a few times.
As an ex-professional dancer, I had my doubts about specific movements that would require years of training. I also noticed the “lazy arms” instead of “ballet arms.” Sorry, I am French and went to French art performing school, so the terms are different.
I would say Dakota is not at Natalie Portman‘s level of dancing. For Black Swan, Natalie Portman had the world-renowned classical ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers as her tutor. However, Suspiria is more about interpretive dancing than ballet, but ballet is always the foundation. Like a house or building, if the foundation isn’t solid, it might crumble.
But Dakota did deliver a good performance in the movie. Also, I might add that the camera work was magnificent to support the actor in her work. After all, Dakota took tap, jazz, and ballet for ten years, from five to fifteen years old.
The Witches Of Suspiria
The dancing is the front of the company as the actual purpose is to hide witchcraft. I would say the witches are there for perfection in the performing arts since they use a dancing company to hide. There are three mothers among the coven that votes for them. We understand soon enough that there is reincarnation or rebirth at work.
Mother Blanc is the main one despite the name Markos surfacing a lot during the movie. The way Tilda Swinton dresses, her hairdo, her stance, all are reminiscent of a ballet teacher, bravo! She is the primary mentor and does spectacular work.
The young women at the company do not suspect a coven at work due to the family vibe going on. Nurturing and loving, the coven shows themselves as mother figures to the girls. They hide their intentions very carefully. However, as the movie goes on, Blanc feels something different coming from Suzie.
The best and horror factor is how every girl’s gift is taken from them and repurposed for Suzie.
Leaving The Dream For The Art
In Suspiria, Suzie is quite naïve. She’s from a family of Mennonites. She left a few times to see dancing spectacles and saw Blanc perform three times. She suffered many punishments.
So much so that on her deathbed, her mother made a confession to the priest. She said that her sin was bringing Suzie into the world. If that isn’t cruel coming from a mother, I don’t know what is…but this movie has many symbols and details to notice!
Because Suzie was a Mennonite, dance was out of the question, and therefore she is self-taught. When auditioning for the company, she bets her life on it because she has nowhere to go in Germany, doing not so well.
In a week, Suzie goes from a nobody auditioning for a place in the company to becoming a professional dancer in Berlin. Then, she becomes the star of the performance to come. For that reason alone, a few pairs of eyes are on her for having such a talent for dancing.
Meanwhile, some sacrifices are necessary and come to the detriment of other dancers.
The Witcraft, The Dancers, And The Studio
One link connecting all the dots is the psychotherapist that one dancer from the company saw as a patient. Josef most likely classified Patricia as a psychotic young dancer who interpreted the world around her in a bizarre way that made sense to her. She spoke of witchcraft, the people running the company as a coven drinking her urine, cutting her hair and using her.
We learn in the movie about her disappearance not long after she visits the psychotherapist, Dr. Klemperer. But did she really run away? In the middle of practice, Olga, an older student and star of the performance, shook by Patricia’s decision to leave, has a meltdown and calls Blanc a witch and leaves. Well, “leave” is a strong word in that movie.
Josef decides to do his own research about the company and meet with Sara, one of Suzie’s first friends in Berlin. She was close to Patricia and accepted Josef’s invitation. At first reluctant, seduced by the nurturing and kindness of the company that charged their employees nothing for staying at their complex, Sara kept her mouth shut. However, the more she noticed strange behavior, the more she investigated the studio building.
The Show Must Go On Dancers!
The movie drags you into its story and makes it even more accurate with it switching from English to German, a little French too for dancing purposes. The horrific moments are quite shocking and performed spectacularly. We do wonder what forces are at work in this movie!
It is easy to recognize the 1970s look of the filming. We can enjoy the retro vibes of the movie, which is perfect as a remake that pays tribute to the original.
The movie gives an excellent payoff to those who stick to the end. Do not expect a twist or an “everything is revealed!” ending. This isn’t that kind of movie. However, if you follow the signs and details, it may lead to a possible sequel.
I give the movie 4/5 stars!