The very funny "Suspiria" should be a radical feminist film. How come?

The very funny "Suspiria" should be a radical feminist film. How come?

Dakota Johnson, center, plays a dancer named Susie Bannion in "Suspiria". (Alessio Bolzoni / Amazon Studios)

The experience of seeing Luca Guadagnino's remake "Suspiria" has a lot to do with the nightmares that endure Dakota Johnson's character. In a divided Berlin, the dance student Susie Bannion writhes in her sleep, while disturbing images flash through her head, as we squirm in our seats, when violent flashes and inner suffering appear on the screen. All of this happens in the hands of her school's mattresses, which, as Susie's dancer Sara (Mia Goth) later discovers, is actually a witch's circle with an eerie plan.

One thread that connects all this rage is Guadagnino's wish, which released on Friday nationwide, to see very funny "Suspiria" as a feminist horror movie. The director told Yahoo that he intended it to be a "heavy showcase of female artistic experience." However, some critics have grappled with the portrayal of this violence, arguing that it does not serve women as well as they may believe.

How exactly does Guadagnino use witchcraft to target patriarchy? Let us discuss in the format "Suspiria" in the introductory text: "Six acts and an afterword".

Act I: Where and when are we?

Our journey begins in October 1977, the year in which Dario Argento's original "Suspiria" came out, and the same month members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine abducted a Lufthansa flight to Germany to negotiate the release of the imprisoned Red Army faction leader Guadagnino refers again and again to this Cold War event, without folding it into action. It is only explicitly relevant when a matron says that a desperate former student – Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz), the first of a few who has suddenly disappeared – may be part of the left-wing militant group.

Maybe Guadagnino wanted to get the audience to somehow draw a parallel between the radical group and the witches. Or maybe he just tried too hard to feel like 1977. In any case, there are a lot of historical elements, including a Holocaust survivor – and Patricia's psychiatrist – Dr. Jozef Klemperer (Tilda Swinton, disguised as an old man). ,

Act II: The film tries to reclaim the label "witch" …

In a way, "Suspiria" shows the witches that other Western works have: women who band together to fight oppressive forces. There is an undercurrent of motherhood that runs through the film, and three ancient figures lead the mythology: Mater Tenebrarum (Mother of Darkness), Mater Lachrymarum (Tearmother) and Mater Suspiriorum (Mother of Sighs) last served from the Markos Dance Academy Coven.

In real life, the term "witch" has been used to discredit and silence women (eg, the Salem witch trials), but has also been reclaimed by real and fictional witches. Such stories are particularly relevant today when men who have been found guilty of crimes, "witch hunt!" Have cried to discredit those who are less powerful in a similar way.

The patriarchy works a little differently in a story like "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina", a recent Netflix series about a juvenile witch (Kiernan Shipka), who hesitates to sign her name in the book of the beast, a kind of witch baptism. Essentially, this would require her subordinating her soul to the Dark Lord or Satan, a thinly veiled representation of patriarchy. In this way, the show makes it seem more feminine to break with their fellow witches than to stand by them.

Act III: And they are looking for revenge

The coven is particularly interested in Susie when she arrives at the academy, presumably because she can serve them, and therefore also Mater Suspiriorum. This conspiracy culminates in a bloody climax, which in retrospect sheds light on what the Coven has always tried.

But David Kajganich invites the script with allusions to the Coven's broader motivation, which means resorting to those who have wronged them. The only men in the film, as Swinton plays a man, are two police officers who are spellbound and humiliated accordingly. At another point, a matron Klemperer reprimands because he does not believe women who tell him the truth: "They tell them, they have delusions!"

Act IV: You are very powerful

Guadagnino gives these women power that fits on paper to their feminist goal. The power of witches knows no bounds. Madam Blanc (also Swinton), the artistic director of the Academy, can turn Susie's dreams into bloody nightmares. She and the other mattresses can inflict injuries on dancers anytime, anywhere – as in a particularly cruel scene when a dancer is completely mutilated. What brings us to this? , ,


Tilda Swinton plays the artistic director of the Markos Dance Academy, Madam Blanc, and two other characters in "Suspiria". (Alessio Bolzoni / Amazon Studios)

Act V: And do terrible things

Guadagnino told Jezebel that "true feminism is something that does not shy away from the complexities of female identity." Complexity in "Suspiria" means that women can be sympathetic figures, for example, when abused by a society that favors men, but also terrible, such as when the Academy's students mysteriously disappear. But how Guadagnino deals with the latter is the argument.

Act VI: Wait a minute, is this film feminist?

The witches often cause or provoke violence – after all, their actions make this horror movie. However, some critics say that this gives the impression that a woman of great power is someone who should be feared. Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post put it this way:

"There is also a disturbing, albeit unintentious undercurrent of misogyny portrayed not only by witchcraft (a manifestation of men's fear of women's power, if any), but by the frequent nakedness and violent objectification of women's bodies. In two scenes female characters are grotesquely distorted by supernatural powers. There is a thin line between the accusation of the male gaze as Guadagnino intended and the enjoyment. "

epilogue

This polarizing fever dream of a movie is likely to be called the "mother!" Of the year 2018, especially when debating whether the portrayal of feminism is successful. That can be exhausting! And so we turn to the Latin sentence from which Argento tore the title of the film: "suspiria de profundis" or "sighs from the depths".

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