Witches, horror, feminism «DiePresse.com

Should it be considered a divine intervention when a lightning interrupts the premiere of a festival film? This happened on Friday night in Venice: during the premiere of "A Star Is Born" by Bradley Cooper an uncomfortable thunderstorm hit the Palazzo del Cinema, blew up a projector lamp and made a mandatory break of 15 minutes in the pop drama-pop star Lady Gaga. The spirits differ in the interpretation.

In any case, the weather has a creepy connection with the film festival this year. When Viktor Kossakovsky & # 39; s "Aquarela", an overwhelming documentary about the power of water, camera recordings by an orchestrated island town watered the canvas at the first press presentation, it stormed outside the cinemas – so much so that onlookers in less sound, temporary container locations of the festival barely heard a line of dialogue. And on Saturday morning, just before the unveiling of Luca Guadagnino's remake of the horror classic "Suspiria", a horrific cloud cover was strikingly over the heads of the critics.

Original from 1977.
Many were eagerly awaiting the Italian-American coproduction, also because of the reputation of the original. Although the masterpiece of Dario Argento from 1977 in Germany has recently been removed from the index, it has long become a film gun. In defense of the grubby horror genre, the film is often used in the field: its impetuous color hue, its incomparable fever dream atmosphere would enrich it to the milestone of film expressionism. All sorts of current directors praised him and fans welcomed a new 4K restoration in May.

Those who now hope for a slavish homage to their favorite film of the new "Suspiria" must stay in the cinema. Guadagnino, director of the Oscar-winning romance "Call Me by Your Name", chooses another, in fact the only right approach: the free reinterpretation. He appropriates the material, transforming it – as recently demonstrated by Denis Villeneuve in his "Blade Runner" sect. Immediately observe the changed color palette. Argento's brushstroke was full, powerful, full of aggressive primary colors, red-green-blue iridescent horror. Guadagnino plunges the world in subdued autumn colors: amber, ruby ​​red and pigeon gray dominate the scene – if it does not sink in a dark shadow.

Autumn, especially German autumn, also determines the plot: while the original plays in Freiburg and indirectly expresses the fears of the times with its dark-colored psycho-spectacle, Guadagnino projects the imagined world of the model into its own stylized vision of the heavy seventies, The young, inattentive Susie (Dakota Johnson) comes from Ohio to Berlin to study at a renowned dance academy. Outside the kidnappings of Baader-Meinhof, Landshut and Schleyer keep the world in tension, bare walls have protest graffiti, every now and then bombs go up. But within the institution there is also a threatening mood: a student is gone, ominous whispers through the corridors, the aura of a poisoned melodrama by Fassbinder is in the air. Has Susie even become involved in a coven?

Literally broken. At Argento one would lose the parquet under the feet and end up in an impulsive phantasmagoria; Guadagnino holds back relatively, he moves, even a conscious reorientation, rather intellectually. Although he does not forget the horror, but it only serves sporadically, in the form of alibimäßiger snacks. The Pièce de résistance comes early: Susie, psychophysically connected to a disturbed fellow student thanks to black magic, literally and instinctively dances: every movement blows fractured, muscular, body-bobbing in the pit of the stomach. In terms of classical shock, this brutal sequence is already the solitary climax; the rest of the film is more like a psychodrama about radicalization and feminism that has been obscured by gothic horror and surrealistic dream monsters.

Of this subtext the film makes no secret, not even the witch of the dance teachers: in the beginning you can see how they gather around the table of their WG-women – a battalion of prominent acting veterans, including Ingrid Caven, Angela Winkler, Sylvie Testud and Renée Soutendijk (Jessica Harper, the main actress of the original, has a small guest appearance). The mastermind of Guadagnino, Tilda Swinton, gives a Madame who, as she says, has already stood up for the image of the nazi's of women. These witches, quickly becoming clear, are not only (or at least not all) bad. A Walpurgis convent as a subversive equality community, this not new idea is here again ausklamüsert in the context of a postmodern discourse film, it is also about mother-daughter relations, psychoanalysis, the burden of the National Socialist past.

Enchanting soundtrack. At first sight everything seems rather complex and compact, sometimes exhausting; because it takes two and a half hours over six chapters, and the story is not necessarily elegantly constructed. But you stay there, also because of the enchanting soundtrack of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and sensual insistent moments. Until the finale ends in the intoxication of a sacrificial ritual, but again at Argento, or at least not far away from him. "Suspiria" may not be the best film of the competition so far. Undoubtedly he is one of his most unusual.

Festival in the Lido

Until 8 September this year's Lido festival will open on 29 August.

It counts to the world's most important festivals for refined films, alongside the Berlinale and the Cannes Film Festival.

The golden lion is awarded on 9 September, the jury chairman of this year is Guillermo del Toro.

("Die Presse", printed edition, 02.09.2018)

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