Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton on the Long Journey to Bring 'Suspiria' Back to Life

By Kay, Jeremy | Screen International, August 28, 2018 | Go to article overview

Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton on the Long Journey to Bring 'Suspiria' Back to Life


Kay, Jeremy, Screen International


The remake of Dario Argento’s horror classic is the pair’s fourth feature together.

Exclusive image of Tilda Swinton in ‘Suspiria’

Luca Guadagnino and Tilda Swinton have fantasised about doing a ‘cover’ of Dario Argento’s notorious 1977 giallo horror film Suspiria for as long as they have been friends, which, it turns out, is a supernaturally long time.

“Several centuries we’ve been talking about it,” Swinton says, chuckling down the phone from Scotland. She has just wrapped Jim Jarmusch’s zombie horror The Dead Don’t Die and is limbering up for the grand unveiling of her latest collaboration with Guadagnino in Venice. “It’s fantastically gratifying to be able to talk about it in the past tense.”

Swinton reprises Joan Bennett’s final screen role as Madame Blanc, a dance academy director in a divided Berlin with one hell of a secret. She imbues Blanc with zen calm amid political turmoil and the portentous arrival of American student Susie Bannion, played by Dakota Johnson.

Swinton says she and Guadagnino discussed Suspiria the first time they met, some 25 years ago, back when I Am Love, A Bigger Splash and their first film, 1999 crime thriller The Protagonists, were mere glints in their eyes. They were both obsessed with Argento’s film.

For his part, the Italian director - who spoke to Screen by phone from his home in Crema, Italy - recalls the first time he watched the original at the age of 14. “I was understanding in an hour and 35 minutes that everything was possible in cinema. Everything was do-able, and [I realised] that you could really upset somebody in a beautiful way with movies.”

As a teenager he drew posters bearing the legend, ‘Suspiria by Luca Guadagnino’, although it would be several more decades before he would be ready to pay proper homage. “There are two moments in my life,” says the filmmaker. “The time when I wanted to do everything immediately - and this made me suffer a lot because I wasn’t doing what I wanted - and the second phase, when I started to understand the [benefit] of time to reflect.”

Guadagnino and his producing partners acquired the rights in 2008. The plan was for him to produce and David Gordon Green - who coincidentally has also rebooted a 1970s horror standard, Halloween, which is premiering in Toronto - would direct. When Green’s version fell through, Guadagnino’s friends coaxed him into directing his “rushed dream of youth”, and he brought on David Kajganich, who had written A Bigger Splash, to have a crack at the script. …

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