Suspiria ★★★★★

A little girl draws a line of intention from her Ohio home to Berlin, only to have the paper snatched away by her mother. Years later, she fulfills this intention and goes to Berlin, expecting, knowing she needs to dance.

What she doesn’t expect to find is a world where the categories of good and evil taught to her don’t exist, instead she’s cast into a world that perpetuates exercises in power and abuse, whether magical or political. Rather than rejecting it, she seems to embrace it.

Before Suspiria, I don’t think I’d encountered a movie that truly captured the feeling of vertigo that happens when all your old conceptions of morality encounter the bare, terrifying facts of the world, and how that experience both horrifies and thrills.

In many ways, this is a personal film for me. My senior thesis for my art history minor concerned the painting series 18.Oktober.1977, which depicts photos taken of the RAF, who are the background chatter of this film.

As I’ve mentioned in my review of the Red Shoes, dance feels like the art of my shadow self, the art I’d want to pursue if I could trade this life for another.

Scattered in the background are images of David Bowie, one poster being the exact one I have a t-shirt of, with him drawing Kabbalah symbols on the floor. In classic art gay fashion, Bowie was also super formative for my aesthetic sense. 

So here we have an emotional, extravagant horror film that combines all these elements that have been essential in my development, with a narrative mirroring, in some ways, the way I’ve processed my encounters with cruelty in the world, and how art can address those.

Maybe it’s all coincidental but on some superstitious level, I feel like this film was made for me.

Even the parts that are messy (and they exist), work towards making this what it is. This world we live in is a mess, art is a mess, and anything that doesn’t admit to that is lying.

I swear I thought I had a thesis about this but I get overwhelmed and don’t know how to speak about it. I think I’m getting closer though.

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