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Suspiria (1977) Poster

(1977)

Trivia

Director Dario Argento's original idea was that the ballet school would accommodate young girls no older than twelve years. However, the studio and producer Salvatore Argento (his father) denied his request because a film this violent involving children would almost certainly be banned. Dario raised the age limit of the girls to twenty years but did not rewrite the script, hence the naiveté of the characters and the occasionally childlike dialogue. He also put all the doorknobs at about the same height as the actress' heads so they would have to raise their arms in order to open the doors, just like children.
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Jump to: Spoilers (6)
The woman playing Helena Markos was not credited. According to Jessica Harper, she was a 90-year-old former prostitute who director Dario Argento found on the streets of Rome, Italy.
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Director Dario Argento composed the creepy music with the band Goblin and played it at full blast on set to unnerve the actors and elicit a truly scared performance.
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Director Dario Argento had cinematographer Luciano Tovoli watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to have him model the color scheme of that film for this one.
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According to Jessica Harper, since the film was going to be dubbed after principal photography, sound was rarely recorded during shooting. Harper remarked that it was strange to her to be in the middle of shooting a scene and hearing the background sound of a stagehand hammering away on another set in the studio.
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For the wide shots of the "maggots" falling from the ceiling, the crew would drop grains of rice down onto the actresses from above.
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The Dario Argento biography "Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds" takes its title from the line that Udo Kier says in this film.
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Director Dario Argento cast Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc because of her association with director Fritz Lang, who Argento greatly admired.
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Udo Kier's appearance was so rushed for him that he had little time to completely read the script when it was given to him. Since the movie was filmed without sound and was later dubbed, a crew person lying on the ground (behind the stone bench where he was sitting in his scene with Jessica Harper) was telling him his lines as he gave them to her.
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While shooting the scene where Suzy and Sara swim in the pool, director Dario Argento instructed the actresses to stir the pool waters as little as possible to give the scene a more tranquil look.
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Rudolf Schündler, the West German actor who played the role of Professor Milius, could not speak any English or Italian, so in the scene where he talks with Jessica Harper (Suzy) about witches, she could not understand him as he was speaking in German. Harper later quoted that she tried very hard to keep a straight face as not to flub her lines and that also, he would lightly tap on one of her legs with his foot just out of frame to cue her to speak when he was done finishing his own lines.
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The exterior of the dance academy, though constructed on a studio lot in Rome, is based on the Haus zum Walfisch (Whale House), a landmark late-Gothic building in the old town of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany.
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The film is set in Freiburg (officially known as Freiburg im Breisgau), Germany, but in the English dub, the narrator mispronounces it as Fribourg, a different town in Switzerland. Despite this setting, location filming was done in Munich, and several Munich landmarks are visible in the film, including Königsplatz (where Daniel walks his dog at night) and the BMW tower (where Suzy meets the professor).
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The voice heard whispering on the bizarre soundtrack by Goblin is that of Goblin band member Claudio Simonetti. Simonetti stated in interviews that much of what he whispers on the music score was just gibberish.
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This film was the first part (with Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007)) of a trilogy of movies about the "Three Mothers."
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Originally, the film was going to star Daria Nicolodi, who was director Dario Argento's girlfriend at the time and who also wrote the screenplay. Nicolodi ultimately did appear in the film twice; she can be glimpsed in the film's opening sequence that shows Suzy walking through the airport, and she also provides the gravelly voice of Helena Markos.
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In an interview, Jessica Harper said that many of the actors spoke different languages during shooting, mostly Italian and German, and it would make communicating difficult at times. However, since the film would be dubbed into English for American release, it was deemed not to be an issue during filming.
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According to Daria Nicolodi, the lead role in the film was written for her but the studio insisted that an American actress be cast for the lead, to make the film more marketable.
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It is often assumed that, to achieve the rich color palette, the film was shot using the outdated three-strip Technicolor process. This was, in fact, not true. No film made after the mid-1950s was shot using this method. This film was instead shot on normal Eastmancolor Kodak stock, then printed using the three-strip Technicolor process, utilizing one of the last remaining three-strip machines. This issue has been confused somewhat by the fact that, on the 25th anniversary documentary featured in the three-disc DVD set, a discussion of the printing process by cinematographer Luciano Tovoli was followed by a diagram showing a three-strip camera.
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In 2008, a remake was announced with David Gordon Green as director. However, in 2014, Green dropped out due to budget concerns and legal issues. In September 2015, filmmaker Luca Guadagnino was announced as the new director with Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson added to the cast, although Guadagnino stated in press conferences that his version was a personal interpretation of the original and not a "remake," saying, "It's impossible to remake [Argento's] film."
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Director Dario Argento cast Jessica Harper as the lead after seeing Harper's debut performance in Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise (1974).
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This was the final film of Joan Bennett.
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Suspiria means "to sigh" or "sighed," but it also possibly means "whispered." It has something to do with the difference in Italian and Spanish language stemming from the Latin root.
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The Latin phrase mentioned in the original Italian version, "Quoddam semper, quoddam ubique, quoddam ab omnibus creditum est," translates as "Always, everywhere, some are believed by all."
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Jessica Harper turned down a part in Annie Hall (1977) to star in this film.
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The film was shot over four months.
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Barbara Magnolfi has revealed in subsequent years her belief that Olga was a young witch in training, hence her interest in Suzy, and revealed a scripted but unfilmed scene where Olga performed with the Bolshoi the night the students were in town; it was ultimately cut because it interrupted the pacing of the film's climax.
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Fulvio Mingozzi played a cab driver in this film and also in its sequel, Inferno (1980).
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At the Texas Frightmare Weekend in Dallas, Texas in May 2017, director Dario Argento said he cast Jessica Harper because she had "big eyes."
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Joan Bennett's partner (later husband) David Wilde was a fan of Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970) and it was at his urging that Bennett agreed to appear as Madame Blanc despite her objections to the violence in films at the time. Besides Wilde's admiration was the all-expenses paid trip to Italy. Bennett however immediately regretted having said yes after finding the Italian filmmaking process slow and disorganized. One day, in preparing for a scene in which she had only one line, Bennett reported to the studio, had her hair and makeup done, got into costume, all by 12:30 pm but then it was five hours before the scene was actually shot. The one consolation was getting to know fellow cast member Alida Valli who befriended Bennett and Wilde introducing them to the excellent and little known restaurants.
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Entertainment Weekly magazine ranked this as the eighteenth scariest movie of all time.
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After completing the specialized color work on this production, Technicolor Rome reportedly dismantled their remaining three-strip equipment.
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A glass feather is plucked from an ornament. Director Dario Argento's feature film debut was directing The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970).
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Udo Kier and the other actors were dubbed in this film because they didn't record audio during filming. All voices and sounds were added later.
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Eva Axén, who played the part as Pat Hingle, had to stay on the set over one week to complete her scenes.
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This film is included among the "1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die," edited by Steven Schneider.
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In an interview for Xavier Mendik's book "Bodies of Desire and Bodies in Distress," director Dario Argento revealed that he felt the female-centric movie could be viewed as a lesbian story. He said, "I wasn't primarily interested in the theme of motherhood but, rather, in women's lives. In fact, if you want to give a deeper reading of the film, it can be seen as a vaguely lesbian story; where lesbianism has a certain importance, or, more precisely, where the relationships between women are sometimes of a lesbian nature and are characterised by power struggles. There aren't any male characters to speak of in the film. All there is are power relations between women."
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James A. Janisse, from the popular The Kill Count (2017) series and the Dead Meat Podcast (2018), considers this film one of this all time favorite horror films. His admiration lies in the film's unique visuals and sound.
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Twentieth Century-Fox bought the American film distribution rights to this film, but due to its violent content released it though a subsidiary "International Classics". The film was cut by eight minutes to obtain a "R" rating in the U.S. Despite all this, the picture was Fox's seventh-highest grossing film of the year.
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Tina Aumont had been offered the lead role, but due to scheduling conflicts she could not accept.
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Dario Argento was so low after completing the film that he actively contemplated suicide.
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Dario Argento deliberately wanted the opening murder to be very shocking as it would undermine the audience's expectations and they wouldn't have any idea what was coming next.
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Dario Argento was always disappointed that Italian audiences never got to hear Jessica Harper's real voice as she was dubbed for the domestic market. He was very fond of her voice.
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The film was designed to resemble an acid trip. This is partly why Dario Argento wanted to film it in Germany to accent all the expressionistic fairytale aspects. This was achieved by shooting on outmoded Technicolor stock.
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Stefania Casini jumped at the chance to appear in the film as she was a huge fan of Dario Argento.
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Goblin's score was composed before the film was shot.
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Although set in Germany, the entire film was shot in Italy.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Director Dario Argento was inspired to make this film by stories of Daria Nicolodi's grandmother, who claimed to have fled from a German music academy because witchcraft was being secretly practiced there.
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Jessica Harper said in interviews that the most frightening scene in the film for her was the grand finale where everything explodes and shatters around her as she flees the academy. Harper said that the rigged explosions were quite unnerving as they went off close to her.
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The film's finale was inspired by a dream that co-writer Daria Nicolodi once had. In the dream she said she had encountered an invisible witch and, most bizarrely, there was a panther in the room with her that suddenly exploded. The dream was written into the film, but it's a porcelain panther that explodes.
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Stefania Casini had a difficult time shooting her death scene. Though the "barbed wire" that she falls into was fake, the coils of wire still got wrapped around her tightly and pinched her skin painfully.
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The only installment in the "Three Mothers" trilogy where the main witch is not referred to by her original Latin title; only by her regular name: Helena Markos. She would subsequently be identified solely as "Mater Suspiriorum" (The Mother of Sighs) in the sequels Inferno (1980) and Mother of Tears (2007).
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Director trademark: [Dario Argento] Murder victim crashes through window.
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