If you’re not familiar with Luca Guadagnino’s work prior to his 2017 cultural phenomenon Call Me By Your Name, then, boy, you are in for quite the surprise with his eerie and gory vision that is Suspiria.
When I spoke with him recently, Guadagnino made it clear that his version of Suspiria is not a direct remake of Dario Argento’s 1977 original. There are key plot points that are completely different in Guadagnino’s version that won’t be spoiled here, but they do drastically differentiate the two versions. Set in 1977, a young American woman (Dakota Johnson) joins a prestigious West Berlin dance academy, taught by Madame Blac (Tilda Swinton, who has three roles in this film, including, famously, that of an old man named Dr. Jozef Klempere), and this prestigious dance academy also is run by witches. Guadagnino does not shy away from gruesome and disturbing imagery.
And it seems obvious that Guadagnino would like to make more chapters in this story (the original film spawned two sequels, in which the third, Mother of Tears, was released 30 years after the original) but he’s being pretty mum on what those would even look like or be.
Also, Guadagnino has mentioned he’s planning on making a sequel to Call Me By Your Name, but has been having trouble coming up with a title. Of course, Twitter users have had plenty of suggestions but, no, Guadagnino hasn’t been reading those and explains why these suggestions won’t work.
You mentioned you don’t have a title for the Call Me By Your Name sequel. There have been a lot of suggestions on Twitter.
I haven’t paid attention to the internet, to be honest. I have an old Nokia phone.
This time I think it’s actually the internet trying to be nice.
What types of ideas do they have?
Well, the one I saw the most was “And I’ll Call You By Mine,“ but that seems wrong.
Well, this title is not right for one reason. It is trying to hook whatever is the new episode, in the life of the characters, to what was the episode we have already seen in Call Me By Your Name. But the truth is that when you go off from change, and you are changing place and time, you may find something you haven’t expected, not something that is not completely related to what you already have.
And I get why you’d want to put a lot of thought into it.
Speaking of Call Me By Your Name, an average moviegoer who only knows your work from that movie is going to be in for a big surprise with Suspiria.
Well, yes, it depends. I think it’s a brutal feel that can bring you to become closer and closer to an emotional crisis, don’t you agree?
I do. But if you are someone who doesn’t really pay attention, this movie shockingly different.
Yeah. These movies are an expression of who I am as a filmmaker and as a person. They both belong to me intimately and I’m proud of both and I want to communicate with both. So I am open to take the risk of baffling someone who may be interested in something like Call Me By Your Name and not expecting something like Suspiria. As much I am interested in doing a movie like Suspiria, the follow up may not be expected from the director of Suspiria. I like cinema. I like cinema because it allows me to explore places and thematics that are very valued.
You’ve said many times this is more an homage to the original and not a remake. Why did you feel it needed to retold at all?
Well, I don’t think that is exactly the way which I thought of this movie. I saw the original when I was 14, and I love the original in the way that is so intense. That, in a way, I had to profess it. And I wanted to remake the Dario Argento movie since I saw it when I was 14.
That’s an ambitious goal at 14.
Yeah. That’s it. I had that feeling.
David Gordon Green tried to direct this remake 10 years ago, and here he is with Halloween instead. How did you finally convince people to make this?
I worked for this in David Gordon Green’s version.
Right, as producer…
And we tried to make this movie happen and we didn’t succeed for reasons that are critical of the way which cinema goes. And that’s it.
But what changed?
I have been telling you I’ve always wanted to be like this since I was 14. I grew up in love for it. Then, in 2007, I applied for the rights to remake the movie. And being a realist, not being able at the time to convince people to do it for me as a director. I had met David, who I love and I found him a great filmmaker, and I found him a great friend. And I asked if he was in interested in this and he was. We tried to make that movie with him, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. And now we are here, a few years later with me being able to put together the budget to make the movie and that is the way in which I did it.
Obviously, you never once thought of setting your version in contemporary time. Did anyone ever try to convince you otherwise?
I assumed there would be a bigwig somewhere saying, “Hey, if you want our money you gotta set it in 2018.”
No. The peace was beloved and Amazon was a wonderful partner in doing the movie and being consistent with making you happy in the time which you want to be set. My calculation for Suspiria goes hand in hand with my calculation for the time in which the movie was released, which is 1977. For me, I was so happy that I couldn’t come past both my love for Suspiria and the time in which the movie was made.
Can we expect Mother Of Tears to come out in 2048?
If you make a sequel, would it be Inferno or something completely different?
I really think we’ll have to watch what happens in theaters opening weekend.
Okay, but it does feel like you have a passion for this story and would want to continue it.
I have a passion for this world. Sure I do.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.