A glowing Luca Guadagnino held court at Saturday’s press conference in Venice for his radical re-imagining of Dario Argento’s classic chiller “Suspiria,” where it became quite clear that Tilda Swinton plays two parts in the film — one an elderly man — though she vehemently denied it.
To some giggles in the audience, Swinton read out a statement supposedly from Lutz Edersdorf, the actor credited as playing psychoanalyst Jozef Klemperer and listed on IMDb as an 82-year-old man born in Munich, but who is widely believed to be Swinton herself.
When asked about the alleged ruse directly, she looked stony-faced and said she did not play him. Her credited role is of Madame Blanc, the artistic director of the dance academy where creepy and gory things happen, including the disappearance of various students.
The cheerful mood continued when Guadagnino called “Suspiria” a film “about horror.” “It’s about the horror in interpersonal relationships, about horror in femininity, and horror in history,” he said. “What was the next question — ‘Is it a horror movie?'”
On a more serious note, the director talked about the importance of dance in “Suspiria,” which features some demanding avant-garde choreography. “Dance wasn’t just dance, but was instead used as a character, as a language — in this case, the language of the transcendence of magic,” Guadagnino said.
Regarding the music, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke said he was unable to reference the original film’s soundtrack by progressive Italian rock group Goblin, but he found the band’s use of repetition interesting. “Repetition of motifs again and again and again … to the point where you say: ‘I don’t want to hear that anymore!'”
Yorke drew instead on Krautrock, as experimental German rock of the 1970s is known. “Suspiria,” which is set in a divided Berlin, offered “a really cool way to totally immerse myself in that [musical] area with full permission,” Yorke said.
The funniest moment of the news conference came when Dakota Johnson, who puts in a powerfully disturbing performance as dancer Susie Bannion, was asked to confirm reports that she went into therapy after making the movie.
“First of all, I was not psychoanalyzed, and I hope I never will be,” Johnson said. “I’m a very porous person, and I absorb a lot of people’s feelings. And sometimes when you work on a dark subject matter, it can stay with you. And to talk to somebody really nice about it afterwards is really comforting, and my therapist is a very nice woman.”
Having said that, she added that the experience was not a traumatic one. “It was the most fun and the most exhilarating and the most enjoyable that it could be,” Johnson said. “So it’s not like I ended up in a psych ward afterwards. I just had a lot of feelings!”