Thomas de Quincey, as depicted by Sir John Watson-Gordon
Earlier this week, Screen Daily reported that Atlantique Productions (France) and Cattleya (Italy) have entered into a co-production deal to create 12-episode TV series based two Italian properties with notable cult followings: Django and Suspiria. While I’d hope that most readers of this site have at least a passing familiarity with the Django movies, it is obviously Suspiria that is of most interest to us.
Despite Dario Argento’s involvement as artistic supervisor on the series, the report suggests that it will not be an adaptation of Argento’s 1977 film Suspiria, but rather a period piece inspired by Thomas de Quincey’s collection of essays titled Suspiria de Profundis, which were the inspiration for the movie and its sequels Inferno (1980) and the lamentable (get it?) Mother of Tears (2007). The movies drew primarily from the chapter “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow,” and are collectively known as the “Three Mothers Trilogy.”
The series will use de Quincey himself as the lead character, styled after Sherlock Holmes and investigating mysteries (presumably mysteries inspired by the essays in Suspiria De Profundis). It will be interesting to see if the producers decide to tackle “Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow,” and, if so, whether they draw any direct connections to Argento’s films.
De Quincey’s Mater Suspiriorum as depicted in Suspiria
This development follows years of stalled attempts to get a Hollywood remake of Suspiria off the ground. That proposal was always a little baffling to me. While it is a brilliant movie, and an extremely important piece of genre history, it has very little name recognition among mainstream audiences, at least in the US. But, even more importantly, Argento’s Suspiria is simply not a work that lends itself well to the idea of a re-make. It is very much a work of individual directorial style, with very little story to speak of, so any re-interpretation would either have to be slavishly imitative, or else so radically unlike the original that it would be functionally an original narrative.
Mark (Leigh McCloskey) confronts Mater Tenebrarum (Veronica Lazar) in the underrated Inferno
Tackling De Quincey’s themes in a different medium – one with different stylistic and narrative standards – and starting from a wholly different plot and structure makes much more sense, both commercially and creatively.
Moran Atias as Mater Lachrymarum in Mother of Tears
A lot of the coverage of this story has played up the interest expressed via Twitter by beloved television writer and producer Bryan Fuller. However, his Tweet on the subject was not addressed in any way to the producers so much as to fans and the press, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’s in any kind of talks to be involved in any respect. And considering that he is currently serving as show runner for both Hannibal and the upcoming American Gods, it seems unlikely he’d have room in his schedule to play a major role in a third TV series. A few sites have also drawn the odd conclusion that Fuller specifically wants to direct for the series, despite his having no directorial credits and having specified no such thing in his Tweet.
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