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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Suspiria details

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Wall decor based on MC Escher’s Study of Regular Division of the Plane with Fish and Birds (1938).

A few screen grabs from the weekend’s viewing of a German Blu-ray disc of Suspiria (1977). My old DVD didn’t look too bad but this is one film where high-definition is required to do justice to the vivid lighting and to Giuseppe Bassan’s marvellous production design. The Art Nouveau splendour of the cursed ballet school contains some notable art references but elsewhere there’s the Escher decoration on the walls of the apartment at the beginning, not the kind of decor you expect to find in a horror film. All these images are details cropped from widescreen frames.

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Suzy (Jessica Harper) and Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) in the madame’s office. The mural always fascinated me for being a strange confection of Escher motifs, all winding staircases and architecture borrowed from Belvedere (1958).

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The far right of the same shot showing some of the Beardsley figures that fill the panels of Madame Blanc’s screens.

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The same room, later in the film, and more Beardsley figures all of which are taken from Salomé (1894). The main figure from The Peacock Skirt has had its robe blacked-in to match the others.

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Another view of the Escher mural.

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Suzy in the corridor leading to the inner sanctum of the witches. The black-and-gold decoration makes me think of Whistler’s Peacock Room (which was green and gold) even though none of the motifs are taken from Whistler. It’s a suitable reference, however, since Beardsley’s Peacock Skirt drawing borrowed from Whistler’s peacock designs, and the occult corridor happens to lead to a chamber containing a lethal peacock.

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Suzy in the chamber of the Black Queen. Dario Argento’s first film was The Bird with Crystal Plumage (1969) which is exactly what we have here. More horror films should be as aesthetically adventurous as this.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Refn’s reds
Valhalla Rising
Symbolist cinema

 


 

Posted in {art nouveau}, {art}, {design}, {film}, {horror}.

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2 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Modzilla

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    The mural is remarkably similar to Karel Thole’s cover for ‘I mostri all’angolo della strada’ which you highlighted back in August – due to Escher’s influence obviously

  2. #2 posted by John

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    I was also thinking of Thole this time round.

 


 

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