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Type: Journal article
Title: Transferring Suspiria: Historicism and Philosophies of Psychoanalytic Transference
Author: Howard, A.
Murphet, J.
Citation: Film-Philosophy, 2022; 26(1):63-85
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Issue Date: 2022
ISSN: 1466-4615
Statement of
Alexander Howard, Julian Murphet
Abstract: Luca Guadagnino's Suspiria (2018) aggressively foregrounds a term from the discourse of psychoanalysis, now a relic of twentieth-century philosophical and psychological thought, with which to negotiate a sequence of historical problems specific to its articulation as a remake (adaptation or reimagining) of a 1977 giallo by Dario Argento. The concept is “transference”. Transference traverses the whole semantic field of this film text, offering a hermeneutic device that, we will show, structures its conception and execution. This interpretative tool affords us a conceptual means with which to appreciate the decidedly querulous attitude that Guadagnino's remake assumes as regards its source text. Lodged in what can be described as an antagonism over the “spirit” of a film shot in 1977 is, we feel, a profound difference of opinion over the relationship between aesthetics and politics, and thus a contest over the very concept of a film's “spirit”. Argento's classic deliberately “spiritualizes” the political context of its creation, and particularly its setting during the German Autumn of 1977, in order to produce an oneiric fairy-tale nightmare about innocence abroad. The “spirit” of Suspiria is what must be sacrificed in the 2018 adaptation, in order to rescue its material basis from the amnesia of posterity. This is a film about its own historicism and about historicism in general, and what it costs to produce a “terrible beauty” out of the violence of terror. It is a materialist intervention in the culture of recycling, and offers, as a remake, a critical reading of a film apparently immune to the principle of a remake.
Rights: © Alexander Howard and Julian Murphet. This article is published as Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial Licence ( which permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction provided the original work is cited. For commercial re-use, please refer to our website at: www.euppublishing. com/customer-services/authors/permissions.
DOI: 10.3366/film.2022.0190
Appears in Collections:English publications

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