Cinergie (Nov 2013)

Expressionist Use of Colour Palette and Set Design in Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977)

  • Giulio L. Giusti

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 2, no. 4
pp. 154 – 165


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This article seeks to explore a possible association in cinematography and mise-en-scene between Dario Argento’s Suspiria and some of the German expressionist films of the 1920s, such as Wiene’s The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Murnau’s Nosferatu. Drawing on previous literature examining the “narrative” role of colour and lighting that lies at the heart of German Expressionism and interacting with Anthony Vidler’s analysis of architecture and décor as embodiment of states of the body and states of the mind through the geometries of the setting, this article discusses how Argento’s use of a highly artificial colour palette and references to Art Deco and Art Nouveau in Suspiria are granted the same “expressionist” function, both acting as projections of metaphorical bodily and mental types within the film to such an extent as to determine the progress of the story itself as well as to articulate its various subtleties.