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  • The Symbolic Meanings of Colours and Motifs of Fairy Tales in Dario Argento’s Film "Suspiria"


    Research Papers22 Art

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ID number:990129
Published: 21.06.2010.
Language: English
Level: College/University
Literature: 8 units
References: Not used
Table of contents
Nr. Chapter  Page.
1.  Introduction    4
2.  Cinema is like a verbal language    5
3.  Denotative and connotative meaning    6
4.  ‘Suspiria    8
5.  Occultism in ‘Suspiria’    10
6.  The motifs of fairy tales in ‘Suspiria’    12
7.  The elements of Nazism in ‘Suspiria’    14
8.  The symbolic meanings of colours    16
9.  Conclusion    24
10.  Bibliography    26

In the course of work that intended to reveal the means of filmmaking, which help to communicate the meaning of Dario Argento’s film ‘Suspiria’, the following conclusions had been drawn:
The process of image perception is both physical and mental and the ability to comprehend a film depends on learning, which allows regarding cinema as a language that can be compared but not equalized to a verbal language. The same as a verbal language a film language communicates the meaning in two ways: denotatively and connotatively.
To influence the emotions and perception of the viewer Dario Argento has chosen to employ in ‘Suspiria’ colour symbolism, motifs of various fairy tales and political ideas that bring numerous cultural connotations.
Occultism is one of the main themes of the film that manifests itself through various actions performed by the characters. Occultism in ‘Suspiria’ is mainly related to the changing of the course of events caused by the instructors of the Dance Academy who are also the members of coven lead by the powerful witch Helena Marcos.
‘Suspiria’ contains a significant amount of fairy tale motifs. The characters and events of the film can be compared to such fairy tales as “The Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, “The Snow Queen” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. Various elements and characters of the film correspond to the characters of the fairy tales. For instance, Suzy’s character resembles the protagonists of all three fairy tales- Snow White, Gerda and Alice. , Helena Marcos is the evil Queen and Mark is Kay from the ‘Snow Queen’. Other fairy tale elements such as the glowing eyes, the beating heart, sleepiness and broken mirrors are also present in the film.
The obvious elements of Nazism in ‘Suspiria’ are mostly related to the character of Miss Tanner who expresses her intolerance towards anyone who differs from others or is physically or mentally disabled. Miss Tanner is cruel towards Pavlo and the blind music teacher Daniel. Daniel is involved in several other actions that may have connotations with Nazism, such as his tragic death in the square that clearly resembles the cult sites of Nazi Party.

The dominant means of conveying the message of the film is employing the colours and their symbolic meanings in ‘Suspiria’. The main colours seen in the film are: red that signifies power of Helena Marcos, Suzy’s courage as well as the danger that the girl has to confront; purple that signifies Suzy’s femininity and her need for care; white that signifies contact with ancestral spirits as well as innocence; green that signifies the dancers’ greed for money, Dr. Frank Mandel’s youth and intelligence and Suzy’s health problems; black that symbolizes occultism and the unknown; blue symbolizes Suzy’s various revelations; the combination of red, yellow and green correspond to the meanings of traffic lights- ‘stop’, ‘be prepared’ and ‘go’.
Regardless of all the means of filmmaking being based on theoretical material about symbolic meaning of colours, ‘Suspiria’ can be interpreted differently by various viewers.

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