‘I’m Blind, not Deaf!’: Hegemonic Soundscapes and Resistant Hearing in Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Inferno
Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies
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Pollard, D. (2019). ‘I’m Blind, not Deaf!’: Hegemonic Soundscapes and Resistant Hearing in Dario Argento’s Suspiria and Inferno. Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 7 (1), 55-73. https://doi.org/10.1386/jicms.7.1.55_1
The opening sequence of Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) culminates with the stabbing of a young dancer’s exposed and still-beating heart. The overwhelming visuality of scenes like this – filmed in oversaturated colours and relentless, close-up framing – characterizes much of Argento’s cinema, and perhaps explains why criticism of that cinema has tended to pivot around his films’ ‘surreal ultra-violence’ and their ‘surface-suggestive obsession with the aesthetic’ (Gallant 2000: 7). In focusing on Argento’s control of the image, critics have largely followed a lead set by Argento himself, who has said that ‘[s]ound isn’t as important as the image […] I treat it like an actor’ (Cooper 2012: 153). The result has been a growing body of analysis that, going back to Maitland McDonagh’s pioneering book-length study Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds (1991), has focussed on his work’s ‘violently saturated colour palettes, the obsessive examination of surfaces […] the full panoply of non-narrative detail that generates their overwhelming sense of weirdness’ (McDonagh 2010: 21, original emphasis) and the attendant fact that for Argento ‘the gaze itself seems to have omniscience and power – even superhuman power’ (Knee 1996: 219). Despite the recent proliferation of highly incisive analyses of his films (see for example Siegel 2014; Mendik 2015; Schoonover 2016), targeted interest in Argento’s use of sound has been largely absent from the current scholarly conversation. Further, where critics have considered his films’ soundtracks they have tended to fixate on his musical collaborations with Ennio Morricone and Goblin (amongst others) but remain uninterested in the precise and nuanced diegetic soundscapes that he constructs in spite of his confessed prioritization of the visual.
Arts and Humanities Research Council DTP Studentship 2017-20.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/jicms.7.1.55_1
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/287854