The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)

The Stendhal Syndrome - Still 0

LA SINDROME DI STENDHAL

Asia Argento, Thomas Kretschmann, Marco Leonardi, Luigi Diberti, Paolo Bonacelli, John Quentin .. / Based on the novel by  Graziella Magherini  /  Screenplay  Dario Argento  /  Music   Ennio Morricone  /  Cinematography  Giuseppe Rotunno  /  Editor  Angelo Nicolini  /  Produced & Directed by  Dario Argento

.

Hyperkulturemia / Florence or Stendhal syndrome: “.. symptoms that feature disorientation, panic, heart palpitations, loss of identity, fear and dizziness, and beset certain foreign tourists in cities like Florence and Venice, where centuries of intensely vivid art and architecture overwhelm them and destabilize both the grounded space on which they stand, and their temporal mooring in the present.. more vertiginous than uncanny, more existentially dangerous than exotically strange, a ‘fugue state’.. a flight from or loss of the awareness of one’s own identity (from the) emotional stress.”

Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture’ by Vivian Sobchack

.

 Dario Argento is always closest at home when he has a decent psychological disorder to hang his hat upon. ‘The Stendhal Syndrome’ manages to bewitch, bother and bewilder in equal fashion. What most critics and audiences ave hitherto agreed upon is that the first 20 minutes or so are truly astonishing, but that it all starts to come apart at the seams from then on in. This isn’t quite true though, since there’s most definitely plenty more to discover and to be impressed by during that other hour, but it’s rather that Argento doesn’t make it an easy ride. With a plot that involves sadistic rape sequences at it’s core,  a series of truly baffling plot twists, and the need for some seriously outlandish suspensions of disbelief. It takes an audience familiar with the dreamlike qualities of Giallo cinema, European arcane fairytales, and the dark eccentricities of Argento’s visions to cope and stick with it to the end. Ultimately it’s a very rewarding cinematic experinece, though a decidedly disconcerting one.

The Stendhal Syndrome - Still 1

“On leaving the Santa Croce church, I felt a pulsating in my heart. 
Life was draining out of me, while I walked fearing to fall.”

-Marie-Henri Beyle (Stendhal)-

The Stendhal Syndrome - Still 2

On the surface Argento’s films appear to be about fairly conventional horror subjects, populated with serial killers, witches, supernatural forces and the demonic.. but it’s mostly window-dressing we come to realize, a construct to allow for explorations of the psyche and of the Succubus erotic.. haunting the characters sexualised emotions, and  leading the audience into dark recesses. The conceptual subtext then, is resolutely dominant throughout, leaving the plot secondary to visual and emotive concerns. It must be said that over the years Argento’s plots have increasingly become sketchier, still dutifully following the lurid, exploitative traditions of the Giallo genre, but losing much of the sense of pace necessary to create an entertaining journey.. a certain pitfall to this particular dreamlike and hypnotically visceral style of cinema.

The Stendhal Syndrome - Still 3

To some extent ‘Stendhal’ stands as one of the last of Argento’s films to entirely please his followers. In recent years his output has either fallen short of the mark, or else drifted off of course entirely. His latest, an adaptation of Dracula sank unceremoniously without a trace, in the straight to video quagmire.

The Stendhal Syndrome - Still 4

Over the years Argento himself has frequently sighted Hitchcock as his principal source of inspiration, and even explored the subject in his 2005 film ‘Ti Piace Hitchcock?’ (Do you like Hitchcock?) but perhaps Brian DePalma is a more fruitful comparison to make in terms of Neo-noir style and a preoccupation with the more lurid imagery of the Femme Fatale. From the German Expressionistic beginnings of Pabst’s Lulu (Pandora’s Box), to the eroticism of the Italian Giallo Pulps, European cinema has always been less restricted by censure than Hollywood, free to ‘play’ and to explore with a giddy fervour. Attracting American filmmakers, influencing and inspiring in equal measure.. but also scaring off Hollywood investors who would sooner back familiar, tried and tested material, than go out on a limb with something *cough* ‘artistic’.

Untitled-3

‘The feeling is so profound, that it borders on
pity. All this speaks clearly to my soul.’

The Stendhal Syndrome - Still 7

“Horror is like a serpent; always shedding its skin, always changing. And it will always come back. It can’t be hidden away like the guilty secrets we try to keep in our subconscious.” (Dario Argento)

Interstingly DePalma himself has found himself moving towards European productions, toying with the continental in ‘Femme Fatale’, and excelling with his much improved remake of Alain Corneau’s film ‘Crime d’amour’ as ‘Passion’, starring  Noomi Rapace (‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ etc) , Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris’) and Karoline Herfurth (‘Perfume’) in three roles that would make Argento and Hitchcock clap with glee.

 

La sindrome di Stendhal (1996) #2

DREAM-LIKE TV INFLUENCE

Guinness Tv advert : ‘Get the picture’ with Rutger Hauer (1991)

POSTER ART

La sindrome di Stendhal (1996) Poster Art #2 La sindrome di Stendhal (1996) Poster Art

.

DARIO ARGENTO FILMOGRAPHY

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Il gatto a nove code / Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971)
4 mosche di velluto grigio / Four flies on grey velvet (1971)
Le cinque giornate / The Five Days (1973)
Profondo Rosso / Deep Red (1975)
Suspiria (1977)
Inferno (1980)
Tenebrae (1982)
Phenomena (1985)
Opera (1987)
Trauma (1993)
The Stendhal Syndrome (1996)
The Phantom of the Opera (1998)
Non ho sonno / Sleepless (2001)
Il cartaio / The Card Player (2004)
La terza madre / Mother of Tears (2007)
Giallo (2009)
Dracula 3D (2012)

——–

ASIA ARGENTO   b. 20th Sept. 1975 (Rome, Italy)


 

Asia Argento

The Shining (1980)

You've always been here

THE SHINING

Jack Nicholson / Shelley Duvall / Danny Lloyd / Scatman Crothers / Philip Stone / Barry Nelson / Joe Turkel / Lia Beldam / Billie Gibson / Lisa Burns / Art Direction Leslie Tomkins / Production Design Roy Walker / Original Soundtrack Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind / Editor Ray Lovejoy / Cinematography John Alcott / Producers John Fryer, Jan Harlan, Mary Lee Johnson & Stanley Kubrick / Director Stanley Kubrick

 

~Many thanks to Jess Stryker for additional photos~


Glider

‘Some places are like people.. some shine and some don’t.’

The Overlook

..when something happens, it can leave a trace of itself behind. Say like, if someone burns toast. Well, maybe things that happen leave other kinds of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice, but things that people who “shine” can see. Just like they can see things that haven’t happened yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a long time ago. I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years. And not all of ’em was good.’

Danny & Wendy

The Grady Twins

‘Come and play with us, Danny.. forever.. and ever.. and ever.’

Outlining a writing project

‘…The winters can be fantastically cruel. And the basic idea is to cope with the very costly damage and depreciation which can occur. And this consists mainly of running the boiler, heating different parts of the hotel on a daily, rotating basis, repair damage as it occurs, and doing repairs so that the elements can’t get a foothold.’

Overlook Maze

Physically, it’s not a very demanding job. The only thing that can get a bit trying up here during the winter is, uh, a tremendous sense of isolation.’

Jack or Kubrick

‘God, I’d give anything for a drink. I’d give my god-damned soul for just a glass of beer.’

What'll it be

‘Perhaps they need a good talking to, if you don’t mind my saying so. Perhaps a bit more. My girls, sir, they didn’t care for the Overlook at first. One of them actually stole a pack of matches, and tried to burn it down. But I “corrected” them sir. And when my wife tried to prevent me from doing my duty, I “corrected” her.’

Shelley Duvall

‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy..’

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy

THE OVERLOOK HOTEL

‘The exterior of the hotel was filmed at the Timberline Lodge, near Mount Hood, in Oregon. It had a room 217 but no room 237, so the hotel management asked me to change the room number because they were afraid their guests might not want to stay in room 217 after seeing the film. There is, however, a genuinely frightening thing about this hotel which nestles high up on the slopes of Mount Hood. Mount Hood, as it happens, is a dormant volcano, but it has quite recently experienced pre-eruption seismic rumbles similar to the ones that a few months earlier preceded the gigantic eruption of Mount St. Helens, less than sixty miles away. If Mount Hood should ever erupt like Mount St. Helens, then the Timberline Hotel may indeed share the fiery fate of the novel’s Overlook Hotel.’

‘The first step was for Roy to go around America photographing hotels which might be suitable for the story. Then we spent weeks going through his photographs making selections for the different rooms. Using the details in the photographs, our draughtsmen did proper working drawings. From these, small models of all the sets were built. We wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel. The hotel’s labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere. This realistic approach was also followed in the lighting, and in every aspect of the decor it seemed to me that the perfect guide for this approach could be found in Kafka’s writing style. His stories are fantastic and allegorical, but his writing is simple and straightforward, almost journalistic. On the other hand, all the films that have been made of his work seem to have ignored this completely, making everything look as weird and dreamlike as possible. The final details for the different rooms of the hotel came from a number of different hotels. The red men’s room, for example, where Jack meets Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker, was inspired by a Frank Lloyd Wright men’s room in an hotel in Arizona. The models of the different sets were lit, photographed, tinkered with and revised. This process continued, altering and adding elements to each room, until we were all happy with what we had.’

Stanley Kubrick interview (Michel Ciment)

The Timberline Lodge Oregon (Mount Hood) 1

THE OVERLOOK HOTEL

Exterior – The Timberline Lodge Oregon (Mount Hood)

The Timberline Lodge Oregon (Mount Hood) 2

The Timberline Lodge Oregon (Mount Hood) 3

___________________________________

The Ahwahnee Hotel main lobby

THE OVERLOOK HOTEL

Interior – The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park, California (built – 1927)

The Ahwahnee Hotel main lobby 2

_______________________________

Jack arrives at the Overlook 1

Ahwahnee reconstructed at the Elstree Studios, England

Jack arrives at the Overlook 2

_______________________________

Ahwahnee Hotel - Maze

Ahwahnee – Rug pattern & Corridors

Ahwahnee Hotel corridor

The Ahwahnee Hotel Fragment of one of the hotel's original Persian rugs. These framed historic rug fragments are used as decorations

____________________________

Danny - Carpet maze design

Overlook Set

Danny - Carpet maze design 2

________________________

The Ahwahnee Hotel - elevator lobby

ELEVATORS – The Ahwahnee .. to Elstree Set

Elstree Set - Lift

___________________________

 

SOUNDTRACK

 

“Rocky Mountains”
Written and Performed by Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind

“Lontano”
Written by György Ligeti
Performed by Sinfonie-Orchestra des Sudwestfunk
Conducted by Ernest Bour


“Music For Strings, Percussion and Celesta (movement III)”
Written by Béla Bartók
Performed by Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Conducted by Herbert von Karajan


“The Awakening of Jakob”
Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performed by Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki


“Utrenja – Ewangelia”
Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performed by Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic, Warsaw
Conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki


“Utrenja – Kanon Paschy”
Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performed by Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic, Warsaw
Conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki


“De Natura Sonoris No.1”
Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performed by Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki


“De Natura Sonoris No.2”
Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performed by Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki


“Polymorphia”
Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performed by Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki


“Masquerade”
Performed by Jack Hilton and his Orchestra

“Midnight, the Stars and You”
Written by Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly, Harry M. Woods
Performed by Ray Noble Orchestra with Al Bowlly


“It’s All Forgotten Now”
Performed by Ray Noble Orchestra with Al Bowlly

“Home (When Shadows Fall)”
Performed by Henry Hall & the Gleneagles Hotel Band

“Kanon for 52 string orchestra and tape”
Written by Krzysztof Penderecki

View from the solarium in  The Ahwahnee Hotel

“Midnight, with the stars and you;
Midnight, and a rendezvous.
Your eyes held a message tender,
Saying, “I surrender all my love to you.”

Midnight brought us sweet romance,
I know all my whole life through
I’ll be remembering you,
Whatever else I do,
Midnight with the stars and you.”


ARTWORK & STILLS

 

Poster Art French Poster Overlook Hotel July 4th 1921

The Shining - Maze - Steady-cam The Shining - Kubrick 2 The Shining - Still 1

The Shining - On-Set The Shining - Still 2 The Shining - Still 3

The Shining - Still 4 The Shining - Still 5 The Shining - Kubrick


PORTRAITS

Jack Nicholson - Portrait c.1980 1 Jack Nicholson - Portrait c.1980 2

Shelley Duvall - portrait c.1977 1 Shelley Duvall - portrait c.1977 2

———————————–