Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Three Mothers of Dario Argento

Most men would tell you that they have one mother. Dario Argento has, aside his natural one, three more. Their names are: Mater Suspiriorum (Mother of Sighs), Mater Tenebrarum (Mother of Darknesses), and Mater Lacrimarum (Mother of Tears). The Three Mothers are collectively named Mothers of Sorrow, as they are the ultimate source of the host of countless pains, griefs and sorrows ceaselessly haunting this ravaged world.
But, who is Dario Argento anyway? If you are an italian, chances are you know (primal fear's imprintings can hardly be erased). Quite simply, Argento is the creator of some of the scariest movies ever produced. A name for all will suffice, the terror-filled and blood-stained horror legend Profondo Rosso (Deep Red, 1975).

In 1977, with Suspiria,Argento started the Three Mothers trilogy. The first Mother appeared, an old wicked witch and dance teacher named Helena Markos. A few years later the saga continued with Inferno and the second (unnamed) Mother. Afterwards, a long intermission. Several other movies have been penned by the Dark Maestro, but no word of the third installment. Then, the announcement: The Third Mother, starred by his daughter Asia (yes, the cute and gothic brunette partnering with Vin Diesel in 2002 action movie XXX), will see the light of the day late October this year.

Tremble folk, because the last mother, Mater Lacrimarum, is by far the most beautiful but by no means the nicest one! An old urn containing her ashes is recklessly opened, and there is no telling what will happen next...

Where did Argento got to learn about his Three Mothers? Folklore would have it that they come straight out of the mad fancy of the great English psychonaut, Thomas De Quincey, a character whom we shall encounter again in this blog. In Levana and Our ladies of Sorrow De Quincey ominously states:

Let us call them, therefore, Our Ladies of Sorrow. I know them thoroughly, and have walked in all their kingdoms. Three sisters they are, of one mysterious household; and their paths are wide apart; but of their dominion there is no end.

This is not the entire story. The Three Mothers are old, very, very old indeed. Older than De Quincey, older than Merry England, older than Christendom, and perhaps even older than our dusty historical memory. In a seemingly more benign perspective they were the lunar Triple Goddess worshipped everywhere along the shiny coasts of the Mare Mediterraneum & on the foggy hills of Northern Europe, and whose cult has been resurrected by the poet and mythographer Robert Graves.

There is no denial of the Mothers. Pain, Grief and Sorrow are there, with their mute stubborn questioning. If you escape them in fear, they will chase you till the end of the world, as the Eumenides of Greek tragedy. But, if you bravely look into their eyes, the first light of day will dissipate their nightmarish gaze, and you will slowly awaken from the long, long slumber..


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il sindaco said...


I love Dario Argento's movies...

Polymathicus said...

Then stay tuned: "La Terza Madre" should be out in a few weeks.

PS I have recently watched again a few fragments of Suspiria on YouTube: it is still scary as hell

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