- I have to pay for it,
- I have to like it,
- I do my best to use E-Prime
Go see it. I mean what I say. Go see it.
Don’t read reviews, don’t listen to anyone else. Just go see it. Sit in a dark theater—alone or with someone you trust—and sit through the whole movie, even through the credits. The whole thing, start to end, to after the end. Go see it.
Why? Because I’m sick and @#$%ing tired of Vancian magic.
What is “Vancian magic?” Well, according to TV Tropes.com:
- Magical effects are packaged into distinct spells; each spell has one fixed purpose. A spell that throws a ball of fire at an enemy just throws balls of fire, and generally cannot be “turned down” to light a cigarette, for instance.
- Spells represent a kind of magic bomb which must be prepared in advance of actual use, and each prepared spell can be used only once before needing to be prepared again. That’s why it is also known as “Fire & Forget magic.”
- Magicians have a finite capacity of prepared spells which is the de facto measure of their skill and/or power as magicians. A wizard using magic for combat is thus something like a living gun: he must be “loaded” with spells beforehand and can run out of magical “ammunition”.
I’m sick and @#$%ing tired of wizards being treated like Swiss Army knives. A spell for every occasion! Memorizing spells, forgetting them when cast, and having to re-memorize them again.
I’m sick of it. And I want more people to see this film and understand what I’m talking about when I talk about real magic.
Now, remember: I’m a skeptic and an agnostic atheist (an antitheist on my angrier days). When I talk about “real magic,” I’m talking about the kind of stuff we humans came up with when addressing the world. Anthropomorphic answers to difficult questions. Giving names to powers older and greater than us. I can be an atheist and still find magic fascinating. Specifically when someone does it as beautifully as its done in Suspiria.
The whole movie is about a single magical act. Yes, others happen during the course of the film, but this one important magical act is what we’re talking about here. And this isn’t a spell. It’s what Crowley called “a working.” It’s a prolonged work of art. A demanding work of art. Something that makes you…work for it. An exercise of changing the world through will.
I sat in a dark theater—as you will—and watched this working unfold. The price it demanded. The consequences. The blood. Oh, yes. There’s blood. And horror. Because magic isn’t like reading instructions from a manual. You don’t read the spell from the book and it just happens. You have to pay for it.
Wait. You don’t know the Three Rules of Magic? Here, let me line them up:
- It always costs too much,
- You never get what you want, and
- You can break all the rules.
Keep those in mind while you’re sitting in the theater. Consider them a compass or a guide. You’ll need them.
That’s why magic is like dance. In fact, dance is magic. It demands more than you can give. Dance until you sweat. Dance until you vomit. Dance until you fall down. Dance until you feel the ecstasy rush through you. To reach that level, you have to pay the others first. You have to pay for it.
And just like the working in the film, the film itself is a working. Art designed to transform. You will not be the same when the lights come back on. You’ll be transformed by what you see.
And that, my friends, is real magic.