La terza madre
Mother of Tears: The Third Mother
The monumental capitulation to mediocrity that has beset the cinema of Dario Argento from 1990 onwards (with the honourable exception of Sleepless (2001)) remains one of the most perplexing chapters in horror history. Argento’s cinema has for the past twenty years been a creative wasteland. Part of the reason in my view was a steadily building sense of self awareness that appeared from Opera (1987) onward. I think Argento began to believe all of the ‘auteur’ nonsense hype of a number of under researched academic and critical pieces that sprang up in the 1990’s. Along with an awareness of this status came a self-consciousness within the films themselves. Where before Argento explored psychoanalytical concepts and gender issues (usually in a playful manner) as part of the plot dynamics of his films, in the 1990’s these theoretical paradigms began to take centre stage over the plot. This reached a ludicrous extremity in the utterly abysmal The Stendhal Syndrome (1996) in which Argento sought to use an obscure psychoanalytical device to cover up for the fact that the film was essentially a tawdry and grimy rape/revenge thriller with little redeeming value. The revisionist criticism this cinematic offal has received should not in any way convince you the film is any good. This is something scholars, academics and critics do very often - in a bid to be different (usually for the purposes of funding) they will attempt to reclaim those films which are lesser known or have been dismissed. With this in mind Mother of Tears will probably also experience a period of critical revisionism in the future, I wish whoever takes on the task all the luck in the world.