The Stendhal Syndrome
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Stendhal syndrome is a real syndrome, first diagnosed in Florence, Italy in 1982. Argento said he experienced Stendhal syndrome as a child. While touring Athens with his parents young Dario was climbing the steps of the Parthenon when he was overcome by a trance that caused him to become lost from his parents for hours. The experience was so strong that Argento never forgot it and immediately thought of it when he came across Magherini's book, which would become the basis of the film.
Detective Anna Manni (Argento) travels to Florence on the trail of a serial killer (Thomas Kretschmann). While at a museum, Anna is struck by the Stendhal syndrome, which causes people to become overwhelmed by great works of art. The killer uses this disorder against Anna, kidnapping and raping her. She escapes, but is deeply traumatized. She eventually finds redemption and a whole new perspective to life.
- Asia Argento as Det. Anna Manni
- Thomas Kretschmann as Alfredo Grossi
- Marco Leonardi as Marco Longhi
- Luigi Diberti as Insp. Manetti
- Paolo Bonacelli as Dr. Cavanna
- Julien Lambroschini as Marie
- John Quentin as Anna's father
- Franco Diogene as Victim's husband
- Lucia Stara as Shop assistant
- Sonia Topazio as Victim in Florence
- Lorenzo Crespi as Giulio
- Vera Gemma as Policewoman
- John Pedeferri as Hydraulic engineer
- Veronica Lazar as Marie's mother
- Mario Diano as Coroner
Director Dario Argento tried at first to get Bridget Fonda and then Jennifer Jason Leigh to play the role of Anna.Template:Citation needed He eventually cast his own daughter, Asia Argento, in the role. Thomas Kretschmann was cast as Alfredo Grossi because Argento had seen him working with Asia on the set ofLa Reine Margot (1994). Argento was impressed enough by Kretschmann that he would later think of him for the role.Template:Citation needed
Ennio Morricone's eerie music score for the film follows the same tune played either forward or backward.
The painting that Anna literally steps into is a Rembrandt painting of 17th Century policemen entitled The Night Watch. The painting that causes Anna to faint in the museum is by Bruegel, called Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.
The footage of Anna underwater after fainting in the gallery was actually shot in the sea – not a swimming pool.Template:Citation needed The huge grouper fish that Anna kisses was a remote model that was being pulled through the waters by cables attached to a small float on the ocean's surface.Template:Citation needed Mere moments after wrapping the underwater shoot, the fish stopped working.Template:Citation needed
Graffiti artists were brought in to cover the underground lair of Alfredo with graffiti. In one night the group created over a hundred square feet of graffiti-covered walls on the location.Template:Citation needed
This is the second of four films in which Argento has directed his daughter Asia: the three others are Trauma, The Phantom of the Opera and The Mother of Tears. She also had roles in Demons 2 and The Church, both of which Dario Argento produced.
Argento planned on making a sequel to the film which would follow Detective Anna Manni on another case. However, Asia was unavailable so the character's name was changed (to Anna Mari) and Stefania Rocca was cast. The resulting film is 2004's The Card Player.
AllMovie called the film "a sadistic and disturbing psychological exploration driven by the horrifying concept of a rape victim who begins to take on her attacker's dark persona", but one that is "ultimately a victim of its own excess and the director's tendency to overcomplicate a fairly simple storyline."
For its initial release in the United Kingdom, eleven cuts totalling 2 minutes 47 seconds were made by the distributor before submission to the BBFC for a video certificate. These cuts are to rape scenes, violence and some dialogue. The 2005 UK DVD release, by Arrow Pictures, has had all previous cuts waived and represents the full-length English version, although like all English releases it omits the two scenes exclusive to the Italian version. Since the uncut version has never been submitted to the British Board of Film Classification, this version was withdrawn and re-released in a cut form.
Blue Underground released The Stendahl Syndrome on Blu-ray in 2009, which contains the entire film uncut, including the additional Italian-only scenes (still in Italian, with English subtitles).
- The US DVD release by Troma is the complete version of the English language edition, but, like all English releases, is still missing around two minutes of material exclusive to the Italian print.
- The Italian release is around two minutes longer than the English export version, including an additional scene where Anna calls the husband of one of Alfredo's victims, and another where she meets Marie's mother, played by Veronica Lazar (whose name is included in the credits of all versions, even those in which she does not appear).