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The Mother of Tears
La Terza madre

The film's one sheet, first seen in May 2007 on the cover of Digital Variety.
Directed by Dario Argento
Produced by Claudio Argento
Dario Argento
Marina Berlusconi
Giulia Marletta
Written by Jace Anderson
Dario Argento
Walter Fasano
Adam Gierasch
Simona Simonetti
Starring Asia Argento
Daria Nicolodi
Moran Atias
Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni
Music by Claudio Simonetti
Cinematography Frederic Fasano
Editing by Walter Fasano
Studio Film Commission Torino-Piemonte
Medusa Film
Medusa Produzione
Myriad Pictures</ref>Opera Film Produzione
Distributed by Medusa Distribuzione
Release date(s) Canada 6 September 2007
Italy 24 October 2007 United States June 6 2008
Running time 102 minutes
Country Italy
United States
Language English
Preceded by Inferno

The Mother of Tears (Italian title: La Terza madre, The Third Mother) is a 2007 Italian/American supernatural horror film written and directed by Dario Argento. The film stars Asia Argento, Daria Nicolodi, Moran Atias, Udo Kier, and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni. Written by Argento, Jace Anderson, Walter Fasano, Adam Gierasch, and Simona Simonetti, the film is the concluding installment of Argento's supernatural horror trilogy The Three Mothers, which began with Suspiria in 1977. The film depicts the confrontation with the final "Mother", the witch known as Mater Lachrymarum.

The film has also been billed in English speaking media as Mater Lachrymarum, The Third Mother (English translation of the film's original Italian title), and Mother of Tears: The Third Mother.



Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento), an American studying art restoration at the Museum of Ancient Art in Rome, examines an urn found at an ancient, decrepit grave near Viterbo, within which are the relics of a witch known as the Mother of Tears, Mater Lachrymarum (Moran Atias). Breaking the seal heralds the return of the beautiful yet malefic sorceress' powers, and the world is plunged into chaos. A wave of suicides and crime sweeps over Italy's capital as witches congregate to pay homage to their reborn queen. Sarah must eventually discover her latent supernatural powers[1] with the help of her deceased mother (Daria Nicolodi) and confront Lacrymarum at the opulent Palazzo Varelli.[2]



The Three Mothers trilogy

The Third Mother is the final film in Argento's trilogy known as The Three Mothers. The trilogy is loosely based on characters from "Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow", a section of Thomas de Quincey's Suspiria de Profundis. The prose poem outlines the existence of three women that are the personification of sorrow: Mater Lachrymarum, Mater Suspiriorum, and Mater Tenebrarum. Argento and Daria Nicolodi recast de Quincey's Three Sorrows as three malevolent witches who rule the world with tears, sighs, and shadows. When released in 1977 the first film, Suspiria introduced the major stylistic elements of the series, including the bold use of primary colors and elaborate setpieces for each murder. The sequel, Inferno, developed the overarching plot continuities concerning the three central witches when released in 1980.

Nicolodi script (1980s)

As early as 1984 Daria Nicolodi asserted in an interview with Fangoria - alongside Argento - that they had "finished the script for the third [film] but there are a few things we are still working on to perfect the project, a couple of special effects and locations, that sort of thing."[3] Although Nicolodi mentioned her version of the script again in an interview for Alan Jones' book, Profondo Argento: The Man, The Myths And The Magic, it was not used in whole or part for The Third Mother.

Argento script (2003/4)

On 29 November 2003, at the Trieste Science Plus Fiction Festival in Northern Italy, Argento revealed that he hoped to start filming The Third Mother in August 2004 and was currently working on the script.[4] Thematically it concerned "mysticism, alchemy, terrorism and Gnosticism [...]. So many people were tortured because the Church said Gnosticism was heresy, and that will be the starting point for the story. [...] It has been over 20 years since I left the Three Mothers behind [...] and it has felt surprisingly good to go back and explore the whole story from a retrospective point of view."[4] The film was to be set in Rome and begin with Mater Lachrimarum in the Middle Ages.[4] Argento originally hoped to cast a Russian model in the role of Mater Lachrimarum.[4] (He later chose Israeli actress Moran Atias.[5])

Argento also said that a Hollywood studio might finance the film.[4]

Anderson and Gierasch script (2005/6)

In late 2005 Argento went into the North of Europe to begin conceptual work on The Third Mother.[6] Soon after, it was announced that Jace Anderson and Adam Gierasch had been asked by Argento to help him write the film's script. "When we got there [Rome] Dario had already done his own pass on the treatment, and we spent three weeks holed up in an apartment, meeting with Dario, visiting the catacombs, and getting the first draft done."[7] Around this time, Fangoria reported that the film would be entitled Mater Lachrymarum.[8]

The script for The Third Mother was still being refined in February 2006, with Anderson and Gierasch having composed a first draft which Argento then revised.[9] This early script began immediately after Inferno, with a witch who survived the destruction of Mater Tenebrarum's home watching a detective (Ennio Fantastichini) investigating a series of murders at a University.[10] Other tentative cast members were Chiara Caselli as a psychiatrist, Max Von Sydow as a mysterious university professor, and Giordano Petri as a young investigator who takes the case when Fantastichini's character is killed.[10] At this point, shooting was set to begin in late spring of the same year and was to be released between November 2006 and January 2007.[9] However, in early 2006 rumors circulated that Argento had dismissed Anderson and Gierasch after being displeased with their script. French horror magazine L'Écran Fantastique reported that Argento alone would receive a screenwriting credit. On the tenth of March it was announced that shooting The Third Mother would be delayed until September.[11] In mid April it was announced that Argento would return to Italy in June to immediately begin filming The Third Mother, which would be "a big budget feature, produced by Medusa along with a major American company [Myriad]."[12] In May 2006 the title Mother of Tears surfaced as a possible name for the film. According to journalist Alan Jones, this title "was never in the running as far as Dario was concerned. That was the title the originally contacted American sales agent Myriad wanted for international distribution."[5] In the same month, rumors from the Cannes Film Festival linked actress Sienna Miller to the film's lead female role.[2] Also at Cannes, Medusa's CEO Giampaolo Letta was quoted by Anderson and Gierasch as saying "This is going to be vintage Argento. Pretty strong stuff."[13] In July it was revealed that The Third Mother had been delayed yet again until "next November or later" and that Argento's daughter, Asia, had been cast in the film.[14]


Primary filming in Rome on 25 October 2006. In this scene, a mother throws her baby from a bridge in a fit of aberration brought on by the return of the Third Mother.

In mid October 2006, Gierasch revealed that The Third Mother would finally begin filming later in the month.[15] Primary filming occurred in Rome, although some parts were filmed in Turin and at the studios of Cinecittà at Terni.[16]


The editing of The Third Mother was more or less finished by March 2007.[17] Dubbing the soundtrack into the Italian and English language versions of the film was finished on 5 April 2007.[16]

The film's digital effects were created by Lee Wilson and Sergio Stivaletti.[16] According to the director of photography, Frederic Fasano, the film will begin with a subdued cool color palette that will segue to red as the film progresses.[5]

The Italian distributor of The Third Mother, Medusa Film, believed the film was too violent and want it to be edited.[18] Medusa's main objection is to "the depiction of perverse sex in the witch gathering satanic scenes and one cannibal killing of a major character."[19] Argento was asked to re-edit the film to make it more mainstream.[19] It was confirmed on 28 May 2007 that the film would receive a rating of 14 in Italy, necessitating the removal of "all hardcore gore" which would later "be re-instated for the dvd release."[20]


Promotion of The Third Mother before Cannes 2007 was limited. Several behind-the-scenes photographs surfaced, the first official one at Fangoria on 27 November 2006.[21] A short, eighteen-second preview of The Third Mother was released on 18 December 2006 at[22] Several black and white photographs of the filming were published on 19 January 2007 in the book Dario Argento et le cinéma by Bernard Joisten.[23] In May 2007, just before the event at Cannes, a promotional poster for The Third Mother was featured on the cover of Variety magazine's digital edition. The Third Mother premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on 6 September 2007, just moments before midnight and Argento's 67th birthday (on the 7th).[24] The film debuted in Italy on 24 October 2007 at the Rome Film Fest.[25] Its Italian wide release occurred on 31 October 2007, Halloween.[18] In the United States, Myriad Pictures released the film uncut in select cities in June 2008.[26]

Cannes 2007

The Cannes Film Festival requested that The Third Mother be ready in time for consideration as a 2007 competition contender.[5] However, the film was not screened in its entirety at the festival. On 17 May 2007 at 9:30 a.m. Myriad premiered 20 minutes of footage from the film, consisting of eight lengthy scenes, to a packed audience.[27] The preview was preceded by a credit roll and disclaimer that warned of graphic violence.[27] The eight scenes included: the complete beginning to the point where Asia opens the Mother of Tears urn, the arrival of several demons, Daria Nicolodi's "powder puff" scene, a lesbian death scene, Udo Kier's major scene, Asia running through the streets of Rome, Adam James' major scene, and the entrance of Mater Lachrimarum.[27] According to reporter Alan Jones the audiences' reaction was mixed: the acting quality varied and the script contained too much exposition, but the cinematography was beautiful.[27]

Post Cannes

The day after the Cannes screening, on the May 18th at 3:45 p.m., co-scripter Jace Anderson and actress Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni were on The Third Mother discussion panel at Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors convention on the West Coast.[28] On May 27, a second promotional poster - featuring an eye weeping tears of blood - surfaced on the internet bearing only the title Mother of Tears.[29] In early June, a teaser trailer for The Third Mother was attached to Grindhouse in Italy. Camera-recorded copies of the trailer surfaced soon afterward on the internet. The Cannes promo reel was also screened during Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors East Coast convention in Secaucus, New Jersey on July 1 at 12:15 p.m.[30] Cataldi-Tassoni introduced the footage.[30] Pirated stills and audio from the preview surfaced the same day on the forum of the Dario Argento fansite[31] In late August, an American trailer for the film was screened at the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear.

US Release

The film had its US premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival on April 25 2008. This was followed by a limited theatrical run in June courtesy of Myriad Pictures and a DVD release by The Weinstein Company via Dimension Extreme DVDs on September 23, 2008.


Criticial reaction

Critical response was mixed, although many reviewers felt the film, despite its perceived flaws, was undeniably entertaining. The concluding film of The Three Mothers trilogy provided some reviewers with an opportunity to reflect on Argento's career as a whole, and parallels were often drawn between The Mother of Tears and Argento's films from the 1970s and 1980s.

Variety´s Dennis Harvey wrote "This hectic pileup of supernatural nonsense is a treasure trove of seemingly unintentional hilarity...this "Mother" is a cheesy, breathless future camp classic."[32] Stephanie Zacharek of opined that "Mother of Tears is depraved, bloody and unrepentantly exploitive, and the plot makes virtually no sense—it's the sort of movie nobody, save Argento himself, is crazy enough to make these days. It's also so full of life that it dwarfs contemporary horror pictures of the Saw and Hostel variety."[33] Jim Ridley in the Village Voice felt the film was further evidence of the declining quality of a once great director's abilities, stating that "for people who revere the horror maestro's vital work — roughly the period between his debut, 1970's proto–De Palma giallo The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, and his 1990 segment of the anthology film Two Evil Eyes — it's painful to watch the Hieronymus Bosch of '70s horror sink this low...If you believe someone of Dario Argento's proven talent would make a movie so deliberately sucky, feel free to join in."[34] Maitland McDonagh hated the film, describing it as "sadly lacking in the baroque atmosphere and visual aesthetic that elevated Argento above the horror hacks — it's flatly lit, indifferently staged, coarsely violent and brutally straightforward. The English-language dubbing is the final indignity: even the voices are ugly."[35]

Writing in the New York Times, Nathan Lee described the film as "...silly, awkward, vulgar, outlandish, hysterical, inventive, revolting, flamboyant, titillating, ridiculous, mischievous, uproarious, cheap, priceless, tasteless and sublime...[Ì]t may be the most entertaining film of [Argento´s] career...It’s true that “The Mother of Tears,” strictly as visual storytelling, suffers by comparison with the first and second Mother movies, or one of Mr. Argento’s better baroque thrillers, like The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. But it does something as well as, if not better than, anything in his oeuvre: it goes all the way."[36] Scooter McCrae of Fangoria was extremely enthusiastic about the film, and said that "Mother of Tears is a great movie, and well worth the wait. Does it have flaws? Oh yeah, but so do Tenebrae, Phenomena, Suspiria and Inferno, and they’re now all part of the accepted canon of classic Argento cinema."[37] Cinefantastique´s Steve Biodrowski also felt the film was worthy of praise, noting that "the experience of watching Mother of Tears is like a delirious descent into primordial chaos, where the powers of darkness hold sway...As a long-awaited coda to Argento’s “Three Mothers” trilogy, [it] may not be exactly what was expected, but it is perfectly satisfying resolution...."[38]

Argento has noted that he is dismissive of critical reaction, saying that "the critics don’t understand very well. But critics are not important - absolutely not important. Because now audiences don’t believe anymore in critics. Many years ago critics wrote long articles about films. Now in seven lines they are finished: ‘The story is this. The actor is this. The color is good.’"[39]

Box office performance

In Italy, La Terza madre in 2 days at 273 theaters generated $827,000 plus over 1.5 million for its opening week, and took the 4th spot at the Italian box office and to date has taken in about $3.1 million in US dollars. During its first week of limited theatrical release in the United States, The Mother of Tears grossed $19,418 at seven theatres, for a per theatre gross of $2,774, taking 55th place on Variety's weekly box office chart.[26]



Claudio Simonetti composed the soundtrack for The Third Mother, which was completed in early April 2007 after four months of work.[16] He chose a classical style with Gothic influences present in many of the choruses. Simonetti described the score as "very different" from his previous work due to the subject matter of the film.[16] The music was influenced by his own work for Argento's Masters of Horror episodes ("Jenifer" and "Pelts") as well as composers such as Carl Orff, Jerry Goldsmith, and Bernard Herrmann (among others).[16] The score also incorporates electronic music and influences from Simonetti's earlier work on Argento films, such as Suspiria and Phenomena.[16]

The piece at the end of Simonetti's "Mater Lachrimarum" is called "Dulcis in Fondo" and was performed by his heavy metal band, Daemonia.[16] Cradle of Filth frontman Dani Filth recorded a song with Simonetti, (She's) The Mother of Tears, for the soundtrack of the film.[40]

The soundtrack was recorded in the Acquario Studio of Castelnuovo in Porto-Roma. The symphonic orchestra parts were performed by the Orchestra D.I.M.I. The choral parts were performed by the Nova Lyrica chorus in February 2007.[41] Both were recorded in Lead Studios in Rome with the help of sound-man Giuseppe Ranieri. Filmmakers finished dubbing the soundtrack into the film on 5 April 2007.[16] At the preview during the Cannes Film Festival, journalist Alan Jones described Simonetti's score as an "unqualified success".[27]

The soundtrack was released around the same time as the film's Italian wide release (31 October 2007) by Edel Music.[42]


  1. ^ Codacci-Pisanelli, Angiola (5 April 2007). "Bella Strega d'Argento" ( – Scholar search). L'Espresso.  
  2. ^ a b Mackenzie, Michael (29 May 2006). "Official Mother of Tears news". Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  3. ^ Argento, Dario. "Interview with Dario Argento and Daria Nicolodi Taken from FANGORIA Magazine - Volume #35 Issue 4". Master of Colors Dario Argento website. Retrieved 2006-05-28.  
  4. ^ a b c d e "Argento to raise THE THIRD MOTHER". Fangoria. 2003-12-09.  
  5. ^ a b c d Jones, Alan (17 November 2006). "La terza madre". Dark Dreams. Retrieved 2006-12-15.  
  6. ^ Muglia, Alessandra (22 September 2005). "A Dario Argento «Piace Hitchcock»" (in Italian). Corriere della Sera. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  
  7. ^ " article (url no longer working)". Late 2005.  
  8. ^ Decker, Sean (23 November 2005). "Scripters talk Argento's MOTHER OF TEARS". Archived from the original on Unknown. Retrieved 2007-09-23.  
  9. ^ a b "Dario Argento" (in Italian/English). Profondo Rosso. February 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  
  10. ^ a b Editorial staff (17 May 2006). "Set pronto per Argento" (in Italian). Cinematografo. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  
  11. ^ "Dario Argento" (in Italian/English). Profondo Rosso. 10 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  
  12. ^ "Dario Argento" (in Italian/English). Profondo Rosso. 11 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  
  13. ^ "Dario Argento set to deliver THE MOTHER OF TEARS!". Ain't It Cool News. 17 May 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-20.  
  14. ^ "Flash" (in Italian/English). Profondo Rosso. 18 July 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-20.  
  15. ^ Gingold, Michael (12 October 2006). "MOTHER OF TEARS ready to roll". Fangoria. Retrieved 2007-05-20.  
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i Simonetti, Claudio (5 April 2007). "LA TERZA MADRE, NEWS" (in Italian). Retrieved 2007-04-11.  
  17. ^ "Dario Argento- Gunnar Hansen - Luigi Cozzi" (in Italian/English). Profondo Rosso. 7 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  18. ^ a b "Dario Argento- Profondo Rosso The Musical" (in Italian). Profondo Rosso. 16 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-18.  
  19. ^ a b Jones, Alan (2 May 2007). "The Alan Jones Diary: 2nd May 2007". London FrightFest Ltd.. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  20. ^ Jones, Alan (28 May 2007). "la terza madre rating confirmed". Dark Dreams. Retrieved 2007-06-19.  
  21. ^ Gingold, Michael (27 November 2006). "First photo from MOTHER OF TEARS set". Fangoria. Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  22. ^ "CNB Special - preview of 2007". 18 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  23. ^ Arlix, Eric. "CRIME DESIGNER : Bernard Joisten" (in French). Retrieved 2007-03-14.  
  24. ^ Toronto International Film Festival Group (31 July 2007). "TIFF '07 - Films & Schedules The Mother of Tears". Toronto International Film Festival Group. Retrieved 2007-08-14.  
  25. ^ "ROMA FilmFest". Rome Film Fest. 15 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-15.  
  26. ^ a b "Weekly Box Office, Jun 06 - Jun 12, 2008". Retrieved 2008-06-16.  
  27. ^ a b c d e Jones, Alan (17 May 2007). "La Terza madre at Cannes!". Dark Dreams. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  28. ^ Timpone, Tony (14 May 2007). "IT’S ALIVE! First look at Burbank Fango schedule". Fangoria. Retrieved 2007-05-18.  
  29. ^ Rotten, Ryan (27 May 2007). "New Mother of Tears Promo Art". Retrieved 2007-05-28.  
  30. ^ a b Timpone, Tony (27 June 2007). "IT’S ALIVE! First look at East Coast Fango schedule". Fangoria. Retrieved 2007-06-28.  
  31. ^ Mackenzie, Michael (2 July 2007). "Mother of Tears: an illicit glimpse". Retrieved 2007-07-03.  
  32. ^ Harvey, Dennis (8 September 2007). "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother". Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  33. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (8 September 2008). "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother". Retrieved 2008-06-08.  
  34. ^ Ridley, Jim (3 June 2008). "The Mother of Tears: Dario Argento Clowns Himself". Village,one-bad-mother,458787,20.html. Retrieved 2008-06-08.  
  35. ^ McDonagh, Maitland (Unknown date). "Mother of Tears: The Third Mother". Film Retrieved 2008-06-08.  
  36. ^ Lee, Nathan (6 June 2008). "Mother of Tears, The: Supernatural Stew, Served With Camp". New York Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  37. ^ McCrae, Scooter (Unknown date). "Mother of Tears". Retrieved 2008-06-07.  
  38. ^ Biodrowski, Steve (6 June 2008). "Mother of Tears". Retrieved 2008-06-10.  
  39. ^ Cinefantastique Online: Dario Argento Sheds the Mother of All Tears
  40. ^ Roadrunner Records (10 August 2007). "CRADLE OF FILTH" (in Italian). Retrieved 2007-08-11.  
  41. ^ "Nova Lyrica - Coro lirico - Roma" (in Italian). Retrieved 2007-05-04.  
  42. ^ "La Terza Madre (The Mother of Tears)". Retrieved 2007-12-01.  

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