L’inferno (1911)

L’INFERNO (1911)
aka Dante’s Inferno
Article 2829 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-4-2009
Posting Date: 5-12-2009
Directed by Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, Giuseppe de Liguoro
Featuring Salvatore Papa, Arturo Pirovano, Giuseppe de Liguoro
Country: Italy / UK

Dante seeks to make his way to paradise, but must pass through the bowels of hell first. He is given the poet Virgil as his guide.

Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” is considered a classic, but I found it one of the least enjoyable reads in my life. For one thing, a decent translation of an Italian poem into English is a rarity, and most of the historical characters we meet are obscure Italians who were probably very well known in Dante’s time and place, but are totally forgotten nowadays; it’s rather difficult to appreciate their punishments and/or rewards when you have no idea who they are. Still, the idea of a filmed version of the first book (“Inferno”) isn’t a bad idea, as it allows the filmmakers to come up with a number of visions of hell, and this movie takes full advantage of the idea. Therefore, this movie is primarily entertaining on the level of spectacle; we get to see the damned (almost all of them naked or near-naked) suffering the various tortures of the devils of hell. Of course, it’s very much a “Christian” hell; I’m certain Muslims wouldn’t be too happy with the fate of Mohammed in the movie, nor would they tolerate his appearance as a character. I do have to admire the ambition of the effort; it took three years to make, and, unless I’ve forgotten something, this is now the earliest feature-length movie that I’ve covered for this series. One problem I had with my copy, though, is the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream; I don’t mind it in terms of its music, but I don’t think scores for silent pictures should have lyrics, as they distract from the action.

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