L'Inferno, 1911 silent film; anyone seen it?

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L'Inferno, 1911 silent film; anyone seen it?

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Editado: Ene 27, 2014, 5:59pm

In my meandering vis-a-vis the Dante course I'm doing, I came upon the 1911 silent film, L'Inferno Apparently, it was restored with a soundtrack by Tangerine Dream and released on DVD in 2004. There are some clips available around the net*, and I must say, it's kind of amazing! There's an interesting write-up of it on this film blog: 1911: A Criminally Overlooked Masterpiece.

The oddly flat black and white of the silent era gives it the feel of the Doré illustrations (which seem to have influenced it a bit, from the few clips I saw) come to life. The effects are pretty impressive for 1911, and really capture the imagery of Inferno. (Though I did notice that Lucifer seemed to be markedly Jewish; or is that just me?) Coming almost 5 years before Griffith's Birth of a Nation, it was a massive innovation in film at the time. It was one of the more ambitious projects undertaken to date, one of the first feature-length films made, and the first ever full-length film from Italy. In its day, it made $2 million in the US as well, comparable to our blockbusters in today's dollars.

Once I've seen the entire thing, I'll share a review here, but in the meantime: Have any of you good folks seen it? What are your thoughts?

*(I am sure the whole thing is out there somewhere, but I have it on order, and am resisting watching lo-res versions of it on YouTube until it gets here!)

Ene 28, 2014, 10:29am

I had heard of it but I have never seen it . I must check it out. Peter Greenaway ( he of The Cook The Thief His Wife Her Lover fame) did a version of the first 6 cantos about fifteen years ago.I think the money ran out after that .It is a strange kind of a hybrid - poetry reading/Documentary/multi media kind of thing. Interesting nonetheless

Ene 28, 2014, 10:57am

I feel the same, bruno -- thanks for this recommendation, Raven, and also, wonderful to see you both here once again! I'll have to track down this version (forgiving its more dated aspects). I wish I had seen it before!

In a somewhat related note, I located this wild and postmodern short last year, during a break in my university library, while researching for my thesis (on Dante, naturally):


Ene 28, 2014, 10:57pm

>2 brunolatini: Never heard of the Greenway piece - I'll see if I can track it down. (University libraries have their advantages...) I'll definitely post a review once I get L'Inferno!

>3 matthewmason: If you find it, let me know what you think! If by dated aspects you mean the silent-era look, I rather like it. I'm curious to know what you make of it! Like I said, it really makes me thing of the Doré illustrations. If you mean the soundtrack, well... From what I've read, reviews are mixed on the Tangerine Dream soundtrack. I'm a little iffy on that idea myself, much as I still love some of TD.... (Would it just be ever so trite to watch it to something like Carmina Burana?)

Wow, that YT is... interesting! I can sort of see a slant on the Commedia, if I squint. 'Wild and postmodern' is an excellent way to put it!

I remember seeing some sort of documentary on Dante a few years back. I think it was the entire Commedia, but I only really recall the bit on Paradiso and the center of the Rose in the Empyrean (which was early on in the documentary as I recall, sort of a 'flash-forward'). I remember that very specifically because they tried to do a visual representation of it, and I can't say for sure, but it looked exactly like one of those vintage glass doorknobs, and once that was in my head, I just couldn't take it seriously from then on!