Dante's Inferno Reviews
April 16, 2012
I'm not really a fan of its political bias (which is basically "Kill all the Republicans!"), and some of it is too crude for me. But the puppet art style is amazing, the characters are funny, and it has really creative ways of updating Dante's punishments into a modern, city-like hell. I'd love to see them do Purgatory.
February 2, 2010
I don't think this is what Dante's Inferno is remotely about. These paper cut outs take some accustoming, but if the quality doesn't get to you, the dreadful humor will. This is the work of unimaginative (What I presume to be) atheists.
August 10, 2009
Once you get passed the badly cut out cardboard puppets you will really enjoy this movie. I thought it was quite funny and crazy.
October 3, 2008
Simply marvelous. A surprisingly beautiful film full of satire, comedy and an obvious respect for it's inspiration in literature. A helluva lot of effort and imagination went into this production. It does deviate on occasion from the original work (to be expected) but it's overall accuracy and loyalty to Dante's masterpiece is commendable. I'm unfamiliar with most of the voice cast but I can say that James Cromwell is probably the only actor who could have brought the appropriate amount of gravitas to the respected and venable Virgil. Although I would have preferred a strictly traditional interpretation (and still do), I found the combination of the original material with contemporary concepts, scenery and persons to be both original and refreshing. It helps to make this work of art more accessible and more fun to modern audiences who may not have the patience to read about Dante's (relatively) unknown contemporaries. From Hitler to Stalin to Strom Thurmond to the guy who killed Gandhi, they all take their rightful place in the Inferno, though not necessarily where you might expect! Another novel innovation was the decision to portray this piece as a dark comedy rather than a heavy theological/allegorical drama. One generally doesn't come to laughter reading of Dante's descent but the laughs engendered by this film seem oddly appropriate, despite the subject matter. The short musical in the 2nd Bolgia of the 8th Circle is a wonderful surprise and a particular delight. Apart from the small deviation from the original, the ONLY complaint I have for this film is it's relatively short length (although it does manage to cover a surprising amount of material in 76 minutes) and it's stand-alone status; it doesn't seem likely that there will be a similar treatment of the seven terraces of purgation or of the nine heavenly spheres. I suppose it's to be expected; the effort to make a film like this must be astronomical and the Inferno was and probably always will be the most popular out of the three (not to mention it's the first part of the book, anyway). Any deficiencies this movie has are left far in the dust when compared to the overall brilliance and beauty of this modern homage to one of the great literary classics.
February 17, 2013
A really interesting take on Dante's classic divine comedy. Very entertaining and modern. Makes me want to read the book again.
December 9, 2012
Interesting take on Dante's Inferno done via paper cut-out puppets and updated with more recent historical figures. At only 78 minutes long it's entertaining enough to keep you watching unless you're a neo-conservative hellbent against those "evil libtards." You may also dislike the near pretentiousness of such an art house endeavor or slightly bored by a sophomoric effort but I still found it to be vastly superior to many films I have been forcing myself to watch. It's a nice break from mainstream movies and many independent films.
August 3, 2012
One of the most unique films I have ever seen, and fantastically done. A surprisingly captivating work of high art, which is quite a compliment considering the characters are paper cut-out puppets.
August 26, 2011
This is strange, Dante's Divine Comedy is one of my favorite books and I usually like Art house movies, I enjoy the weirdness, yet this movie had all these elements and I did not like it.
I understand that Art movies are that artsy, but the element most people liked, the paper cut outs, really put me off. I did not enjoy it at all.
Furthermore, the story which is a classic was not helped by the adaptation. Mixing modern comments with the classical language did not work well here.
I wish I could have gotten more into this film, but I didn't. It wasn't a piece of trash, but I was not convinced nor entertained either.
August 17, 2011
A great modern update to The Divine Comedy. The (beautifully) hand drawn paper puppets are a new twist, but in the end fits the humor and writing very well. Some of jokes may not sit well if you are a Republican, but that's not to say all the humor falls on them either. It makes a point without being crude, and without being overly PC. All in all, whether religious or not, Christian Jewish Islam or atheist, it's defiantly worth watching at least once., and a little something for everyone (above at least 14, anyway).
June 11, 2011
A very peculiar yet intresting movie. Done in a very odd way, it none the less is a great reimagining of the poem.
November 16, 2010
Every Age Gets Its Own Circles of Hell
I feel great pity for Iva Toguri D'Aquino. Yes, she could have resisted--and doubtless died for it. And possibly had her family killed. And so forth. The US government only prosecuted because of public outcry. It was discovered that the FBI suborned perjury in her trial. It's actually believed that she helped the morale of US troops in the Pacific. [i]And[/i] she was pardoned by Gerald Ford in 1977, presumably in one of those popular last-minute spates of pardons Presidents give out right before leaving office. Leni Reifenstahl actually used slave labour, actively promoted the Nazi agenda even without the same threat as D'Aquino was under. And for all that, the poor woman ends up in a stupid puppet movie as being in Hell. Several of the other people shown in Hell have similar stories. Then again, I suppose enough research into the original would show the same sort of thing, but I haven't read it in fifteen years and didn't really look people up in the encyclopedia at the time. Probably would have taken a pretty specialized encyclopedia, or an extremely detailed one.
As is obvious from a combination of the preceding paragraph combined with the title, this is a modernized puppet show version of Dante's [i]Inferno[/i], part one of [i]The Divine Comedy[/i], his classic work on the afterlife. It is the story of one Dante Alighieri (Dermot Mulroney), who is a living human taken on a tour of the Circles of Hell by Virgil (James Cromwell), a great Roman poet and inspiration to the original Dante. On his path, he descends from the outer borders of Hell, the "Damned but Not That Bad" to the very center, where the Devil (Paul Zaloom) munches on Judas Iscariot and Brutus and Himmler for all eternity. Some of the people shown are the figures the original Dante described in the original [i]Inferno[/i], some are variants supposedly known to this Dante, and some are figures of the last hundred years who committed the crimes relevant to the various circles. There are some liberties taken, of course, with the original work, but by and large, it is a simple adaptation. Just with, you know, puppets.
I do like that, while they're looking across the Seventh (Violence), and Eighth (Fraud) Circles, looking at all sorts of people they should know, one of the figures is unknown to Dante and is identified by Virgil. (That would be Nathuram Godse, the man who killed Gandhi and is arguably condemned by only being known for that, more on which anon.) Of course, most of the figures here are supposed to be obvious. After all, they don't list poor D'Aquino by her real name, just as Tokyo Rose. And when it isn't someone famous, Dante and Virgil generally stop and talk to the person to learn their story. In such cases, it's usually an updated version of a person known to the original Dante, someone turned into a person known to the updated one. Though he does also speak to Francesca da Rimini, an actual figure from both history and the original work. She is also interesting as a figure who predicts that another person will end in Hell in their own time.
I have this theory that political assassins, at least, get the punishment they deserve. John Wilkes Booth is, here, briefly shown in a set of binoculars as one of the traitors. Booth thought he would be honoured as a hero, remember--but I guess he didn't know his Dante, either, because he thought he'd be like Brutus, himself spending eternity being eaten by the Devil. Lee Harvey Oswald--thought killing Kennedy (in the Second Circle with Francesca and her lover) would make him a big shot--doesn't even appear in the movie, no doubt so that the makers wouldn't have to take sides in the debate as to whether he did it or not. Godse was here described as committing violence against his country; he, like Booth, was attempting to save it. (He thought Gandhi's appeasement of the country's Muslim population was a Bad Thing, even though only Gandhi had a chance of preventing the level of bloodshed which followed between Hindu and Muslim.) Stalin (Bill Chott) is continually drowning in the blood of his victims; he, too, thought he was doing only good for the Soviet Union. These people were heroes, but only to themselves.
What I find interesting is that one of the places where the updated Dante is confused about someone's presence is a place where the original one kind of was, too. "Sodomites" appear in the Inner Ring of the Seventh Circle (violence against nature). The updated Dante finds an old teacher of his, Brunetto Latini (John Fleck), there, and the teacher says fairly snarky things about the fact that they're there at all. What's important about the exchange is that, seven hundred years ago, Brunetto Latini was the original Dante's own teacher. There is a belief that Dante only put his enemies into the Inferno, and Latini is considered evidence that this wasn't true. And, indeed, both Dantes say that their respective Latinis were good men and good teachers, but according to the rules, they ended up in Hell. It seems this sin is all it takes. The theology of the [i]Inferno[/i] strikes me as a bit shaky. It seems there is a story, I forget by whom, wherein people end up in Hell because the living think of them as belonging there. Maybe that's what poor D'Aquino is doing there.