Inferno [1911]


  AKA L’Inferno. This is one of the first few feature length movies ever, second only to Charles Tait’s The Story of the Kelly Gang, though they were a few in between, but they were shown like serials, in chapters. Not sure, don’t bet on it. Based on the Dante Alighieri’s famous 14th century epic poem The Divine Comedy, more precisely on the first part, Inferno. I must resist the urge to talk about the poem more, assuming anyone can read surely knows a great deal about it.

Virgil (Arturo Pirovano) talking to Beatrice (Emilise Beretta)

  But for the ones who are hearing this in the voice of Microsoft Sam, the poem tells the tale of Dante’s (played by Salvatore Papa) own descent into hell, which is divided into nine circles, each of the circles holding sinners guilty of a particular sin. Second circle holds the ones guilty of lust being thrown around by winds of a heavy storm, the third (guarded by Cerberus, a multi-headed hound) holds gluttons under the never ending icy rain, and so on. You get see people tumbling sacks of gold, being part of never ending fights, gurgling in swamps, others in river of boiling blood and fire, people transformed into trees, people transmuting into lizards before out very eyes, lakes of fire, demons, giants, fields of ice, etc. Wonders to see are too numerous to list without being extremely bored, not just moderately like you are now.

Mountains, with Dante (Salvatore Papa) and Vergil.

  A phrase “loosely based on” get pasted over the Internet, but that’s not true actually, it’s a pretty fateful adaptation, circle by circle. Being like that, it lacks rhythm and a classic narrative structure, but you’d have to be an asshole to hold it against the filmmakers, movies being in their teen years and no feature films to look up to. Even more, the inter titles are almost brechtian, announceing what’s gonna happen next. What we get by movie following the poem closely is a showcase movie, giving not more then a couple of minutes to each circle. The only thing to hold against the plot are two or three scenes showing the sins of the sinners in their age, age being renaissance, which are not only boring, but break the flow and the atmosphere of the movie.

Charon beating naked men with a peddle.

  You really can’t judge the acting, since camera is never anywhere near closing up on any one person. Special effects, if I may be an asshole, could be better, considering what Georges Méliès was doing before and at that time. Though, the scene where men change into lizards is pretty good. But what really could be better, since it predates the medium of film by centuries, are monster puppets, of Cerberus and Geryon. Cerberus looked really pathetic, like a stuffed roadkill. Geyron was little better, but he was shot horribly. The camera work was okay except for avoiding close ups, especially the occasional amazing depth of the field. I’m far from knowing shit about the silent movies, but I was impressed with the scene on Styx, with flaming City of Dis in the far background. All in all it looks great, pretty faithful to the beautiful engravings of Gustave Doré, on which the visual identity of the movie was based. Unfortunately, only men are fully frontally naked in this movie. I was holding my hand near my crotch for the duration of this movie, but tits are never to be seen.

I just need excuses to show naked men.

  What I must mention is the new music they attached. The music by Tangerine Dream is absolutely preposterous, I muted the tone after a minute. The very idea is awful, I really can’t believe they did that. Anyway, if you’re into silent movies, I think you can’t miss with this one. It’s not Caligari or Nosferatu for sure, but being only an hour in length and let’s say fast paced, with out of this world imagery visualized decently by the special effects of the era. If you’re troubled by the complete silence (since you can’t be taking the new score into consideration) put something in the background, maybe Franz Liszt’s A Symphony to Dante’s Divine Comedy. Let me know if something works for you.

Soothing scene. The only one.

I gotta admit, I had to take my overdue copy of the book to identify this one. It’s Minos. I guess it wasn’t the Minotaur who ate all those people.

I wasn’t happy with the special effects in this scene.

Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta, best known for their depiction on Rodin’s sculpture The Kiss


Never ending icy rain.


The depth of the field is not seen on the still. Styx.

Some scene, don’t remember.


Another scene.


Lizard people.

Bertran de Born.

Cain and Abel in the ice beneath the giants legs.


In the background Lucifer chewing on Judas Iscariot.


11 Responses to “Inferno [1911]”


  2. CALIGULA Says:

    I expected more penises. Disappointed.

  3. skrin sa LEDENOM KIŠOM rula.
    ostalo isto više manje. monsteri su smeće, i mislio sam da eć sve bit u nekim ŠPILJAMA a ustvari je po livadama. dur

  4. kako si alternativan :(

  5. predobro.

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