Peter Greenaway & Tom Phillips, “A TV Dante” (1989)

peter-greenaway-tom-phillips-a-tv-dante-1989“Based on Dante Alighieri’s poem, The Inferno, Peter Greenaway’s A TV Dante is a daring, unique, and genuinely brilliant work of art.
“Rather than dispensing with the actual text of The Inferno and depicting the actions its central characters, Dante (Bob Peck) and Virgil (John Gielgud), are described as performing, Greenaway instead provides the viewer with a recitation by his actors of an English translation of the first eight cantos of the poem.
Even the visual elements that accompany their words do not portray the characters’ activities. Instead, the director unfolds to the viewer a variety of evocative images, including visions of hell, the faces of his protagonists speaking their lines, superimposed designs, intertitles, and inset screens. The last of these are often windows which each contain the head of some academic or critic who is thus able to make comments on particular aspects of Dante’s poem, his religion, or the world in which he lived. With his presentation of this complex universe of elegant words and gorgeous but horrific images, the director has fashioned a potent masterpiece that is not only remarkably beautiful but also profoundly disturbing.”    —Movierapture