“Dante’s Inferno: Navigating the Complexities of Hell in As Above, So Below

These words scrawled across the walls beneath the Paris Catacombs mark the entrance to Hell for the characters in As Above, So Below. They herald in a nightmarish final act. The very same words that mark the gates to Hell in writer Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his epic poem of Divine ComedyInferno tells of Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. Their journey begins on Good Friday, and the pair emerges from Hell early on Easter morning under a starry sky. Though As Above, So Below draws from various mythologies, it’s Dante’s Inferno and its complex rendering of Hell that most closely mirrors protagonist Scarlett Marlowe’s quest, making for an atypical found footage film that offers impressively layered world-building.

[. . .]

The only way out is down. That they descend through a well is significant. Scarlett explains the phrase “as above, so below” is the key to all magic. What happens in one reality occurs in another, presenting a bizarre mirror-like symmetry to their voyage. The group begins by climbing down a well, and they end it by going down another well. In Inferno, wells play a part in getting Dante and his guide to the eighth and ninth circles. Later, Dante and Virgil finally reach the center of Hell and begin their escape by continuing downward. Dante is convinced they’re returning to Hell, only to realize gravity has changed, and they’re climbing up to the surface. Dante, half-way through his life, begins his journey spiritually lost. More than just a guide to Hell, Virgil becomes his guide to virtue and mortal. That’s mirrored in Scarlett, reckless and reeling from the loss of her father, and George, the strict rule-abiding ethical anchor. Much of George’s fear for breaking the law stems from spending time in a Turkish prison before the events of the film, which also parallel’s Virgil in that he detailed his personal trip through Hell in his poem Aeneid. ”    –Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting, April 10, 2020

See our original post on As Above, So Below here.

Dig In

“Something’s Awry Productions is a small animation studio that has worked with Funny or Die, NBC Universal, Disney, and even LEGO. Now, they have a new animated short they’re trying to make called Dig In about a boy who dives into his giant birthday cake in something reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno.

“‘Dig In is a 7-minute CG animation about a boy who receives a birthday cake so huge that he has to descend through its layers, in the style of Dante’s Inferno, to rescue his pet lizard. He travels through 9 distinct layers of a cake where the stakes get higher as he gets closer to the bottom.'”    –Tommy Williams, GeekTyrant, April 6, 2020

“Dante’s Inferno as Limericks and Comics”

“Circle I (the unbaptised)

Underway with the underworld herewith,
and I’m with – no, you’re with – fine, we’re with
the dwellers of Hades
born BCs, not ADs –
not all, but the ones you’d have beer with.

[. . .]

Circle VII

‘By these treestumps, my Master, what’s signified?’
‘These souls are eternally lignified.
We saw others scream
in an ichorous stream:
for the violent, no ending is dignified.’

Circle VIII

The fraudsters inhabit these cum-pits,
the forgers and classical strumpets.
And going down levels
we stumble on devils
whose derrières double as trumpets”    –Harry Cochrane and Leonardo Cardini, The Florentine, February 26, 2020

 

Journey Through Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell – Led by Sherman Irby

“Last week we introduced you to the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s Music of Wayne Shorter and indicated that we’d cover more releases from their label. This installment is a suite of seven movements composed and conducted by the JLCO’s lead alto saxophonist, Sherman Irby, Inferno was performed live in 2012 and captured on this recording. It’s Irby’s interpretation of Dante’s epic 14th-century poem of the same name, which follows the author on his imagined, harrowing journey through the nine circles of Hell. To say it’s incendiary (pardon the reference) completely understates the passion of these performances.

“At the heart of the piece is the horn who plays the central character, the late baritone saxophonist that Irby recalls fondly, ‘I wrote this act for Joe Temperley,’ Irby remarks. ‘He was the band’s elder statesman and musical guide for almost 30 years. It was my honor to feature his beautiful, passionate sound as the voice of the central character, Dante.’ This is not an unusual gesture as bandmate, trombonist Chris Crenshaw says, ‘Sherman cares for his brethren, and he cares about this music, and that goes a long way.’ Besides, featuring his bandmates liberally in solos, (Movement V has six of them for example), this music is intelligent, unique, moody and ultimately swings crazily.” [. . .]    –Jim Hynes, Glide Magazine, February 6, 2020

Contributed by Trey Turney (The Bolles School, ’22)

CATS Review: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here” by Scott Wampler

In his review of Cats (2019), Scott Wampler titles his piece “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here” to signify the negative contents of his review. Wampler writes:

“The cats are introducing themselves, by the way, as a means for auditioning for death. We learn early on that one of them will soon be selected to die and ascend to The Heavyside Layer (which is basically the cats’ version of Heaven), and the entire movie is about finding out which of these gigantic assholes will win the Big Prize. Along the way there are pratfalls, screaming, terrible puns, bullying (again, these cats are giant dicks to each other) and a truly shocking number of crotch shots. Whatever circle of Hell this is, it’s an incredibly unpleasant place. At first it’s kind of funny – you honestly can’t believe what’s happening onscreen, that anyone would have spent roughly $100M bringing this abomination into the world – but soon enough its commitment to sensory overload becomes overwhelming. At a certain point, I felt like I was going insane.” [. . .]    –Scott Wampler, Birth. Movies. Death., December 20, 2019.

Contributed by Su Ertekin-Taner (The Bolles School, ’22)

Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 8 (2013)

On the ITV drama Downton Abbey, in season three, episode eight, Matthew Crawley says “This is like the outer circle from Dante’s Inferno!” (Downton Abbey, ITV, February 10, 2013)

Contributed by Victoria Nicholls (The Bolles School, ’22)

You Season 2, Episode 1 – “A Fresh Start” (2019)

On the Netflix drama You, in the season two premiere “A Fresh Start” the main character Joe/Will says “..if LA is hell, the LA DMV is surely the ninth circle.” (You, Netflix, December 26, 2019)

Contributed by Faeryn Lee (The Bolles School, ’22)

The R Inferno

“Abstract: If you are using R and you think you’re in hell, this is a map for you.

[. . .]

We arrive at the third Circle, filled with cold, unending rain. Here stands Cerberus barking out of his three throats. Within the Circle were the blasphemous wearing golden, dazzling cloaks that inside were all of lead – weighing them down for all of eternity. This is where Virgil said to me, ‘Remember your science – the more perfect a thing, the more its pain or pleasure.'”    –Patrick Burns, Burns Statistics, April 30, 2011

Learn more about R, the programming language, here.

Learn more about The R Inferno here.

“The Seven Circles of Dishwashing Hell”

“I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but sometimes, even the most mundane of chores becomes epic to me. Dante Alighieri may have been writing about Hell in his Inferno, but it seems just like dishwashing to me.

Every night after dinner, it goes something like this:

Limbo – Some people think dinner is over. Some people just finally sat down to eat 30 seconds ago. No one is actively clearing the table, but some dishes are in the sink.

[. . .]

Gluttony – So I ate the brownies and ice cream. And it became like the mud Virgil (Dante’s guide in the underworld, you’ll recall) fed to the three mouths of Cerberus.

[. . .]

Violence – A river of blood (how my hands feel right now) is where Dante finds those who are violent to their neighbor. Gnarled thorny trees (how my hands feel) are those who are violent to themselves. The great plain of burning sand (does anyone have any Bag Balm? I think the skin on my hands needs revitalizing!) is what awaits those who are violent toward God.

[. . .]

The absolute center of hell – Like Lucifer, half submerged in the ice lake, one last thing remains in the sink: the soggy, stubborn end of an onion, carelessly tossed in the there and causing a slow drain. I pluck it out and head literally to the TV room, but metaphorically into the River of Lethe, or forgetfulness. Otherwise, why would I do this again tomorrow night?”    –Beth McConnell, A Madison Mom, September 10, 2016

Bikini Shopping and the Seven (Hundred) Circles of Hell

“For every advance that women have made in the past eight decades, there has been a commensurate annual knockback in the guise of that supposedly carefree and liberating item, the bikini. Compare Thirties swimwear with today’s. Admittedly, the old kind took days to dry – probably never completely reaching peak aridity during an average British summer – while today’s versions wick away moisture in seconds. But is that such a big gain, when Modern Bikini makes such bullying demands on body and mind?”    —The New Indian Express, June 18, 2016