Lost River (2014)

lost river gosling inferno picture“Lost River has been heavily influenced aesthetically by the work of Nicolas Winding Refn, Gosling’s favoured collaborator and director of Drive and Only God Forgives. It looks like something out of a style magazine with its heavy green and red tints.

“But for all the brilliance of the work of its cinematographer Benoit Debie (who shot Irreversible), the fact that the action is set in Detroit, the American city once famous for its cars but now celebrated for its abandoned buildings, seems at odds with Gosling’s criticism of America and its willingness to abandon its past and its people. It occasionally feels as though he is glamorising their misery.

“Recurring burning buildings, and even the occasional burning bicycle, establish Detroit as a place of purgatory and it’s on some lower level of Dante’s Inferno that Gosling has found his characters, the type usually found in the films of Dario Argento, Gaspar Noe and Nic Roeg.”   –Kaleem Aftab, “Lost River, Cannes film review: ‘Dazzling enough to delight Ryan Gosling fans’,” The Independent, May 20, 2014

The still featured above recalls the iconic entrance to Le Cabaret de L’Enfer, the hell-themed turn-of-the-century Parisian nightclub featured on Dante Today here.

Preserving Mont Saint-Michel

 

mont-saint-michel-smithsonian-image-divine-comedyIn some ways, the trip to the top offers a modern version of the medieval journey through life—a kind of Divine Comedy. The way up is demanding: One must pass through the tourist hell of the town below and make one’s way up the increasingly steep ascent to the abbey, where many must pause to catch their breath after one or other of a seemingly infinite set of stairs. As one ascends, the crowd thins, discouraged by the demanding climb, the lack of shops and cafés, or simply held in thrall by the distractions below. Suddenly, as one approaches the top, the views open up—the horizon widens; one can see the immense and gorgeous bay; the sand and water glisten in the sun. There is quiet other than the occasional cries of seabirds.”   –Alexander Stille, “The Massive and Controversial Attempt to Preserve One of the World’s Most Iconic Islands,” Smithsonian Magazine, May 20, 2014

Dante Street in Paris

 

rue-dante-paris-street-sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contributed by Dien Ho

Edmund White, Inside a Pearl (2014)

inside-a-pearl-edmund-white-2014Jay Parini describes Marie-Claude de Brunhoff, a main character in Edmund White’s memoir Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, as “a kind of fragile Virgil to White’s dewy-eyed Dante, leading him with gusto into the labyrinth of Parisian life.”    –Jay Parini, The New York Times, February 7, 2014

Divine Comedy Illustrations by Miquel Barceló

divine-comedy-illustrations-by-miquel-barcelo divine-comedy-illustrations-by-miquel-barcelo

This series of watercolor illustrations, painted by Spanish artist Miquel Barceló, exhibited at the Louvre in 2004.

See Torresani-edu for more information.

Al Dante Publishing House, France

al-dante-publishing-house-france

See Éditions Al Dante website.

“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum (May-August, 2012)

getty-museum-images-of-death-in-the-middle-ages“Denise Poncher before a Vision of Death”
Master of the Chronique scandaleuse
French, about 1500
Tempera colors, ink, and gold on parchment
5 1/4 x 3 7/16 in.
MS. 109, FOL. 156
“Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” at the Getty Museum

See also: film screenings

Yi Zhou, The Ear (2009), The Greatness (2010)

“Imagine that van Gogh, after slicing off his ear, finds himself sucked down a passage into his own brain, which turns out to be the concentric onion of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Then capture that journey with three-dimensional digital imaging software and turn it, frame by computerized frame, into a five-minute animated movie. [. . .]

“She had her first breakthrough when she was taken on by the Jerome de Noirmont gallery in Paris in 2002. Since then, she has had a major sculpture and video projection work, ‘Paradise,’ installed in the Piazza della Signoria and the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, in 2006 [. . .].

“Ms. Zhou’s solo show of video art, ink brush drawings and sculpture at Shanghai Contrasts, running to Dec. 9, is built around her most recent film, The Greatness, a variation on the theme of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“The film is a sequel to The Ear: both star Pharrell Williams, one in the flesh and the other as a sculpted vase, and both explore transience and death. In The Greatness, Mr. Williams’s look-alike vase, shattered by a bullet, disintegrates into a fractured universe while the bullet, like Dante guided by Virgil, travels through visions of hell and redemption accompanied by an other-worldly soundtrack composed by Mr. Morricone.” [. . .]    –Claudia Barbieri, The New York Times, December 1, 2010

Read more about The Greatness, on Vice.

Henri Barbusse, “L’Enfer” (1908)

henri-barbusse-lenfer-1908

“L‘Enfer has been more widely read and discussed in France than any other realistic study since the days of Zola. The French sales of the volume, in 1917 alone, exceeded a hundred thousand copies, a popularity all the more remarkable from the fact that its appeal is based as much on its philosophical substance as on the story which it tells. . .
Although the action of this story is spiritual as well as physical, and occupies less than a month of time, it is focused intensely upon reality. Everything that the author permits us to see and understand is seen through a single point of life–a hole pierced in the wall between two rooms of a grey Paris boarding house. The time is most often twilight, with its romantic penumbra, darkening into the obscurity of night by imperceptible degrees.
M. Barbusse has conceived the idea of making a man perceive the whole spiritual tragedy of life through a cranny in the wall, and there is a fine symbolism in this, as if he were vouchsafing us the opportunity to perceive eternal things through the tiny crack which is all that is revealed to us of infinity, so that the gates of Horn, darkened by our human blindness, scarcely swing open before they close again.” [. . .]    –Edward J. O’Brian, L’Enfer Introduction, 1918 (Gutenberg)

The Thinker Sells For Record Price

the-thinker-rodin“The Thinker is one of the most recognizable sculptures in the world. It even has a role in the film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Last week one of the Thinker sculptures by French master Auguste Rodin was sold at auction for more than 3 million euros ($4.2 million) in Paris at auctioneers Drouot. This Thinker, which is just 28.5 inches high, set a record for any of the Thinkers. This statue is part of a series of 21 sculptures made by Rodin. It was originally meant to be part of Rodin’s Gates of Hell inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. Rodin made a first small plaster version around 1880 and the first large scale bronze was presented to the public in 1904. This particular Thinker was purchased by Emile Chouanard in 1917, the same year it was cast. Another Rodin statue owned by Chouanard, ‘Little Eve’ also sold for a record price of over 2.4 million euros at the auction.”    –Deidre Woollard, Luxist, June 22, 2009

Contributed by Patrick Molloy