“The following video essay takes a look at three studio films directed by the genius genre Joe Dante. While Dante’s early films emerged out of the energetic “get it done” approach of Roger Corman, his later experiences with studios were less than straightforward. The essay takes a look at the hybrid live-action animated feature Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), the sci-fi coming-of-age flick Explorers (1985), and the marvelously chaotic blank check that is Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). In the essay, each segment parallels the three parts of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise, respectively). The result is a much more measured portrait of studio relations, from the hellish to the divine.” [. . .] –Meg Shields, Film School Rejects, August 13, 2021 (retrieved March 30, 2022)
Original Sin – The Seven Sins Short Film, dir. Amy Tinkham (2021)
“Original Sin is a modern-day love story about a broken-hearted heroine and her journey through the seven sins and the quest towards the virtue of Hope. The music of the legendary global rock band INXS seamlessly accompanies the film, and ultimately, the young heroine finds true love while the world heals with her.
“The film is loosely based on and inspired by celebrated Italian writer Dante Alighieri’s Inferno and the spiritual journey through the Seven Sins of Purgatory — pride, envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. The Original Sin short film reimagines Dante’s tale through the eyes of Jane, a 21st-century heroine isolated during the recent pandemic, who continues to search for love and the means to validate her soul.” [. . .] –UMe, Cision PR Newswire, June 28, 2021 (retrieved January 6, 2022)
Watch a trailer (which includes direct quotes from the first canto of Inferno) for Original Sin here.
Listen to the short film’s Dante-inspired soundtrack here.
Wandering Star Short Film, dir. Sai Kelly (2015)
“Wandering Star is a short film by filmmaker Sai Kelly. The short film begins with Dante’s opening lines from Inferno, Canto 1 but with a notable difference in that the words “our life” are replaced in the film with “my life.” The protagonist of the film, Dante, is clearly in distress and confused, much like the poet Dante when he appears in the dark wood. As Kelly’s Dante struggles with his confusion, a payphone nearby rings. On answering the payphone, we, along with the protagonist are introduced to a voice who later is called Virgil. Virgil shows the protagonist the most painful and darkest parts of the city where Dante lives. The people suffering “see no way out” mimicking the way in which there is no escape for the sinners of the Inferno. In the end, Dante faints, calls out to Virgil who tells him to run, and wakes up back on the streets of his city a changed person.” –Contributor Cameron Gunter
A full video of Wandering Star and more information about Sai Kelly can be found here.
Contributed by Cameron Gunter (University of Arkansas, ’22)
The Sky Over Kibera (2019 film)
“THE SKY OVER KIBERA is an art film: it tells us about the ‘bringing to life’ of the Divine Comedy in the immense slum of Nairobi, Kibera, where the director has worked with 150 children and adolescents, reinventing Dante’s masterpiece in English and Swahili. And he does so with his poetic and visionary style, interweaving other images with the filming of the play, sequences shot specifically in the slum to carry out the alchemical operation of transforming theatre into cinema. Three teenagers from Nairobi offer face and voice to Dante, Virgil, and Beatrice: they are the guides that lead the viewer into the labyrinth of Kibera, where the ‘dark forest’ in which the poet is lost is more than just a metaphor: in Swahili, Kibera means ‘forest.’ Around them a chorus swarming with bodies recites the tumult of being both beasts and damned, thieves and murderers, devils and corrupt politicians and poets who indicate the ways of salvation: between songs and acting, frenetic races and wild dances, the 150 protagonists give life to a fresco full of moving poetry, further confirmation of the universality of Dante’s masterpiece.” [. . .] —Teatro Delle Albe
View the trailer here.
Image credit Andrea Signori
Contributed by Silvia Valisa (Florida State University)
Leah Yananton’s Surviving Me: The Nine Circles of Sophie (2015)
“I made Surviving Me because I found from my own experience as an undergrad, that the pressure on our college campuses for women to be hypersexual is damaging to everyone. During my college years in post 9-11 NYC, the world around me stopped making sense and the social scene was full of chaos and escapism, yet in my Medieval poetry class I was reading themes that related to present day. My peers were testing the limits of defying convention regarding sexuality and traditional relationship values, asserting that being liberated meant you were superior to consequences. However, I had the feeling that I had fallen into the River Styx and was swiftly sinking to the bottom. In order to find solid ground, I had to fight for boundaries and integrity and I brought my battle into writing the script. Dante’s Inferno was a constant companion with its focus on behavior and consequences, and Surviving Me became a reflective creative journey.” –Director’s Statement from Press Notes, Leah Yananton
The 2015 film was directed and written by Leah Yananton and released by Longtale Films. Contributor Alan R. Perry notes that the film is laced throughout with indirect references to Inferno, and the story line is accompanied by Blake’s watercolors, as is also visible in the movie poster at left.
Contributed by Alan R. Perry (Gettysburg College)