Robert Schwentke, dir. R.I.P.D. (2013)


“There are many descriptions of the afterlife in fiction that can be traced back to Dante’s imaginative journeys. The wacky afterlife universe depicted in the 2013 movie R.I.P.D (Rest in Peace Department) can’t shake off the legacy.

“When a Boston police officer is killed by his renegade partner, he is immediately whizzed up to a questionable Heaven where he discovers that everyone has to answer for past crimes in the thereafter – or join R.I.P.D, Inferno’s police force. The task of the R.I.P.D is to catch ‘Deadoes’, the souls of the deceased who refuse to accept their fate and instead return to the world of the living in order to spoil it.

“The ascent to where R.I.P.D resides is a helical ride for the recently departed, a cocktail of two shots of Inferno, half a Purgatorio and one of Paradiso.  Sitting under the department of ‘Eternal Affairs’, R.I.P.D is run by a chief, half Virgil, half Minos, whose role is to give the new recruit a tour of the establishment. The movie seems to suggest that if you’re not simply visiting Hell (like Dante the pilgrim), then you’re either a convict or an (infernal) law-enforcement officer, whose job is to keep the damned away from the living.

“Dante’s circles of Hell are alluded to in the prison cells of the R.I.P.D precincts and in its staff’s crammed offices. Hell is other people working in the next R.I.P.D cubicle.”    –Cristian Ispir

Elizabeth Coggeshall, “Bad Apples and Sour Trees”

“Among the Times photographs, there is an image of a Black protester in Atlanta, cutting through the smoke, his open palms raised. He cries out, a vox clamantis in deserto, in righteous rage against the injustice that killed George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans. His defiant approach is a picture of the words Virgil uses to describe his charge at the entrance to Purgatory: ‘He goes seeking freedom, which is so precious, as one knows who gives up his life for its sake.’