Stan Brakhage, “The Dante Quartet” (1987)


“The Dante Quartet is in fact the end result of Brakhage’s almost lifelong fascination with The Divine Comedy. It is a brief but spectacular filmic attempt to find a visual equivalent or rhyme for the four stages of the ascent from hell depicted by Dante: divided into ‘Hell Itself,’ ‘Hell Spit Flexion,’ ‘Purgation,’ and ‘Existence is Song.’ For Brakhage, this visualization is achieved by ‘bringing down to earth Dante’s vision, inspired by what’s on either side of one’s nose and right before the eyes: a movie that reflects the nervous system’s basic sense of being.’ Thus, his vision of Dante is experiential, grounded in the transformative realities of earthly existence; for Brakhage ‘heaven’ or ‘god’ is to be found in the physical reality or materiality of the world.”    –Adrian Danks, Senses of Cinema, July 2004