“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)
“Reyes’ provocative essay film re-imagines the Mexico/U.S. border as a mythical place comparable to Dante’s purgatory. Leaving politics aside, he takes a fresh look at the brutal beauty of the border and the people caught in its spell. By capturing a stunning mosaic of compelling characters and broken landscapes that live on the US/Mexico border, the filmmaker reflects on the flaws of human nature and the powerful absurdities of the modern world. An unusual border film, in the auteur tradition of camerastylo, Purgatorio ultimately becomes a fable of humanity, an epic and visceral experience with powerful and lingering images.” –description on Kino Lorber (retrieved January 12, 2022)
Watch a trailer for Purgatorio on Vimeo here.
“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.
“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)
“Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well-respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption.
“When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.
“An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love, and redemption, Gabriel’s Inferno is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man’s escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible—forgiveness and love.” —Penguin Random House
The 2012 novel, set in Toronto, was adapted into a three-part series of films starring Giulio Berruti and Melanie Zanetti and directed by South African filmmaker Tosca Musk. It was produced and released by Musk’s company Passionflix in 2020. The image above comes from the Amazon Prime Video page for the film (retrieved July 26, 2021; no longer active as of July 2023). Gabriel’s Rapture (Part Two; three-part series) was released in 2021-2022, and the first installment of Part Three: Gabriel’s Redemption (also a projected three-part series) was released in 2023.
Contributed by Margaret Goodspeed