Monday, May 13, 2019

L'inferno (1911)

L'inferno (1911) is the second feature-length film and the first from Italy. from Wikipedia:
An international success, it took in more than $2 million in the United States, where its length gave theater owners an excuse for raising ticket prices. For this reason, L'Inferno was arguably the first true blockbuster in all of cinema. Today it is regarded by many scholars as the finest film adaptation of any of Dante's works to date.

You can read Dante's Inferno in English translation illustrated by Gustave Dore here. It begins:
IN the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray
Gone from the path direct: and e’en to tell
It were no easy task, how savage wild
That forest, how robust and rough its growth,
Which to remember only, my dismay
Renews, in bitterness not far from death.
Yet to discourse of what there good befell,
All else will I relate discover’d there.
How first I enter’d it I scarce can say,
Such sleepy dullness in that instant weigh’d
My senses down, when the true path I left,
But when a mountain’s foot I reach’d, where clos’d
The valley, that had pierc’d my heart with dread,
I look’d aloft, and saw his shoulders broad
Already vested with that planet’s beam,
Who leads all wanderers safe through every way.

Then was a little respite to the fear,
That in my heart’s recesses deep had lain,
All of that night, so pitifully pass’d:
And as a man, with difficult short breath,
Forespent with toiling, ’scap’d from sea to shore,
Turns to the perilous wide waste, and stands
At gaze; e’en so my spirit, that yet fail’d
Struggling with terror, turn’d to view the straits,
That none hath pass’d and liv’d. My weary frame
After short pause recomforted, again
I journey’d on over that lonely steep,
The hinder foot still firmer. Scarce the ascent
Began, when, lo! a panther, nimble, light,
And cover’d with a speckled skin, appear’d,
Nor, when it saw me, vanish’d, rather strove
To check my onward going; that ofttimes
With purpose to retrace my steps I turn’d.

The hour was morning’s prime, and on his way
Aloft the sun ascended with those stars,
That with him rose, when Love divine first mov’d
Those its fair works: so that with joyous hope
All things conspir’d to fill me, the gay skin
Of that swift animal, the matin dawn
And the sweet season. Soon that joy was chas’d,
And by new dread succeeded, when in view
A lion came, ’gainst me, as it appear’d,
With his head held aloft and hunger-mad,
That e’en the air was fear-struck. A she-wolf
Was at his heels, who in her leanness seem’d
Full of all wants, and many a land hath made
Disconsolate ere now. She with such fear
O’erwhelmed me, at the sight of her appall’d,
That of the height all hope I lost. As one,
Who with his gain elated, sees the time
When all unwares is gone, he inwardly
Mourns with heart-griping anguish; such was I,
Haunted by that fell beast, never at peace,
Who coming o’er against me, by degrees
Impell’d me where the sun in silence rests.

While to the lower space with backward step
I fell, my ken discern’d the form one of one,
Whose voice seem’d faint through long disuse of speech.
When him in that great desert I espied,
“Have mercy on me!” cried I out aloud,
“Spirit! or living man! what e’er thou be!”


  1. I read excerpts of The Inferno in college. Go me!

    1. Mother had the Divine Comedy with the Dore illustrations, and I discovered it in junior high school. I was so intrigued by the illustrations I read the entire book. I don't remember us ever studying it in high school or college.

  2. I've always wanted to learn Italian just so I could read it in Italian. A quote from my most favourite movie ever - Enchanted April - the straight laced older lady says her Italian is of the Dante type & not the type cooks understand ... they are staying at a castle in Italy.

    1. The reason I chose French in high school was because I kept running across quotes I was helpless in the face of. I wish I had taken becoming conversant in another language seriously.

  3. That is an interesting film. It seemed a little campy to me but I know it is a time period, limited technology and style thing. It's interesting it was the first blockbuster as that was a lot of money back then. (As it is even now). Thanks for sharing, It is always cool to see what creative endeavors people took at different times.

    1. It's no wonder that the difference in style between silents and talkies made it hard for a lot of actors to make the switch. We might could learn some editing for time from those old films. I've been surprised to see how many of the modern westerns are over 2 hours long ;)

  4. I had to read Dante's Inferno in high school. I hope to watch this soon.

    BTW, I also tried to link you to T, and I couldn't either. I can't imagine why not. This hasn't happened to me for a long time.

    1. I finally got it to work. Who knows what was up lol Thanks for trying to link me :)

  5. We had to read this at school, and it wasn't quite to my taste. But I've bookmarked the film for one of those days when I might have time.... Valerie

    1. I was always fascinated by it. At least this movie is fair short at less than an hour and a quarter :)