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Dante's Inferno Film Series Heats up the Getty

On view through Aug. 12, the series will focus on three interpretations of Inferno, one of three parts that make up Dante Alighieri’s epic poem.

This summer, the Getty will turn up the heat with three films that portray the hellish underworld of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. Two of the films will be screened on 35mm film, and will also include live musical accompaniment by composer Michael Mortilla. The film series complements the exhibition Heaven, Hell, and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages, on view through Aug. 12.

The series will focus on three interpretations of Inferno, one of three parts that make up Dante’s epic poem. Written between 1300 and 1321, the first fully illustrated version of the poem was created in 1487. Since then, illustrators, painters, and (finally) filmmakers have been continually drawn to interpret the "nine circles of hell." The films being screened include the fairly literal, yet cinematically momentous interpretation of L'Inferno (1911); the gritty social(ist) commentary of Dante's Inferno (1924); and the live-action puppetry and postmodern renderings of Dante's Inferno (2007).

“This is an excellent opportunity for visitors to view these films, some of which are extremely rare,” explains Laurel Kishi, public programs manager at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Many people are united by their fascination with hell, and Inferno offers one of the most memorable and vivid interpretations ever written. These three films provide a visual accompaniment to Dante’s already powerful poetry.”

Film screenings will be held at the Getty Center’s Harold M. Williams Auditorium. Events are free, but reservations are required. Call (310) 440-7300 or visit www.getty.edu/museum/programs/performances/dantes_inferno_films.html for additional information and to reserve seats.

 

Dante’s Inferno Film Schedule:

  • L'Inferno
    Date: Saturday, June 23
    Time: 3:00 p.m.
    Directed by Giuseppe de Liguoro
    (Italy, 1911, 35mm, 71 min.)

The first Italian "epic," loosely inspired by Dante's poem and Gustave Doré's illustrations, could be considered one of the first international blockbusters. This very rare tinted 35mm print is courtesy of the British Film Institute. Silent with live musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla.

  • Dante's Inferno
    Date: Saturday, June 23
    Time: 7:00 p.m.
    Directed by Sean Meredith
    (USA, 2007, HDCAM, 88 min.)

Nearly one hundred years after Giuseppe de Liguoro created his L'Inferno, Los Angeles artist Sandow Birk paired up with writer Marcus Sanders to create an exquisite book based on Dante's Inferno. The publication is inspired by engravings by Gustave Doré, the great French illustrator. Director Sean Meredith and a team of artists led by Birk worked for five years to animate the work. Dante's masterpiece is interpreted using exquisitely hand-drawn puppets and handmade special effects, set in a post-apocalyptic urban universe. Featuring the voices of James Cromwell, Dermot Mulroney, and Martha Plimpton.

  • Dante's Inferno
    Date: Sunday, June 24
    Time: 3:00 p.m.
    Directed by Henry Otto
    (USA, 1924, 35mm, 55 min.)

Don’t miss this rare chance to see a fairly unknown film that has been meticulously preserved by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Dante's Inferno is modernized and presented as a parable and moral tale. Set in a pre-Depression urban landscape and channeling a bit of Dickens as well as Dante, the film foretells what will happen to a greedy landlord if he doesn't reform. Silent with live musical accompaniment by Michael Mortilla.

Preserved by the Museum of Modern Art with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Film Foundation.

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