L’Inferno (1911)

L'Inferno Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

L’Inferno Movie Review

L’Inferno is a 1911 Italian silent fantasy drama film directed by Francesco Bertolini. It is pretty stupendous as one of the oldest surviving feature length films.

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The Poets climb down the shaggy sides of the monster, Lucifer,

to reach the subtler-ranean way

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L'Inferno Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

It is an adaptation of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy. The story itself is of course powerful and I really liked it here. It is pretty well adapted for film and it succeeds as a solid adaptation. It is detailed in descriptions, it is visually arresting and it is overall pretty engaging and interesting.

However, L’Inferno has one big problem that really hurt the movie and that is its use of intertitles that is not only overabundant, but at times even unnecessary. Also, the length/running time of the intertitles is too prolonged and thus you end up with a movie that is almost half of the running time in intertitles. That was troublesome as, no matter how interesting those descriptive passages were, they were still too descriptive. A movie shouldn’t be that descriptive and a movie should show more than tell and this is a classic example of a film that mostly tells its plot, rather than show it.

And that was a huge shame as, when shown, the film is actually pretty good. The effects here are so phenomenal and absolutely astounding and groundbreaking for its time that it really bothered me that they decided to cut back on that as they clearly could have made more use of its visuals which are awesome.

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L'Inferno Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

The second half is better in that regard as you have many intriguing visuals and imagery. Really, the imagery in L’Inferno is so powerful and instantly recognizable and a groundbreaking achievement in cinema. The apparitions are so well executed, the nudity is well handled, the various fantastical creatures are so well imagined and depicted and the film most of all succeeds as a good early fantasy flick.

But it doesn’t particularly succeed as a drama unfortunately. Whereas its fantasy elements are fascinating, its dramatic elements aren’t which is why the second half is so much more entertaining than the first one. The second one is more show than tell whereas the first one is the opposite.

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L'Inferno Movie Review…………………………………………………………………

L’Inferno is the oldest feature film that I’ve seen up to this point and I have to say that I really respect it. It isn’t great or even very good, but it is pretty solid with the level of greatness achieved in more than a couple of sequences. The score in the version I’ve seen is too modern and annoying, but the directing is solid, the pacing is mostly good and the running time is quite short, but rewarding in terms of storytelling as a lot happens during its seventy minutes. The film should have had a more emotional tone to it and it feels rather cold at times. The same can be said for the characterization as the characters are forgettable. The script is good, but as I said, the dialogue and the explanations are overly abundant and even unnecessary. Thanks to all of those reasons, it is a deeply flawed movie, but because the visual effects are so great, its adapted screenplay is quite solid and the imagery is powerful, it is still pretty solid and memorable.

L’Inferno is such a solid and at times respectable, but also deeply flawed movie. It has astounding visual effects for its time, the imagery is so striking and powerful, it is solidly adapted and it is mostly quite good, but the intertitles are overly abundant and at times too descriptive, too long and frankly unnecessary and seriously affecting the movie that should have shown more than just told its story. But for being one of the first surviving feature length films, it is quite solid and even stupendous.

My Rating – 3.5

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Posted in 1910s, 1911, Drama, Fantasy, FILM DECADES, Foreign, Italian, MOVIE REVIEWS, Silent and tagged , , , , , , , .

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