L'Inferno (1911 film)

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L'Inferno 1911 film.jpg
Directed by Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan, and Giuseppe De Liguoro[1]
Written by Dante Alighieri
(The Divine Comedy)
Starring Salvatore Papa
Arturo Pirovano
Giuseppe de Liguoro
Augusto Milla
Cinematography Emilio Roncarolo
Distributed by Helios
Release dates
  • 10 March 1911 (1911-03-10)
Running time
68 minutes
Country Italy
Language Silent film
Budget Greater than 100,000 Lire[2]

L'Inferno is a 1911 Italian silent film, loosely adapted from Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy.


L'Inferno took over three years to make, and was the first full-length Italian feature film ever made.[2] (The Story of the Kelly Gang, released in Australia in 1906 is the first full-length film). The film was first screened in Naples in the Teatro Mercadante on March 10, 1911.[2] The film's depictions of hell closely followed those in the engravings of Gustave Doré for an edition of The Divine Comedy, which were familiar to an international audience,[2][3] and employed several special effects.[4] The film was an international success, taking more than $2 million in the United States alone. The length of the film allowed U.S. theater owners to raise ticket prices.[4] It is considered by many scholars and fans as being the finest film adaptation of Dante's work to date.

The first music score for the film was written by Raffaele Caravaglios. The film was released on DVD in 2004, with a score by Tangerine Dream. Another DVD, based on a version restored by Cineteca di Bologna in 2006, was published in 2011 with an original soundtrack by Edison Studio in Cinema Ritrovato collection.

As Dante's The Divine Comedy places Muhammad in hell, and following the depictions in engravings of Gustave Doré, the film also has a momentary unflattering depiction of Muhammad in its Hell sequence.[5] This would make L'Inferno one of the few films to include such a depiction.

Nancy Mitford recorded seeing the film in Italy in 1922, referring to it as Dante. She records that it lasted from 9 until 12:15 including two intermissions. She details many of the deaths and tortures from the film. Her description of the film in her letter home is quoted in the biography Nancy Mitford by Harold Acton.[6]

The scenes from Hell from the film were reused in an American 1936 exploitation film Hell-O-Vision and the 1944 race film Go Down, Death![7][8] Some American state film censor boards required removal of the hell sequences from L'Inferno used in Go Down, Death! such as one where a woman's bare breast is momentarily seen.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Welle, John P. "Early Cinema, Dante's Inferno of 1911, and the Origins of the Italian Film Culture." Dante, Cinema, and Television. Ed. Amilcare A Iannucci. University of Toronto Press, 2004. 36. Book.
  2. ^ a b c d Welle, John P. (2004). "Early Cinima, Dante's Inferno of 1911, and the Origins of Italian Film Culture". In Iannucci, Amilcare A. Dante, Cinema, and Television. University of Toronto Press. pp. 36, 38–40. ISBN 0-8020-8827-9. 
  3. ^ Bondanella, Peter (2009). A History of Italian Cinema. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-441-16069-0. 
  4. ^ a b Braida, Antonella (2007). "Dante's Inferno in the 1900s: From Drama to Film". In Braida, Antonella; Calé, Luisa. Dante on View: The Reception of Dante in the Visual and Performing Arts. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing. pp. 47–49. ISBN 978-0-7546-5896-2. 
  5. ^ Plate, S. Brent (2006). Blasphemy: Art that Offends. Black Dog. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-9047-7253-8. 
  6. ^ Acton, Harold (2010). Nancy Mitford. Gibson Square. ISBN 978-1-906142-57-5. 
  7. ^ Dennis, Looney (2004). "Spencer Williams and Dante: An African-American Filmmaker at the Gates of Hell". In Iannucci, Amilcare A. Dante, Cinema, and Television. University of Toronto Press. pp. 135–36. ISBN 0-8020-8601-2. 
  8. ^ a b Weisenfeld, Judith (2007). Hollywood Be Thy Name: African American Religion in American Film, 1929-1949. University of California Press. pp. 115–19, 127–28. ISBN 978-0-520-22774-3. 

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