Film: 2032

Feature Drama | 1910 | Silent | B/W


Dante's Inferno. Hell. The devil.
Extracts from 1912 feature film showing use of trick photography for special effects.

The screen text says, 'After 1910 longer, more ambitious films, often derived from famous plays and books became popular,’ this is then replaced with, 'This excerpt from "Dante's Inferno (1912) " show how trick work was used to convey the literary imagery of the original poem,'. We then see two actors on stage, on the floor are bodies, one near the front seems to be moving. We then see a bearded actor with horns coming from the top of his head, in his mouth appears to be the bottom half of somebody, legs kicking in the air, the actor's hands are made up to seem hairy and claw like. We then see a shot of the devil eating a person from a distance.

The two actors from before stand on a ledge looking out over flames. From above two angels come down, a woman and a man supporting her, the actors point at these two. These two then float off and one of the actors falls over seemingly in grief. An actor dressed in white looks at someone lying down, behind him is a sea of flames. The End then comes up.

Text appears on the screen saying, ' Meanwhile plots developed, films lengthened and the feature arrived . . . In 1912 "Dante's Inferno" a five reel film from Italy, created a sensation by running at the Tivoli, London, for a year, here is a short extract,'.

Text in a different type face then appears, ' There Minos stands, grinning with ghastly features,'. The actor playing Minos sits on a rock by a cliff face, he is large and bearded with what looks like a tail prop coming from his behind, in front of him stands a demon holding a trident and next to the demon is a white haired man shaking, two actors come on to the set, one is dressed in white and the other is in darker colours, they point around and then leave with the white haired man. Another half naked man comes onto the set.

Then the text appears, 'the stormy blast of Hell with restless fury drives the spirits on, whirled round and dashed amain with sore annoy,'. The two actors stand looking at bodies that are trapped in a whirlwind. The text then says, 'As dove's by fond desire invited on wide wings. And flew to their sweet nest returning home,'. We see the earlier footage of the two spirits coming down to visit the actors. A man and a woman stand in a room, they are the same actors that played the spirits, the woman is dressed as you may expect a Princess to be dressed, while the man is dressed in what looks to be 16th century academic clothing, next to him is table top. The man appears to be reading from a book while the woman talks to him. The text comes up, ' I through compassion fainting seem'd not far from death & like a corpse fell to the ground,'. We know see the spirits fly away, the actor in the dark clothing faints and we once again see the swirl of spirits as they fly over head.

'Cerberus, the cruel three headed dog on guard over the greedy. They are harassed by his continuing howling,'. The two actors now walk through a cave section where they find Cerberus. Cerberus appears to be a puppet, with the three heads waving around, the actual dog appears to be very woolly. The actor in white hits the dog and it yelps, lying its heads on the ground.

'Rutus on guard over the Prodigals and the Avaricious,'. Rutus looks off the screen and when the two actors walk past he starts to growl. Rutus continues to growl but the actor in white makes a hand signal which causes Rutus to stop growling.

The next part of the film is in a purple tint. The actors come into a cave, they are high up on a ledge. They look down to see a cave filled with bones, three naked and long haired people walk into the shot. Some kind of creature jumps on one of them, turning his body into a form that resembles a mummy, when the mummy form disappears the man is covered with markings and moves very stiffly. Another of the creatures does the same to one of the men. The next part of this sequence is in a brown tint. Men with only a rag to protect their modesty come towards the actors who are standing on the cave ledge, one in a hat and a mask pushes them on. Then a headless figure comes in, in his right hand is a head, the head appears to be talking, animatedly.

The two actors are again looking out over the whirlwind of people, an orange tint is being used which makes the people appear to be like flames. We see the same footage of the spirits floating down only in the orange tint. The two actors walk through a path way that has little stones on it, they come into an open clearing where people have been buried up to their necks and are moving their heads around, in the distance we see the devil eating people. We then see tinted footage of the devil which was shown at the start of the film.

To request more details on this film, please contact us quoting Film number 2032.