Monday, November 23, 2009

Speaking of Missing the Point ...

Here's an animated trailer for something calling itself Dante's Inferno, which, I gather, is based on a video game rather than on part I of The Divine Comedy.

Believe it or not, I do try to be open-minded about stuff like this, but reducing one of the great works of Western literature and spirtuality into a cartoonish -- and no, I'm not talking about the animation -- action movie is a step too far for me. Movies can't even do justice to pulp fantasy, so it's little wonder they'd treat Inferno in this fashion.

Bah.

44 comments:

  1. uhhh... that was painful! I'm very glad no one came up with the idea of making a Gilgamesh movie, since we know how the movie industry treated Iliad.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What? This is awesome! You get to go to Hell, find Satan and KICK HIS A$$!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. To be fair, Dante's work pretty much was the popular imaginative fiction of its day. I'm sure there were people in Italy back then who said something along the lines of, "How dare Alighieri depict Hell that way? That's not what it's like at all!"

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh, BTW, watched the clip after my first comment. That promises to be incredibly stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What bugs me is that they're even bothering to call this thing "Dante's Inferno." I mean, if all they want to do is present a medieval-styled story about a knight seeking to save his love who's lost in hell, why not just do that? Why try to associate it with a famous work whose content and themes are (seemingly) quite different? I just hate how companies like to trade on the fame of certain names and then do them so little justice.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah, but the movie studios aren't interested in doing source material justice; they're interested in making big bucks. Since the beginning they've mined public domain stuff looking for a sexy concepts with built-in name recognition (everyone has heard of Dante, even if no one reads him anymore) to bastardize. Disney's been sticking it to Hans Christian Andersen for decades. Pisses me off.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The Dante's Inferno video game has been the source of much mirth for a couple of months, now. That something based on it looks silly doesn't come as much of a surprise.

    ReplyDelete
  8. " I just hate how companies like to trade on the fame of certain names and then do them so little justice."

    WotC?

    /snark

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's a God-of-War rip-off anyway.

    veri: mispity

    seems poignant.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here's a scary idea: maybe the reason so many movies that adapt literary sources bear so little resemblance to the originals is that the adapters can't tell the difference. Maybe their ability to discriminate is so atrophied that to them it looks the same, maybe even better.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one. I like cheese enough to possibly quite enjoy this film. Of course it might also suck, but I think I will watch it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. The video game looks kind of shit, so I'm not surprised that the straight-to-DVD animated movie made to be attached to it doesn't look all that great either. It looks like they have multiple directors working on it different sections of it, though, so maybe one or two of them will create something interesting, though.

    ReplyDelete
  13. the really sad bit is they advertise it with Ghost in the Shell and Samurai Champloo, both of witch are little masterpieces of animation...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Good grief; next they'll be reducing one of the great works of Western literature and spirituality to a roleplaying module where players can run riot and tank their way to the Styx.

    Heh...

    (Not to say I don't necessarily agree with you on a /personal/ basis, James! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Orpheus went into the underworld to save his wife from hades and is allowed to leave on account of his superlative singing/harp skills (why he doesn't get more credit for bards is lost on me)

    so in truth, this movie is a mismash of imferno and oerfeo et euridice. So the plot isn't completely Hollywood schlock.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Don't take me there, James. I'm still trying to recover from Hollywood's rape of X-Men and Fantastic Four.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Looks par for the course to me, and probably quite entertaining in its own right. I will certainly be watching, though I will not be worrying about its relation to Dante.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I wouldn't pay to see this in the theaters but I would surely rent it for my DVD Player.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I always found it disappointing that John Gielgud's retelling of The Divine Comedy never made it past Canto 14.

    I always enjoyed The Divine Comedy for it's political commentary on the politics of Florence at the time. Never piss off a good writer. His work will outlive you and echo down through the ages.

    [And my favourite translation is Dorothy L Sayers. Not only manages the translation, but keeps the rhyming scheme and structure of the original.]

    ReplyDelete
  21. I like the Iliad- but I must confess I enjoyed the hell out of Troy, this thing looks like teh worst kind of schlock, though. Whatever, if somebody likes it good for them- after all I don't have to watch it.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ha, ha; truly there is no accounting for taste. I thought Troy was pretty terrible, but that this looks rather good. The subjectivity of preference, no doubt!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks, James; that trailer was one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Somehow reminded me of Mel Gibson as Hamlet.

    I love to imagine college and high school students using the DVD as Cliff Notes, as a replacement for actually reading Dante, and then trying to write a coherent essay.

    As for Troy... I read the Fagles translation of Homer's Iliad with my high school English students the year Troy hit the theaters... all of my students who saw the film said they liked the book better.

    In the whole film, there are very, very few lines that are recognizably inspired by Homer. It's like doing a Shakespeare production, but rewriting all the lines to make them less eloquent and interesting. What's the point?

    ReplyDelete
  24. As much as I like Japanimation (what we called it before 'anime'), many of these new $#!^ go up my crawl like a jagged thorn bush.

    If someone made it like an animated version of Gustave Doré metal carvings, and was pure to the book, that would just be so %&%$ing EPIC!!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Weeeeelllll, it's anime, so you can pretty much expect it to be a blenderization of any Western ideas it might be named for.

    Also the trailer reminds me of the "Dragon's Lair" laser disc video game of the 80s.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hmm, I kinda like it.

    I'll get me coat...

    ReplyDelete
  27. Am I the only one who thought this movie would be about 10 times cooler if it had been titled "A Paladin in Hell" instead of "Dante's Inferno"?

    ReplyDelete
  28. "What bugs me is that they're even bothering to call this thing "Dante's Inferno." I mean, if all they want to do is present a medieval-styled story about a knight seeking to save his love who's lost in hell, why not just do that? Why try to associate it with a famous work whose content and themes are (seemingly) quite different? I just hate how companies like to trade on the fame of certain names and then do them so little justice."

    So, what you're saying is that you hated Clash of the Titans? This is an old tradition, and just because it's Christian mythology (or "literature", if you prefer) this time doesn't mean that it should be immune.

    ReplyDelete
  29. So the plot isn't completely Hollywood schlock.

    No, it's not and, again, my beef with it is not that it's schlock but rather that it appropriates the name of part I of The Divine Comedy and then does a hatchet job on its supposed inspiration, clearly missing its point.

    ReplyDelete
  30. [And my favourite translation is Dorothy L Sayers. Not only manages the translation, but keeps the rhyming scheme and structure of the original.]

    The Sayers translation is one of my favorites as well. I know it's fallen out of favor these days, but I still have much fondness for it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. If someone made it like an animated version of Gustave Doré metal carvings, and was pure to the book, that would just be so %&%$ing EPIC!!!

    That would be amazing. Personally, I think The Divine Comedy, as written, is plenty exciting enough to be made into a film (animated or otherwise) without the need to make it "sexier" with the importation of a very modern revenge plot.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Am I the only one who thought this movie would be about 10 times cooler if it had been titled "A Paladin in Hell" instead of "Dante's Inferno"?

    It would certainly be less bothersome to me, although, from what I have gleaned of its plot, it'd still make next to no sense whatsoever.

    ReplyDelete
  33. So, what you're saying is that you hated Clash of the Titans? This is an old tradition, and just because it's Christian mythology (or "literature", if you prefer) this time doesn't mean that it should be immune.

    I was that kid who spent all his time criticizing the movie for the extreme liberties it took with Greek mythology. Perseus was always a favorite Greek hero of mine, so I was excited by the idea of a film version of his tale. What we got was something that bore only the most minimal resemblance to its inspirations. Jason and the Argonauts was more faithful to its source material than Clash of the Titans.

    As for Dante's Inferno, I am willing to accept some degree of artistic license, but, when that license so utterly warps the source material as this one does, I draw a line. That goes for most film "adaptations," not just those based on works I happen to adore.

    ReplyDelete
  34. http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/12/15/

    ReplyDelete
  35. Speaking of Clash of the Titans, did you see that there is a remake?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX1VZ26nCAs

    ReplyDelete
  36. I've talked to guys who do concepting and design stuff for movies. (Not trying to come off as Mister Big Expert, it's just that I've met folks in the biz in the course of my work.)One time I was talking to an old pro, and he told me something that makes all kinds of sense, as sad as it is.

    The reason source material gets so heavily adulterated in Hollywood, is because screenwriters need to be able to point to something in the script and claim credit for it. They can't justify their paycheck if it's just a straight lift of an existing work.

    In the end it's all about business, sadly. The good writers can keep the spirit even if they alter the text, but even they are compelled by the bottom line to make changes.

    This is made even worse by the fact that the people signing the checks often have no connection to the material, emotionally or intellectually. Like "Dante's Inferno" in this case, it's usually just a name they've heard, so they feel a "little" safer about gambling the big bux on a production.

    It's a constant wonder to me how cargo cult fetishistic name recognition can be in Hollywood.

    Anyway, yah. It's annoying.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Not trying to justify anything, I think it's looked stupid as all get-out from day 1, but you have to admit that the actual poem itself would make for exceedingly dull gameplay.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Yeah, I saw the trailer for the Clash of the Titans remake and, all other thoughts aside, I found myself wondering, "Why?" I mean, I'm generally down on remakes, it's true, but there are many things I could imagine being worth remaking for one reason or other. But Clash of the Titans? Really?

    ReplyDelete
  39. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YMTz9AorHQ

    ReplyDelete
  40. How about the Prisoner remake?

    I wasn't happy with it myself, buy you gotta love Sir Ian.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Confession time: I've never much cared for The Prisoner, so the remake doesn't really bug me that much. From what I have read, though, the remake deviates quite significantly from the original and in ways that aren't entirely felicitous.

    ReplyDelete
  42. "How about the Prisoner remake?"

    Didn't watch it. I was tempted to (because of the aforementioned Sir Ian), but any temptations to betray my devotion to the original series was lifted when I saw in a preview that Six was a marketing executive instead of a spy (a plot change that would have had me rooting for the Village!;)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Weird. I just finished watching the new version of The Prisoner a few minutes ago. I wasn't all that impressed, though I like Ian McKellen well enough. I had never seen the original (though that's available through my cable provider, too), so I have no opinion on whether they ruined it. The original novelization by Tom Disch is supposed to be awful, I understand, though his work is brilliant otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  44. The idea is quite interesting but I prefer the video about the game itself. IMHO Anime style is not the best option available to advartise the game(and is not so original since we have a lot of anime and manga inspired by western literature masterpice).
    Furthermore, the original idea about Dante fighting in Hell was in an Italian comics: http://www.fratellimattioli.it/dante2pr.htm
    (The first illustration say: "This time is different, Virgilio... this time I'm here to kick ass!!!"). Very funny ideed.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.