Boris Acosta offers an insightful look into Hell with his documentary, “Dante’s Inferno – Abandon All Hope” followed by his animated version of Dante’s journey with “Dante’s Hell Animated.”
In Sunday School, stories would be shared of the afterlife; if you were good, and followed the Commandments, you would be offered a life in heaven. If you were evil, your soul would be interred into Hell, forever. As a child with a vivid imagination, I took stock in both stories. As a matter of fact, I always pictured hell to be a long, narrow corridor with black and white checkered laminate flooring. I’ve never understood the significance of that dream.
Thanks to Director Boris Acosta, I have another, more insightful vision of Hell. This time, with layers, upon layers of concepts that make up Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno,” the first part of the 14th-century “Divine Comedy.” Mr. Acosta has taken two approaches to tell of Dante’s journey through the Nine Circles of Hell.
Mr. Acosta’s documentary “Dante’s Inferno – Abandon All Hope” looks at the origins and meanings of each of the Nine Layers through interviews with scholars, poets, clergy and actors & actresses as they each offer their interpretation of Dante’s journey with Virgil as his guide. As they descend into the pits of hell, each guest offers an interpretation of the layers.
Mr. Acosta intentionally chose to shoot this documentary in black and white, which I thought was an interesting choice, given that the common concept of Hell is a fiery inferno. It gave all of the participants a chance to be on an even playing field as we descend through each level. This choice made the documentary even more interesting.
Not having previously read Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” I was only peripherally aware of the layers. My upbringing prepared me for what it was, and Mr. Acosta’s insightful documentary expertly conveys each layer’s meaning, enhancing my understanding of the subject.
What I was unprepared for was the beauty in Mr. Acosta’s second film on this subject, “Dante’s Hell Animated.” Here again, the Nine layers of Hell are expertly navigated, but this time with a stop-motion animation style. Dante is voiced by Eric Roberts. Vincent Spano voices Virgil, his guide and Jeff Conaway provides the narrative introduction to each circle. The combination of the animation with these three respected voices made the journey into Hell quite comfortable.
Dino Di Durante’s adaptation of Dante’s original story is condensed into a tightly woven narrative that is educational and a pleasant experience. It is more accessible than the less easily digestible story by Dante or its various iterations, such as Milton’s “Paradise Lost”.
Both “Dante’s Inferno – Abandon All Hope” and “Dante’s Hell Animated” work best when watched together, offering an enriching, enlightening and educational experience. It hasn’t changed my vision of what Hell is, but I am more enlightened and encouraged to tackle Dante’s original story thanks to Mr. Acosta’s own insightful vision.
Both films are being exhibited on the festival circuit where the Italian version of “Dante’s Hell Animated” won Best Edited Film at the Rosarito International Film Festival.