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Why I Drink: Dante's 'Inferno' Edition

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | September 2, 2015 | Comments ()

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | September 2, 2015 |


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It’s being reported (EXCLUSIVELY, no less) that Warner Brothers has bought the rights to a script adapting Dante’s Inferno to the big screen. I would now like to post this quote from Deadline’s reporting (which is representative of every other report you will read on this if you poke around):

“In a preemptive deal, Warner Bros has purchased the original feature pitch Dante’s Inferno from screenwriter Dwain Worrell. Gianni Nunnari’s Hollywood Gang and Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road will produce it together. The project has the studio excited by its scale and franchise potential. It’s based on the epic love story that is at the core of Dante’s Inferno. Dante descends through the nine circles of hell to save the woman he loves.”

Are your eyes bleeding? If not, let’s parse this.

“a preemptive deal”: There is nothing preemptive about paying money for a script to adapt a work that would have been out of copyright protections half a millennium ago if copyright had actually existed then.

“original feature pitch”: I’m sure this is probably coded Hollywood terms, but I don’t care. There is nothing “original” about adapting one of the most famous works in world literature.

“franchise potential”: Those were the exact words when my first blood vessel popped. If they’d used “tent pole”, I would not be writing this because I would be meeting Virgil and going on a guided tour on the other side.

“epic love story”: Wait, what the fuck, now the bafflement is setting in.

“Dante descends through the nine circles of hell to save the woman he loves.”

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Dante does not descend into hell to rescue the woman he loves. There is no component of this in any way, shape, or form. The only way that you can possibly even make that mistake is if you skim the Cliff Notes while simultaneously sniffing glue. Yes, there’s a woman named Beatrice who is Dante’s guide through Paradise. Yes, she’s based on a woman who he idolized in reality, and only ever met twice. There is no romance between the characters, implicitly or explicitly. This is not a matter of interpretation or reading between the lines or taking some stand on what the story is “really about”. I cannot underline enough how completely wrong this is except in simile: this is as accurate as choosing to summarize the entire plot of Breaking Bad as being the story of a bachelor party invaded by werewolves.

It’s like Hollywood thinks When Harry Met Sally is a documentary about the absolute laws of gender relations.

Disposable executive 1: This script has a male character and a female character.

Disposable executive 2: What page do they bang on?

Sheepish writer: They don’t.

Disposable executives laugh uproariously.

Disposable executive 1: Seriously though, can we get the Blurred Lines girl for this?

*and then everyone does cocaine*

So where the hell did they get this idea from? Clearly it wasn’t from ever even being in the same room as a copy of any of Dante’s works. There’s nothing on the wikipedia page hinting at a love story that someone might mix-up while skimming it before a deadline.

Oh that’s right, there was a terrible derivative video game called Dante’s Inferno a few years ago that involved button-mash murdering your way through all of hell in order to rescue your murdered lover Beatrice. Here’s what she looks like, naturally:

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Well, I guess the only real surprise is that she wasn’t found inside a fridge. Congratulations 21st century Hollywood, starting from the template of transcendent literature you have made a 14th century Italian dude with a mildly obsessive stalker complex look like Susan B. Anthony by comparison. You stay classy.

(source: Deadline)


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