WebFind: L’Inferno, the first full length Italian film, a horror-filled classic released in 1911

L'Inferno 1911

My thanks to comic artist Gary Erskine for highlighting the incredible L’Inferno, the first full-length Italian feature film. Some would say it’s the first horror film, although I doubt its makers saw it as that.

Released in 1911, it’s loosely adapted from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Directed by Francesco Bertolini, Adolfo Padovan and Giuseppe De Liguoro, its imagery based on the work of Gustave Dore, it took over three years to make and sensitive viewers should be warned it includes mutilations, demons and punishments of all kinds (including Lucifer chewing the damned alive).

Starring Salvatore Papa as Dante Alighieri and Arturo Pirovano as Virgilio, the first music score for the film was written by Raffaele Caravaglios.

L'Inferno 1911

The film, which is in the public domain, was released on DVD in 2004, with a score by Tangerine Dream, and again in 2011 by Cineteca di Bologna in the Il Cinema Ritrovato series, based on a version restored in 2006 (There’s a good overview of that release here by Paul Joyce).

This is the version of the film used on the YouTube version released by Mike Kiker, his score performed live with the film on 19th October 2016 at RUBA Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The edit of L’Inferno is by Richard Campbell of Cinema Ray.

“I was asked by the organization Cinema Ray in early September 2016 to perform a live score with a silent horror film, as a part of their month-long ‘Silent Screams with Live Music’ series,” says Mike. “Of the choices I was given, L’Inferno was the first film that I watched and even before finishing it or watching any of the other films, I knew that this was the film meant for me. I was disturbed on a psychic level, yet intrigued by what amazing feats the filmmakers had accomplished in their day.

L'Inferno 1911

“With the exception of the Overture (recorded in September 2016) and a few recurring themes, this score was about 95 per cent improvised,” he continues. “I worked up various sounds and progressions, but didn’t decide on a set structure until within the performance itself. I just reacted naturally to the feel of the film as it progressed.

“This was an absolute labour of love to put together with Rich and Allison from Cinema Ray and to release. Enjoy with an open mind.”

L'Inferno 1911Check out Mike Kiker’s version of L’Inferno here on YouTube – and find more of his work

With thanks to Gary Erskine

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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