Rated PG-13
121 Minutes
Released October 28

The film Inferno is based on the novel of that name by best-selling author Dan Brown, whose books have been translated and published in more than 40 languages worldwide. Brown’s ‘The DaVinci Code’ and ‘Angels & Demons’ were made into films in 2006 and 2009 respectively. The author likes to explore theological enigmas from the late Middle Ages that relate to our lives today. He presents mysteries that are unraveled through code – written symbols, not programmer coding (though the process may be somewhat similar to hacking). The frightening premise of Inferno is a comparison of the Black Plague of the 1300’s to our epidemic of overpopulation that exists today. From 1347 to 1352, at least 25 million people in Europe succumbed to the Plague, bringing the estimated population of the continent down from 75 million to 50 million. The pandemic was not only terrifying– it also had severe social, political, economical and religious repercussions, as does the problem of Earth’s overpopulation today. Understanding this particular history will help you navigate the film.

The movie is based on Dante’s circles of Hell from his Divine Comedy, one of the great works of world literature, which he began in 1308 and finished in 1320. This epic poem illustrates the Medieval view of the afterlife, as the soul journeys through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory and Heaven (Paradise). The film has an interesting juxtaposition of backstories, as Dante was lucky enough to escape witnessing the Plague since he lived from 1265 to 1321. An important clue used in the film is a map of Hell created by Boticelli, the legendary painter (1445-1510), based on Dante’s description of Inferno. Both of these great figures called Florence their home. That city was a hotbed of the arts during the early Renaissance.

If you are getting the feeling that there are some very complex issues covered in Inferno, you are correct. The puzzle is there to be solved, and it relates to the main theme. The story as mounted in the film is not as gripping as I had hoped. I did not feel intimately involved with the characters. Stars Tom Hanks (“Robert Langdon”) and Felicity Jones (“ Dr. Sienna Brooks”) do the best they can with characters who seem utterly distracted by their urge to solve the mystery. Many of the players are “chameleons” in this story. Two of the supporting characters seemed much more interesting, due to great portrayals by Ana Ularu (“Vayentha”) and Irrfan Khan (“Harry Sims”).

The score by Hans Zimmer is his renowned brand of classic thriller music. The visual depictions of Hell that arise in Langdon’s dream state are violent and dramatic, though I found them repetitive. With the special effects available in cinema today, I had expected these apparitions to be more imaginative.

Inferno offers exquisite footage of Florence, Venice and Istanbul, a taste of many centuries of art and history that you can’t find in our country. At the end of the film you may have unanswered questions. If you are a student of Medieval and Renaissance History, I highly recommend this film. If you are not, I highly recommend that you study up before seeing it.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com