Dante 01’s sci-fi inferno
by Gabriele Barcaro
Over ten years after co-directing Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children with Jean-Pierre Jeunet, French filmmaker Marc Caro went back behind the camera for the sci-fi Dante 01 [+see also:
film profile]. On release in Italy on July 25 (by Videa-CDE on 40 screens), the film offers a re-interpretation at the first cantica of the Divine Comedy, setting three circles of Dante’s Inferno in a futuristic, orbiting psychiatric hospital.
“For me, every film is an inferno,” joked Caro (who co-wrote the film with Pierre Bordage) at the film’s Italian press screening. In the past, the director had to renounce numerous overly expensive projects, opting instead for a film “with few characters and shot entirely in interiors”.
The budget was not that of a blockbuster, either. “Barely €4.5 million,” said Caro, “so I had to make a virtue of necessity. I had thought of the space base, for example, as circular, but then it turned into the form of a cross. Ultimately, however, this was a good thing. My main character isn’t a space cowboy but a religious hero, a kind of Christ”.
He is played by the Messianic Lambert Wilson, his head shaved like the other prisoners, all with evocative names: Lazare, Moloch, Rasputin. “They each represent a sin,” explained Caro. “They contribute to creating a symbolic universe,” said the director, fully aware that “sci-fi often leads to metaphysics.” The sci-fi here is strictly adult, like the films after which Dante 01 was modelled: “especially 2001, as well as THX 1138 and Solaris,” he said.
Not surprisingly, “between Lumière’s realism and Méliès’ fantasy, I have always chosen, not without some masochism, the latter path, the same one Cocteau chose”, added Caro, who made his debut (in well-known Italian magazine Frigidaire) as a comics illustrator, and took inspiration for the visual aspects of Dante 01 from the anime films of Satoshi Kon and Katsuhiro Otomo.
The immediate future of this “Taoist-punk” filmmaker holds a screenplay (commissioned by Jean-Pierre Jeunet) that is much less dark than Dante 01, however. “It’s an entertaining story, a mix of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati,” said the filmmaker, without wanting to give too much away.
(Translated from Italian)
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