Featured image – Director Ralph Loop at an event for the film.
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Dante
This is a fascinating, intense examination of Sandro Botticelli’s (1445- 1510) famous work that jumps from the Vatican to Florence, Berlin, London and the Scottish lowlands.
The film is directed by Ralph Loop, who also has an expert, an Italian historian who knows the city of Florence in the Renaissance period to enthusiastically narrate part of the film. As well there are interviews with the Directors of the various galleries.
The film examines the history of one of Botticelli’s famous works : the illustrations he produced based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and particularly concentrates on The Inferno and his depiction of the nine levels of, and the map of the descent, into Hell, as described by Dante. In contrast, we also see his vision of Paradise.
Some of his other famous works – for example his Primavera and Birth of Venus – are also depicted.
Botticelli’s own dark side is hinted at, and he is placed in context in the artistic and political worlds of his day. As well as Botticelli’s work, we also see famous works by other greats such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo .
The documentary features glorious aerial shots of beautiful Florence – the city of artists and geniuses- and we follow the work from the temperature controlled vaults of the Vatican library and see how the artsworks have been digitally scanned and minutely scrutinised , and revealing how sometimes even Botticelli altered parts of the composition.
The nine circles of Hell are described and shown in incredible detail. The famous ‘Map of Hell’ would have been terrifying when Botticelli painted it and still today makes one feel uncomfortable.
We also see the original contract Botticelli signed, and learn a little ( but not much it – would be marvellous to know more) about his life.
The film is narrated partly in the first person with the voice over of Botticelli as narrator but mostly it is the world art experts from the Vatican who enthusiastically take us through his journey.
The incredibly detailed techniques Botticelli would have used are explained – no wonder it took him over a decade to produce the work.The current hi tech techniques for restoration and preservation are also explained. The film also links to today with ordinary people being interviewed in Florence as to views of the work.
We also follow how Botticelli’s extraordinary ground breaking work was actually broken up and ended up in the Vatican library and also, for a time, Berlin during the nineteenth century .
BOTTICELLI’S INFERNO was a fascinating, at times disturbing documentary, giving viewers fresh artists into this great artists’ work.
Running time allow 1 hr 45 mins without interval. The film screens at selected arthouse cinemas from February 11.