Posts Tagged ‘literature’

Apparently, Warner Bros. has signed a deal to franchise hell itself, as the studio recently announced it has picked up a feature pitch titled Dante’s Inferno, which would bring Dante Alighieri’s legendary poem Inferno to life on the big screen. Tentatively title Dante’s Inferno, the screenplay is being touted as an epic scale love story that revolves around a man braving the nine circles of hell for his love. The film was pitched by relative newcomer Dwain Worrell, who has previously written only two other features, Operator (2015) and Walking the Dead (2010).

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Inferno is one of the most famous pieces ever written by Dante Alighieri. It is just one part of a three part epic poem titled The Divine Comedy, which is one of the key writings in Italian literature. The entire set of poetry took twelve years to complete, finishing in the year 1320, just a year before Alighieri passed away. Dante’s Inferno is one of those pieces that is often referenced in passing, but few are actually familiar with the scope of its influence on modern religion. The very concept of hell as a physical place where tortures and pain occur, as well as many of the modern ideas about Satan are a literary construct of Inferno, rather than anything found in the Bible.

charonThe original poem, which begins on Easter weekend in the year 1300, is divided in 100 cantos and split into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso. Dante himself is the main character who, finding himself lost after the death of his beloved Beatrice, is met in the woods by the long-dead poet Virgil. In Dante’s Inferno, Virgil guides Dante through the nine circles of Hell (Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery), revealing various eternal torments suffered by different kinds of sinners. Although it deals with religious themes, the poem is far from a theological work. Instead, Inferno is a tale about humanity and our moral struggles that simply borrows from various religions and mythology to aid in its literary construct.

According to the outlet, this new version of Dante’s Inferno will see Dante travel “through the nine circles of hell to save the woman he loves.” Although the specifics of this iteration of the tale have not yet been revealed, an attempt to “save” Beatrice is not part of the original poem. In fact, it is Beatrice (in real life, the inspiration for Dante’s “Vita Nuova”) who saves Dante, appearing in the Earthly paradise at the very end of “Purgatorio,” taking over for Virgil and serving as Dante’s guide through “Paradiso.”

The script is in the preliminary stages of development at this point, with no cast or director officially attached. We know that the tale has been pitched as a love story, which will no doubt make the characters and their struggles far more accessible.

Media influence

dantes_inferno_cover_artDante’s Inferno is truly an epic piece that has influenced countless other media, including modern comic books like Hellblazer, which was developed into the television show Constantine. In fact, DC Comics actually released a six-issue Dante’s Inferno comic book series in 2009, tying into the EA video game of the same name. If the film goes well and Warner produces all three parts of The Divine Comedy, then we may well be looking at a film series that is as epic in scale as the Lord of the Rings and Hobbitt trilogies. No release date or filming dates, cast or director have been mentioned, since the project is in the preliminary stages.

Various filmic takes on Dante’s Inferno stretch as far back as Giuseppe de Liguoro’s 1911 silent film, L’Inferno (click here to watch on YouTube) and more recently 1998 movie What Dreams May Come took Dante’s text elements to show actor Robin Williams in a descent into hell to save his wife’s soul. This Warner Bros. version has contemporary competition, however, as Universal Pictures has their own plans for a Dante’s Inferno movie. To be directed by Evil Dead‘s Fede Alvarez, the Universal version is based on the Electronic Arts video game of the same name. Although it its set in the early 14th century, the game version reimagines Alighieri as a Templar Knight and also sets Dante on a mission to save Beatrice’s soul.

THE DIVINE COMEDY

PARADISE – CANTO I

His glory, by whose might all things are mov’d,
Pierces the universe, and in one part
Sheds more resplendence, elsewhere less.  In heav’n,
That largeliest of his light partakes, was I,
Witness of things, which to relate again
Surpasseth power of him who comes from thence;
For that, so near approaching its desire
Our intellect is to such depth absorb’d,
That memory cannot follow.  Nathless all,
That in my thoughts I of that sacred realm
Could store, shall now be matter of my song.

piccarda-paradiso

     Benign Apollo! this last labour aid,
And make me such a vessel of thy worth,
As thy own laurel claims of me belov’d.
Thus far hath one of steep Parnassus’ brows
Suffic’d me; henceforth there is need of both
For my remaining enterprise Do thou
Enter into my bosom, and there breathe
So, as when Marsyas by thy hand was dragg’d
Forth from his limbs unsheath’d.  O power divine!
If thou to me of shine impart so much,
That of that happy realm the shadow’d form
Trac’d in my thoughts I may set forth to view,
Thou shalt behold me of thy favour’d tree
Come to the foot, and crown myself with leaves;
For to that honour thou, and my high theme
Will fit me.  If but seldom, mighty Sire!
To grace his triumph gathers thence a wreath
Caesar or bard (more shame for human wills
Deprav’d) joy to the Delphic god must spring
From the Pierian foliage, when one breast
Is with such thirst inspir’d.  From a small spark
Great flame hath risen: after me perchance
Others with better voice may pray, and gain
From the Cirrhaean city answer kind.

     Through diver passages, the world’s bright lamp
Rises to mortals, but through that which joins
Four circles with the threefold cross, in best
Course, and in happiest constellation set
He comes, and to the worldly wax best gives
Its temper and impression.  Morning there,
Here eve was by almost such passage made;
And whiteness had o’erspread that hemisphere,
Blackness the other part; when to the left
I saw Beatrice turn’d, and on the sun
Gazing, as never eagle fix’d his ken.
As from the first a second beam is wont
To issue, and reflected upwards rise,
E’en as a pilgrim bent on his return,
So of her act, that through the eyesight pass’d
Into my fancy, mine was form’d; and straight,
Beyond our mortal wont, I fix’d mine eyes
Upon the sun.  Much is allowed us there,
That here exceeds our pow’r; thanks to the place
Made for the dwelling of the human kind

     I suffer’d it not long, and yet so long
That I beheld it bick’ring sparks around,
As iron that comes boiling from the fire.
And suddenly upon the day appear’d
A day new-ris’n, as he, who hath the power,
Had with another sun bedeck’d the sky.

glowing-souls

     Her eyes fast fix’d on the eternal wheels,
Beatrice stood unmov’d; and I with ken
Fix’d upon her, from upward gaze remov’d
At her aspect, such inwardly became
As Glaucus, when he tasted of the herb,
That made him peer among the ocean gods;
Words may not tell of that transhuman change:
And therefore let the example serve, though weak,
For those whom grace hath better proof in store

     If I were only what thou didst create,
Then newly, Love! by whom the heav’n is rul’d,
Thou know’st, who by thy light didst bear me up.
Whenas the wheel which thou dost ever guide,
Desired Spirit! with its harmony
Temper’d of thee and measur’d, charm’d mine ear,
Then seem’d to me so much of heav’n to blaze
With the sun’s flame, that rain or flood ne’er made
A lake so broad.  The newness of the sound,
And that great light, inflam’d me with desire,
Keener than e’er was felt, to know their cause.

     Whence she who saw me, clearly as myself,
To calm my troubled mind, before I ask’d,
Open’d her lips, and gracious thus began:
“With false imagination thou thyself
Mak’st dull, so that thou seest not the thing,
Which thou hadst seen, had that been shaken off.
Thou art not on the earth as thou believ’st;
For light’ning scap’d from its own proper place
Ne’er ran, as thou hast hither now return’d.”

     Although divested of my first-rais’d doubt,
By those brief words, accompanied with smiles,
Yet in new doubt was I entangled more,
And said: “Already satisfied, I rest
From admiration deep, but now admire
How I above those lighter bodies rise.”

     Whence, after utt’rance of a piteous sigh,
She tow’rds me bent her eyes, with such a look,
As on her frenzied child a mother casts;
Then thus began: “Among themselves all things
Have order; and from hence the form, which makes
The universe resemble God.  In this
The higher creatures see the printed steps
Of that eternal worth, which is the end
Whither the line is drawn.  All natures lean,
In this their order, diversely, some more,
Some less approaching to their primal source.
Thus they to different havens are mov’d on
Through the vast sea of being, and each one
With instinct giv’n, that bears it in its course;
This to the lunar sphere directs the fire,
This prompts the hearts of mortal animals,
This the brute earth together knits, and binds.
Nor only creatures, void of intellect,
Are aim’d at by this bow; but even those,
That have intelligence and love, are pierc’d.
That Providence, who so well orders all,
With her own light makes ever calm the heaven,
In which the substance, that hath greatest speed,
Is turn’d: and thither now, as to our seat
Predestin’d, we are carried by the force
Of that strong cord, that never looses dart,
But at fair aim and glad.  Yet is it true,
That as ofttimes but ill accords the form
To the design of art, through sluggishness
Of unreplying matter, so this course
Is sometimes quitted by the creature, who
Hath power, directed thus, to bend elsewhere;
As from a cloud the fire is seen to fall,
From its original impulse warp’d, to earth,
By vicious fondness.  Thou no more admire
Thy soaring, (if I rightly deem,) than lapse
Of torrent downwards from a mountain’s height.
There would in thee for wonder be more cause,
If, free of hind’rance, thou hadst fix’d thyself
Below, like fire unmoving on the earth.”

     So said, she turn’d toward the heav’n her face.

resplendent-souls

Read on-line or download the complete Dante’s The Divine Comedy The Vision of Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell (Project Gutenberg). Source text: Coming Soon  and Screen Rant. Source for Gustave Doré’s illustrations from The vision of Purgatory and Paradise by Dante Alighieri (London and New York: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin [1868?]: The Word of Dante.

Writer Richard Matheson dies at 87

richard-matheson-2Richard Matheson: 20 February 1926 – 23 June 2013.

Richard Matheson, a prolific American science fiction author and screenwriter whose stories were made into movies and TV episodes, has died. He was 87. He died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, according to his son. “As monumental as he is as a writer, he was every bit that as a husband, father, grandfather and friend,” Richard Christian Matheson said on his Facebook page. “He was my hero and my best friend and I loved him deeply. I will miss him forever. I know we all will.”

The-Incredible-Shrinking-Man

During a career that spanned more than 60 years, the elder Matheson wrote more than 25 novels and nearly 100 short stories, plus screenplays for TV and film. Several of his novels were made into movies. “I Am Legend,” released in 1954, inspired three films, including 2007’s movie of the same name that starred Will Smith. His 1956 novel “The Shrinking Man” was adapted for the big screen, becoming “The Incredible Shrinking Man”. Matheson was a major contributor to Rod Serling’s classic TV series “The Twilight Zone,” penning more than a dozen scripts from 1959 to 1964, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” He also wrote for “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” and was the creative force behind the classic “Star Trek” episode “The Enemy Within”.

“He was just so influential. He raised the bar for writing thrillers; he brought that high standard and sophistication to everything he did,” Shirley said on Facebook. “And his works … as books and movies, influenced me to have hope for meaning in life, and in the afterlife … he affected my point of view on life.”

Source: CNN.com

One of the most influential sci-fi writers of all time

richard-matheson-1Richard Burton Matheson was born in Allendale, New Jersey, on February 20, 1926, the son of Norwegian immigrants Fanny and Bertolf Matheson, a tile floor installer. Matheson was raised in Brooklyn and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School in 1943. He then entered the military and spent World War II as an infantry soldier. In 1949 he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and moved to California in 1951. He married Ruth Ann Woodson on July 1, 1952 and had four children, three of whom (Chris, Richard Christian, and Ali Matheson) became writers of fiction and screenplays.

Matheson’s first published short story was “Born of Man and Woman” in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Summer 1950, the new quarterly’s third issue. It is the tale of a monstrous child chained by its parents in the cellar, cast as the creature’s diary in poignantly non-idiomatic English. Later that year he placed stories in the first and third numbers of Galaxy Science Fiction, a new monthly. Between 1950 and 1971, he produced dozens of stories, frequently blending elements of the science fiction, horror and fantasy genres. He was a member of the Southern California School of Writers in the 1950s-1960s, which included Charles Beaumont, William F. Nolan, Ray Bradbury, Jerry Sohl, George Clayton Johnson, and others. Matheson appears in two documentaries related to this era: Jason V Brock’s Charles Beaumont: The Life of Twilight Zone’s Magic Man, and The AckerMonster Chronicles!, which details the life of agent and editor Forrest J Ackerman.

i-am-legendSeveral of his stories, like “Third from the Sun” (1950), “Deadline” (1959) and “Button, Button” (1970) are simple sketches with twist endings; others, like “Trespass” (1953), “Being” (1954) and “Mute” (1962) explore their characters’ dilemmas over twenty or thirty pages. Some tales, such as “The Funeral” (1955) and “The Doll that Does Everything” (1954) incorporate zany satirical humour at the expense of genre clichés, and are written in an hysterically overblown prose very different from Matheson’s usual pared-down style. Others, like “The Test” (1954) and “Steel” (1956), portray the moral and physical struggles of ordinary people, rather than the then nearly ubiquitous scientists and superheroes, in situations which are at once futuristic and everyday. Still others, such as Hell House (1953), “The Curious Child” (1954) and perhaps most of all, “Duel” (1971) are tales of paranoia, in which the everyday environment of the present day becomes inexplicably alien or threatening. “Duel” was adapted into the TV movie of the same name.

He wrote 14 episodes for the American TV series “The Twilight Zone”, including “Steel” (mentioned above), and the famous “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, plus “Little Girl Lost”, a story about a young girl tumbling into the fourth dimension. On all of Matheson’s scripts for “The Twilight Zone”, he also wrote the introductory and closing statements spoken by creator Rod Serling. He also contributed a number of scripts to the Warner Bros. western series Lawman between 1958 and 1962. He adapted the works of Edgar Allan Poe for the Roger Corman’s Poe series including “House of Usher” (1960), “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1961) and “The Raven” (1963).

bid-time-returnHe wrote the popular “Star Trek” episode “The Enemy Within”. For Hammer Films he adapted Dennis Wheatley’s “The Devil Rides Out” (1968). In 1973, Matheson earned an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his teleplay for “The Night Stalker”, one of two TV movies written by Matheson that preceded the series “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”. Matheson also wrote the screenplay for “Fanatic” (US title: Die! Die! My Darling!), starring Tallulah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers.

Matheson’s first novel, “Someone Is Bleeding”, was published by Lion Books in 1953. His early novels include “The Shrinking Man” (1956, filmed in 1957 as “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, again from Matheson’s own screenplay) and a science fiction vampire novel, “I Am Legend”, (1954, filmed as “The Last Man on Earth” in 1964, “The Omega Man” in 1971, and “I Am Legend” in 2007). Other Matheson novels turned into notable films include “What Dreams May Come”, “A Stir of Echoes” (as “Stir of Echoes”), “Bid Time Return” (as “Somewhere in Time”), and “Hell House” (as “The Legend of Hell House”), the last two adapted and scripted by Matheson himself. Three of his short stories were filmed together as “Trilogy of Terror” (1975), including “Prey” (initially published in the April 1969 edition of Playboy magazine) with its famous Zuni warrior doll. Matheson’s short story “Button, Button”, was filmed as “The Box” in 2009, and was previously adapted for a 1986 episode of “The Twilight Zone”.

Omega_Man_(1971)

In 1960, Matheson published “The Beardless Warriors”, a non-fantastic, autobiographical novel about teenage American soldiers in World War II. It was filmed in 1967 as The Young Warriors though most of Matheson’s plot was jettisoned. During the 1950s he published a handful of Western stories (later collected in By the Gun); and during the 1990s he published Western novels such as “Journal of the Gun Years”, “The Gunfight”, “The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok” and “Shadow on the Sun”. He has also written a blackly comic locked-room mystery novel, “Now You See It…”, aptly dedicated to Robert Bloch, and the suspense novels “7 Steps to Midnight” and “Hunted Past Reason”.

Source: Wikipedia.

Bram Stoker

Posted: April 21, 2012 in books, cinema, movies
Tags: , , , ,


Abraham Stoker, 8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912

Abraham “Bram” Stoker (8 November 1847 – 20 April 1912) was an Irish novelist and short story writer, best known today for his 1897 Gothic novel “Dracula”. During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.

LIFE AND CAREER

Stoker was born on 8 November 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf, on the northside of Dublin, Ireland. His parents were Abraham Stoker (1799–1876), from Dublin, and Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornley (1818–1901), who came from Ballyshannon, County Donegal. Stoker was the third of seven children. He graduated with honours in mathematics. He was auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society, where his first paper was on “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society”. He became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail and also wrote stories, and in 1872 “The Crystal Cup” was published by the London Society, followed by “The Chain of Destiny” in four parts in The Shamrock. In 1876, while a civil servant in Dublin, Stoker wrote a non-fiction book (The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, published 1879), which remained a standard work .

In 1878 Stoker married Florence Balcombe, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel James Balcombe of 1 Marino Crescent. She was a celebrated beauty whose former suitor was Oscar Wilde. Stoker had known Wilde from his student days, having proposed him for membership of the university’s Philosophical Society while he was president. The Stokers moved to London, where Stoker became acting manager and then business manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years. On 31 December 1879, Bram and Florence’s only child was born, a son whom they christened Irving Noel Thornley Stoker.

The collaboration with Henry Irving was important for Stoker and through him he became involved in London’s high society, where he met James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (to whom he was distantly related). Working for Irving, the most famous actor of his time, and managing one of the most successful theatres in London made Stoker a notable if busy man. He was dedicated to Irving and his memoirs show he idolised him. In London Stoker also met Hall Caine who became one of his closest friends – he dedicated “Dracula” to him.

After suffering a number of strokes, Stoker died at No. 26 St George’s Square on 20 April 1912. Some biographers attribute the cause of death to tertiary syphilis. He was cremated, and his ashes placed in a display urn at Golders Green Crematorium.

“THE UN-DEAD”

Before writing “Dracula”, Stoker spent several years researching European folklore and mythological stories of vampires. “Dracula” is an epistolary novel, written as a collection of realistic, but completely fictional, diary entries, telegrams, letters, ship’s logs, and newspaper clippings, all of which added a level of detailed realism to his story, a skill he developed as a newspaper writer. At the time of its publication, it was considered a “straightforward horror novel” based on imaginary creations of supernatural life.

The original 541-page manuscript of Dracula, believed to have been lost, was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania during the early 1980s. It included the typed manuscript with many corrections, and handwritten on the title page was “THE UN-DEAD.” The author’s name was shown at the bottom as Bram Stoker. Author Robert Latham notes, “the most famous horror novel ever published, its title changed at the last minute.”

“The Un-Dead” was one of Stoker’s original titles for “Dracula”, and up until a few weeks before publication, the manuscript was titled simply The Un-Dead. Stoker’s Notes for “Dracula” show that the name of the count was originally “Count Wampyr”, but while doing research, Stoker became intrigued by the name “Dracula”, after reading William Wilkinson’s book “Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia with Political Observations Relative to Them” (London 1820), which he found in the Whitby Library, and consulted a number of times during visits to Whitby in the 1890s. The name Dracula was the patronym (Drăculea) of the descendants of Vlad II of Wallachia, who took the name “Dracul” after being invested in the Order of the Dragon in 1431. In the Romanian language, the word dracul (Romanian drac “dragon” + -ul “the”) can mean either “the dragon” or, especially in the present day, “the devil”.

Following the publication of “In Search of Dracula” by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally in 1972, the supposed connections between the historical Transylvanian-born Vlad III Dracula of Wallachia and Bram Stoker’s fictional “Dracula” attracted popular attention. During his main reign (1456–1462), “Vlad the Impaler” is said to have killed from 40,000 to 100,000 European civilians (political rivals, criminals and anyone else he considered “useless to humanity”), mainly by using his favourite method of impaling them on a sharp pole. The main sources dealing with these events are records by Saxon settlers in neighbouring Transylvania, who had frequent clashes with Vlad III. Vlad III is revered as a folk hero by Romanians for driving off the invading Turks. His impaled victims are said to have included as many as 100,000 Ottoman Turks. These numbers are most likely exaggerated.

Vlad the Impaler; also known as Vlad Dracula.

Historically, the name “Dracula” is derived from a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon, founded by Sigismund of Luxembourg (king of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, and Holy Roman Emperor) to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Vlad II Dracul, father of Vlad III, was admitted to the order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks. From 1431 onward, Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol. The name Dracula means “Son of Dracul”.

The first film adaptation of “Dracula” was released in 1922 and was named “Nosferatu”. It was directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and starred Max Schreck as Count Orlock. Nosferatu was produced while Florence Stoker, Bram Stoker’s widow and literary executrix, was still alive. Represented by the attorneys of the British Incorporated Society of Authors, she eventually sued the filmmakers. Her chief legal complaint was that she had been neither asked for permission for the adaptation nor paid any royalty. The case dragged on for some years, with Mrs. Stoker demanding the destruction of the negative and all prints of the film. The suit was finally resolved in the widow’s favour in July 1925. Some copies of the film survived, however and the film has become well known. The first authorized film version of Dracula did not come about until almost a decade later when Universal Studios released Tod Browning’s “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi.

Read more about Bram Stoker: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bram_Stoker
Read more about Dracula: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dracula
Visit this site: http://www.bramstoker.org/

VAMPIRES IN THE MOVIES

Forget Edward and the Twilight Saga… Here are the most famous and dangerous vampires of all time. Grab your crucifix and holy water. You gonna need of them.

1. COUNT ORLOCK – Max Schreck, from Nosferatu, 1922. Directed by F.W. Murnau.

2. DRACULA – Bela Lugosi, from Dracula, 1931. Directed by Tod Browning.

3. DRACULA – Christopher Lee, from Horror of Dracula, 1958. Directed by Terence Fisher.

4. DRACULA – Klaus Kinski, from Nosferatu the Vampyr, 1979. Directed by Werner Herzog.

5. JERRY DANDRIDGE – Chris Sarandon, from Fright Night, 1985. Directed by Tom Holland.

6. DAVID – Kiefer Sutherland, from The Lost Boys, 1987. Directed by Joel Schumacher.

7. DRACULA – Gary Oldman, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

8. LESTAT – Tom Cruise, from Interview with the Vampire, 1994. Directed by Neil Jordan.

9. MAX SCHRECK – Willem Dafoe, from Shadow of the Vampire, 2000. Directed by E. Elias Merhige.

10. ELI – Lina Leandersson, from Let the Right One In, 2008. Directed by Tomas Alfredson.

11. BARNABAS COLLINS – Johnny Depp, from Dark Shadows, 2012. Directed by Tim Burton.