Inferno | CRITICISM | Dario Argento movie

Inferno (1980) of Dario Argento, is surely the most pretentious film of the director. In it, as the filmmaker himself admits, he put all his strength and energy. The result, despite having some obvious errors regarding the script, is still a must-see movie for any movie buff, due to the strength of its staging.

Review of ‘Inferno’

Data sheet

Title: Inferno
Original title: Inferno

Leigh McCloskey (Mark Elliot)
Irene Miracle (Rose elliot)
Eleonora Giorgi (Sara
Daria Nicolodi (Elise De Longvalle Adler)
Sacha Pitoëff (Kazanian)
Alida Valli (Carol)

Year: 1980
Duration: 107 min
Country: Italy
Director: Dario Argento
Script: Dario Argento (Based freely on the work of Thomas de Quincey)
Photography: Roman Alboni
Music: Keith Emerson
Gender: Terror
Producer: Intersound Produzioni



‘Inferno’ trailer

Where to buy ‘Inferno’


Inferno [DVD]

  • DVD, Not recommended for children under 12 years
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Leigh McCloskey, Irene Miracle, Eleonora Giorgi
  • Spanish, Italian, English

Synopsis of ‘Inferno’

A young Italian who studies in New York (Rose Elliot), has bought a small newspaper in an antiquarian in which she talks about ‘The three mothers’. This book talks about the existence of witches that have influence in the world … The film follows the plot of the previous film of Dario Argento, I sighed (1977).

Produzioni Intersound photo

Yes, it's a real nonsense

Let's not expect a movie with conventional narrative logic. Inferno, goes one step beyond I sighed (1977), which is his heiress on a spiritual and formal level, and if it already had holes within the plot cohesion, it could even be considered as experimental cinema, if we take into account the definition that exists about this cinema in encyclopedias. In fact, the script makes no sense. The film does not know how to link scenes (and especially how to articulate its characters) and it is more by incapacity than by its own decision that the work begins with an intermediate structure in which we begin without understanding something and end up in the same way.

If we get scripted bugs, the list would be endless: Who kills the antique dealer? Why is the copy of the book in Rome so easy to find? Who is the character who watches the book in Rome? Why are Rome and New York totally the same? Who is the character that plays the beautiful Ania Pieroni? As we see, the director, these details do not matter at all, because the only thing he seeks Argento It is, first, to subjugate the viewer and prevent him from thinking about the plot through the anesthetic use of light and sound, and second, to place his mythology of the three mothers.

Produzioni Intersound photo

Did you know what you were coming for?

The main force of Inferno It is in an excellent arrangement of all kinds of images and sound. Take for example the first sequence of the movie. A young woman reveals herself and in the middle of the night she goes to her antique shop to ask for a strange book she has bought, in which she tells of the existence of three evil witches. After a strange conversation, he goes to the basement of the building, and there, without the viewer understanding very well what is going on, he plunges into stagnant waters, where he will also end up finding a corpse. Counted in writing can be ridiculous. But to the writing, we must add the confusion that the director adds with the use of a totally artificial light. It is in this film, in which the adjective of theatrical can be used correctly and not in vain.

Because the light and the lights that Argento uses are totally unnatural, unreal, placed in the film as an intention on the part of the Italian to either point us out, or simply create a dreamlike atmosphere. Spotlights and lights that are found repeatedly in the movie, especially at night, which is when Argento He manages to capture all his imagery. But we not only have disco lights. We must highlight a staging with which Argento continually experiences, despite the fact that he has to sacrifice his own characters and the narrative itself.

Produzioni Intersound photo

Escher's picture

The deaths of the characters for example, are only a show for the direction itself, and being aware of it, the director himself is not saved from putting certain comic winks in several of these scenes. Or the assembly, where we also find certain interesting moments, such as the moment when a somewhat disturbing images are interspersed.

Further, Inferno It is to a certain extent an Escher painting, with impossible constructions, where the buildings presented by the film do not really have any type of logical connection, which merges with the Roman's own aesthetic.

Produzioni Intersound photo

The mythology of the three mothers does not work

This is not a secret, but where it fails most loudly Inferno it is in the ambitious construction of the mythology that he proposed Argento For the movie. For starters, because Argento is too obsessed with the subject, messing with material shoehorn that isn't really deep at all.

The matter of the three mothers ends up being something too superficial, and the esoteric part of the film does not have much crumb beyond the four clichés that everyone, even those who have not opened a book on the subject, know, namely : Witches, cats like devil animals, spells … Even in some ways mythology is not only that it is properly confusing (Is the attractive girl who appears in music classes one of the witches?), But that it is ridiculous, for Incoherent (same at the end of the movie, when the witch says that it is really death).

Produzioni Intersound photo

A dark music

For the soundtrack the Roman filmmaker contacted Keith Emerson, a British musician who built a soundtrack very much in the line that Goblin built to I sighed. Music, then, is also an indispensable element for Inferno, not only because the director is partly based on it to build the atmosphere of terror, but because it has an important part of the plot itself.


Inferno It is an indispensable work for that active cinephile who is willing to new challenges. Perhaps, the film is small in excess of pretentious and therefore is placed a few steps behind the director's great work, I sighed, but still this does not detract from it in the least.

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