“The Dante Quartet is in fact the end result of Brakhage’s almost lifelong fascination with The Divine Comedy. It is a brief but spectacular filmic attempt to find a visual equivalent or rhyme for the four stages of the ascent from hell depicted by Dante: divided into ‘Hell Itself,’ ‘Hell Spit Flexion,’ ‘Purgation,’ and ‘Existence is Song.'”
I’ve been a little obsessed with this film of late. I’ve watched a bit of Brakhage at this point in my life but I missed this one until recently. It’s probably one of his more structured attempts at the painted film, and the moments where the ghost images bleed through are transcendent and beautiful. It also has a fantastic percussive quality, like much of his work and I love the impressionistic stills that play with how we perceive the film both in motion and while inert (very reminiscent of Wold Shadow actually). Posted herein is the film itself and an interesting article that gives a bit of background information for it. Imagine yourself wading through the depth of Brakhage’s landscape, the smell of paint in your nostrils, the feel of it clinging to your arms. This, I think, is the best way to watch his films.