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Dante 01

Film (2008). Eskwad/Wild Bunch. Directed by Marc Caro. Written by Caro and Pierre Bordage. Cast includes Simona Maicanescu, Dominique Pinon and Lambert Wilson. 82 minutes. Colour.

French director Caro's solo debut shares a premise with Alien Resurrection (1997), directed by his frequent collaborator Jean-Pierre Jenuet: a group of Scientists are carrying out dubious and dangerous research on a Space Station a long way from Earth. In this case, rather than experimenting on Aliens, the subjects are human – Dante 01 is a psychiatric detention facility. Intriguingly this state of affairs is apparently cost-effective despite the fact the entire facility consists of seven patients, two doctors and three security guards (see Economics). Into this unlikely but stable environment comes an unknown patient (Wilson) who, silent and suffering from Amnesia, is christened St George on account of a prominent tattoo. Soon everything has gone completely to pot in a welter of Prison and Mad Scientist Clichés.

Heavy-handed symbolism abounds: the title alludes to Dante Alighieri, and his seven circles of hell are explicitly evoked; St George is repeatedly cast as Christ; all the characters have equally ripe names plundered from Mythology and history – César (Caro/Jenuet regular Pinon), Perséphone (Maicanescu), Bouddha, Charon; the station itself is cruciform in shape and orbits a seething volcanic planet which functions as pathetic fallacy on a grand scale. Accompanied throughout by Maicanescu's ponderous voiceover, the film clearly has big ideas about Religion and philosophy but is unable to articulate them. By the end, it is simply incomprehensible. [ML]

see also: Cinema; France; Medicine; Nanotechnology.


Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 00:54 am on 30 June 2022.