Into the Video-Inferno: Vertical Television, Experimental Seriality and the Moving Collage in A TV Dante

  • Mattia Petricola University of L'Aquila
  • Massimo Fusillo University of L'Aquila
Keywords: Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, adaptation, television, Peter Greenaway, Tom Phillips, Raoul Ruiz, intermediality, video art


This paper focuses on one of the most unique experiments in the history of television: A TV Dante, a fourteen-episode mini-series aired between 1990 and 1991, partly directed by Tom Phillips and Peter Greenaway, partly directed by Raoul Ruiz. We will analyse A TV Dante as an early attempt to explore the aesthetic potential of television seriality adopting an avant-garde approach towards a fundamental work of the Western canon.

More specifically, we will compare Phillips-Greenaway and Ruiz’s approaches to the Inferno in order to highlight the formal, aesthetic and conceptual strategies that guide their respective works. Drawing on Phillips’ previous illustrations for the Inferno, the British duo creates an abstract video-otherworld through the use of collage and a rich visual symbology. On the other hand, Ruiz chooses a thoroughly contemporary re-reading of the cantica by setting the action in Santiago de Chile and moving between political commentary and surreal, hauntingly mysterious scenes.


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Author Biographies

Mattia Petricola, University of L'Aquila

Mattia Petricola is a postdoc research fellow in comparative literature at the University of L’Aquila. His research interests sit at the crossroads of thanatology, speculative fiction, and media studies. He has published articles on Peter Greenaway, Bill Viola, Philip K. Dick, and the notion of spectrality in media studies. He is the Italian Ambassador of the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS).

Massimo Fusillo, University of L'Aquila

Massimo Fusillo is Professor of Literary Criticism and Comparative Literature at the University of L’Aquila and member of the Academia Europaea. He is the author of The Fetish: Literature, Cinema, Visual Art and the coeditor of Imaginary Films in Literature.


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How to Cite
Petricola, M., & Fusillo, M. (2020). Into the Video-Inferno: Vertical Television, Experimental Seriality and the Moving Collage in <i>A TV Dante</i&gt;. Between, 10(20), 300-328.