Divine Comedy – Final Project
For my project I animated a series of GIF sets to both describe scenes from the story and to represent abstract ideas inspired by the text.
The first animation I created was inspired by the discussion we had in class about how unbaptized babies reside in Limbo. However, when Dante visits the Empyrean, he discovers that infants are there as well.
The first part of the animation is obviously supposed to resemble Limbo. Per the instruction of the poem, Limbo is a grassy field. In the background, however, I have my rendition of Hell. The infants cry out not from pain, but because they are lost from their creator to whom they have never had the privilege of being introduced before their death. Their eyes are black, but this isn’t meant to make them appear demonic. Rather it shows that they are wandering this grassy plain without the sight of God.
My depiction of the infants in Heaven is more abstract. They are resting in a giant rose. This is meant to refer to the rose that Dante discovers in the Empyrean. The babies are snuggled in the rose, which represents God’s love. This is a contrast to the babies out in the cold, almost barren, Limbo.
The animation was intended to represent the different sides of God. The God in Hell is punishing, tough, and without mercy. He leaves the unbaptized babies behind as if they are not his children. However, in Paradiso, almost like another dimension, the babies are in the realm of his greatest love. In Paradiso, we are shown a God who loves immeasurably and unconditionally.
The second animation is a representation of the gateway into Dis. The door that seals the way for Dante is Auguste Rodin’s La Porte de l’Enfer. Above the doorway is a fallen angel, who guards it as described in the poem.
An angel comes down in a bolt of lightning. I animated it this way because when Dante and Beatrice enter Heaven, they do so like a bolt of lightning; it’s the only way to reach Heaven. The angel is shapeless and simply an orb of bright light. Since messengers of God are much closer to the light of God than anything in Hell is, they would appear blindingly bright. Once the angel from Heaven descends to Dis, the fallen angel guarding the Gate disappears, just as the creators of Hell ran from the messenger in the poem at the sight of him.
The angel quickly opens the Gate and immediately returns to Heaven in another bolt of lightning.
The last animation was inspired by the last line in the poem: “Love that moves the Sun and the other stars” (Paradiso Canto XXXIII: 145). It starts in the time before the universe, when there was just God. Surrounding him in gold are shapes meant to represent the angels that circle around the light, trying to get as close to their creator as possible. It appears to be an atom, the building block if all creation, since God is the creator and builder of everything.
Then, like a big bang, the universe is created. We are introduced to Mercury and the Sun. But brighter than all was the love that ignited it.
I especially like this idea because the Big Bang scientific theory is often put forth as a way to disprove that the universe was created through divine intervention, although it is under as much scrutiny as God’s existence. However, according to Dante, God is simply a bright light full of immeasurable energy. According to the Big Bang theory the universe before its creation is also described as being nothing, with a single point containing all the energy in the universe. This very much fits the description of God that Dante gives. And through God’s love the world is instantly created as he moves the sun, stars, and everything else into place.