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Dante's Inferno

Dante's Inferno

Dante's Inferno: The Private Life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poet and Painter (1967) is a feature-length 35mm film directed by Ken Russell and first screened on the BBC on 22 December 1967 as part of Omnibus. It quickly became a staple in cinemas in retrospectives of Russell's work. Using nonlinear narrative technique, it tells of the relationship between the 19th-century artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his model, Elizabeth Siddal.

Plot

The exhumation of Lizzie Siddal's desiccated body is seen, followed by a shot of Rossetti dancing among the flames of a bonfire of paintings by Reynolds and Gainsborough. A voice-over informs us that Rossetti is a founder of a revolutionary group of artists called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The figure of the young Lizzie dressed as Joan of Arc appears above the flames.