Inferno full movie review - Why were the core messages distorted?!
Spoiler: Those who have read - and completed! - the book version of Dan Brown's "Inferno" may wonder why the movie version diverges so much from the novel.
In his fourth novel, again Dan Brown is sending his protagonist Robert Langdon to uncover a world conspiracy. Although the book contains the usual credibility gaps, it nonetheless addresses an important challenge for humanity: overpopulation and its potential consequences. However, his thoughts and pondering are distorted in the movie to such an extent that we can only say that the movie totally missed the topic.
It is not even the mediocrity of Ron Howard's cinematic implementation which may not only be attributed to "mainstreaming" efforts. What surprises us is that apparently Dan Brown accepted this trivialization of his core messages in the movie version.
We ask ourselves why the core message of the book has not been transported in the movie. Is it just because the viewer cannot be expected to possess sufficient reflection capacity, so that an actually deep and thought provoking story about fundamental challenges of humanity gets flattened into a superficial action-thriller with obligatory happy end? Wasn't it precisely the proposal of a method "as humane as possible" (if humanity does not engage in voluntary and sustainable "birth control") that encourages the reader to engage in deeper considerations despite all radicalness? But since the movie portrays the story that the spread of a deadly virus has been prevented, the whole complexity of the whole issue has been dramatically flattened, underlined by the one-dimensional portrayal of the characters divided in "good" and "evil" (megalomaniac billionaire and girl blinded by love as main characters). This is only intellectually undercut through the Hollywood-accordant "happy end" of the movie where "good" wins over "evil". In his book, however, Dan Brown provides a much more complex scenario: The virus is actually released, but it is not a virus that kills people, but a carefully designed viral vector that causes a genetic mutation in humans so that a random number of them (just) becomes infertile. This allows for a much more open and multi-faceted deliberation about various questions and thoughts.
The deliberation about the question how "(in)humane" the saving of humanity ought to be or in how far the individual freedom of action should be "sacrificed" for the benefit of all of humanity, and in how far the individual might even have the obligation to intervene since "the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality" (as it was stated in the book, but actually incorrectly translated from Dante's "Divine Comedy") seemed to be important for Dan Brown. Referring to Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy" (resp. Botticelli's illustration of it), Dan Brown asks the question if it could not even be the right thing to induce a "limited apocalypse" through direct human intervention in order to let humanity "enter paradise", of if one apparently inhumane solutions might not be the more humane in the end? We ask ourselves why the core message of the book has not been transported in the movie. Is it just because the viewer cannot be expected to possess sufficient reflection capacity, so that an actually deep and thought provoking story about fundamental challenges of humanity gets flattened into a superficial action-thriller with obligatory happy end? We are also wondering why the - actually rather positive - reference to transhumanism from the book is totally omitted in the movie. Are they afraid about a possible popularization of transhumanist ideas through the movie? Although the reference to Malthus' ideas in the context of transhumanism actually misses the point (since the main solution lies in technologies for better resource efficiency, distribution and creation), Dan Brown Brown's book encourages openness towards the transhumanist philosophy and the examination of new ways of thinking about the relation of technology and society. Actually the "Inferno" is part of Dante's "Divine Comedy" that also mentions the term "transhumanar" which can roughly be translated as "going outside the human condition and perception". An open discourse and not by-default condemnation of the idea of 'humans taking their own "evolution" into their own hands' is especially encouraged in the end of Dan Brown's book. So why is this important point missing in the film? The merit of Dan Brown's book is that through its multi-faceted plot, a far greater public can be reached to think about the topic of transhumanism than through scientific articles or often distorted media reports, and this seemed to be the intention, at least to us (although some of the book reviews seemed to have missed a deeper reflection on the topic). It is really a pity that the movie has not managed to transport to offer yet another channel to deeper reflect on the question, whether it is unacceptable or even our duty to interfere with "human nature" and actively guide human development to ensure human survival. To look away out of fear and refrain from opening serious discussions about such relevant issues regarding our future is no solutions.
While the film adaptation of "Da Vinci Code" and "Illuminati" have been quite close to the original literary version, for some reason, "Inferno" has stayed so far behind the novel that it borders on being unrecognizable. It is just to hope that the next cinematic adaptations of Dan Brown's novels will be better ("The Lost Symbol" as well as "Origin", which is to appear in September 2017) Conclusion: for all those who do not know Dan Brown's book version of "Inferno", the movie is a mediocre action/thriller movie, implemented as a scavenger hunt from riddle to enigma. For all those who have read the book and went deeper into the relevant topics and questions, the movie is a real disappointment. It is a missed opportunity to even enhance the book's messages and sensitize people to seriously think about the considerations it transports.