Literary class for the fan girl: ‘Dahling Nick’ and ‘L’Inferno’

Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

On Wednesday night I caught the opening of Sari Dalena’s Dahling Nick at the Cinema One Originals independent film festival. Most of us have taken up a Nick Joaquin story in school (most likely “May Day Eve”) but perhaps didn’t have a chance to dig deeper into his body of work and what sort of person he was.

Well, he was quite a character—as described by fellow writers like Butch Dalisay, Krip Yuson, Gemino Abad, F. Sionil Jose, Pete Lacaba and Mara Llanot in interviews. Each one having access to San Miguel Pale Pilsen on a table in front of them. That was Mr. Joaquin’s favorite drink as he was often seen with the brown bottle in hand.

The film is part documentary style—with interviews and archival footage, part biopic with Raymond Bagatsing ably taking on the literary great—capturing the nuances in his voice and mannerisms, and part collection of shorts as some of Joaquin’s stories like “May Day Eve” get a short film treatment. So you have movies within a movie.

At three hours it may run a bit long for some—unless they are huge fans of Joaquin and his work. For some highlights or select vignettes from his featured works would suffice, others would want it all.

You leave with an appreciation for the man and a curiosity for more of his work. I, in particular, wished I could have been at some sort of event where I could have met him or heard him speak.

I never studied La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) in school—a pity since this was such a landmark in world literature. Of the three “canticas” which make up The Divine Comedy—“Inferno,” “Purgatorio” and “Paradiso,” I can only imagine my gothic mind being fascinated mostly by “Inferno.”

I couldn’t pass up one of the events set up by the The Philippine Italian Association to celebrate the 750th anniversary of Dante Alighieri—a screening of the 1911 silent film L’ Inferno by Giuseppe di Liguoro with music by Razorback.

The whole experience was otherworldly. First you have the visuals and “effects” unique to the early years of filmmaking. The film was in black and white and featured Dante’s journey throughout the various circles of hell. You had the beasts, the giants, the devils and demons, mythical creatures and the tortured souls of sinners undergoing all sorts of punishments.

While you may not hear poetry or read the lines of this cantica, you get to know the story via the words written between the scenes in the silent.

I thought Razorback’s performance with the film was perfect for transporting one to that other world, the sound quality as well was excellent. They made the mood go from dreamy to dark to sexy to heavy to rocking. Tangerine Dream did the music for the DVD version of the film (I haven’t heard it) but I think another version is in order with music by Razorback.

If you drop by Komikon at the Bayanihan Center this weekend might be pleased to find out, among the new releases they’ll find is a colored version of Trese’s first case and “Local Color.” “Local Color” is a Philippine Fantasy Coloring Book by Arnold Arre (Mythology Class).

L’Inferno x Razorback was a one of a kind event. Dahling Nick will have screenings up to the 17th in Megamall, Resorts World, Trinoma and Glorietta. It is part of the Cinema One Originals Festival 2015. Local Color will be sold at a discounted price of P250 at Komikon.


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