HANKS’S HELL ON EARTH

Tom Hanks re­turns as Robert Lang­don in the film ver­sion of In­ferno, ready to save the world from a virus de­signed to kill half of hu­man­ity

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

Ac­tor Tom Hanks says that while his lat­est film tack­les over­pop­u­la­tion cre­at­ing hell on earth, hu­man­ity has more to fear from its own ig­no­rance.

Ahead of the world pre­miere of In­ferno, the lat­est in the Dan Brown se­ries that fea­tures Hanks’s re­turn as sym­bol­o­gist Robert Lang­don, the US ac­tor said the film aimed to en­lighten au­di­ences about real is­sues as well as en­ter­tain.

In­ferno, the third film fol­low­ing on from An­gels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code, takes a darker tone and brings to­gether an in­ter­na­tional cast, in­clud­ing Bol­ly­wood’s Ifran Khan, Felic­ity Jones from the UK and French co­me­dian Omar Sy. As read­ers and au­di­ences have come to ex­pect from Brown’s nov­els and their film adap­ta­tions, the plot ref­er­ences a his­tor­i­cal text, this time Dante’s early re­nais­sance epic poem “Divine Com­edy”, and his de­scrip­tion of hell. Largely set in Dante’s home­town of Florence, but also Venice and Is­tan­bul, the film takes place over 24 hours, with Lang­don rac­ing to save the world from a virus, cre­ated by bil­lion­aire Ber­trand Zo­brist who wants to save the world from over­pop­u­la­tion by wip­ing out half of hu­man­ity.

Zo­brist’s dire warn­ings about hu­man­ity and the world’s population tre­bling in 80 years are based in fact, di­rec­tor Ron Howard says.

But de­spite hu­man­ity over­load­ing the world, the vil­lain isn’t nec­es­sar­ily hu­man­ity it­self.

“I think it’s about a cri­sis,” Howard says. “I don’t think hu­man­ity is the vil­lain ... I would say so­ci­ety, be­cause it’s not tack­ling the cri­sis head on, it’s cre­at­ing a vac­uum and in that vac­uum an ex­trem­ist has moved in – this is what hap­pens in so­ci­ety.

“This (is a) larger loom­ing cri­sis that needs to be ad­dressed but politi­cians and gen­eral cit­i­zens don’t nec­es­sar­ily want to face it.”

Sim­i­larly, Hanks says the film deals with a global re­al­ity.

“You don’t have to look very far to see a hellish ex­am­ple of what over­pop­u­la­tion can do to a na­tion or to an area,” he says. “There are plenty of places where en­vi­ron­men­tal or eco­nomic chaos reigns be­cause quite frankly there’s too many peo­ple there.”

The en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, who in the past has do­nated to Demo­cratic Party pres­i­den­tial cam­paigns, laments the ten­dency “to em­brace some form of very sim­plis­tic an­swers to ex­tremely com­pli­cated prob­lems” and says “the big­gest threat to hu­mankind is ig­no­rance and the em­brac­ing of ig­no­rance”. While the world has al­ways faced cross­roads, at the mo­ment “it just seems to be much louder and a more con­stant echo cham­ber”, Hanks says, in a veiled ref­er­ence to the cur­rent US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

“Part of it’s be­cause ev­ery four years in the United States we em­brace this kind of ques­tion and we deal with it but also there is no doubt the world seems to be more and more chaotic than ever be­fore,” the ac­tor says. But Hanks be­lieves “all of our prob­lems are man-made, all of our prob­lems can be solved by hu­mankind”.

The two Hol­ly­wood su­per­stars say they re­turned to the se­ries not out of con­trac­tual obli­ga­tion, but be­cause they find Brown’s nov­els and their film adap­ta­tions thrilling to make, and it of­ten means time on lo­ca­tion in Euro­pean cities.

Hanks even im­parts some ad­vice for trav­ellers to the in­creas­ingly crowded Ital­ian city, after hav­ing spent a month film­ing there: “If you want to avoid the tourists in Florence, go to a laun­dro­mat on Sun­day. No tourists in the laun­dro­mat on Sun­day!” In­ferno opens to­day

Tom Hanks and Felic­ity Jones on the bal­cony of St. Mark’s Basil­ica for a scene from In­ferno.

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