Private Project

Syringa seraph

“Syringa seraph” is an analysis and meditation on the embodiment of ‘self-murder’ and suicide between the epic poem, The Divine Comedy, and Alex Garland’s sci-fi horror Annihilation (2018). How is Dante able to describe the abstract concept of suicide? “Syringa seraph” demonstrates the wordplay and metaphors employed by Dante and as imagined by the voicework and animation of Electronic Art’s video game “Dante’s Inferno”. As opposed to the violence and helplessness, Garland’s Annihilation presents the liberation of suicide as understood by Tessa Thompson’s character, Josie Radek.

  • Rianna Jakson
  • Rianna Jakson
  • Rianna Jakson
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Student, Web / New Media, Other
  • Genres:
    Sci-Fi, Video-Essay
  • Runtime:
    3 minutes 3 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 20, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Director Biography - Rianna Jakson

Hello! My name is Rianna and I’m a Junior at UMass Amherst studying Film Studies & Film Promotion through the BDIC program. I love pouring myself into the promotional material of film and television. It’s incredibly exciting to me to pick apart how the narrative of the movie can be rewrapped in the title sequence in such unique styles – anywhere from between a few frames to a minute! In my pastime I create alternative film posters and trailers with my favorite media for myself with different themes and what-if styles, drawing from the visual comedy of Edgar Wright to the thrill of Hitchcock and 2000s nostalgia. I have a wide dexterity for synthesizing language, history, music theory and color to embody the complex and evolving emotions in my stories as a voice actor, editor and colorist.

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Director Statement

Though both display an acclimation with nature, the contrapasso of Dante’s Inferno illustrates the pain and agony of the souls who do not find solace and may only speak should a part of their tree “limb” be broken out of their will as they no longer have dominion over their pain and body. To the contrary, Josie Radek finds her melancholy absolved and finds control; she is compelled to transform her pain into beauty. While the human-trees of the Inferno are grotesque, the anthropomorphic plants are lilacs; A.K.A., syringa vulgaris.

I want to bring attention to the flowery imagery as I emphasize in the chosen title, “Syringa seraph,” whereby I attribute as “the angelic lilac”. Lilacs, throughout literature, have come to symbolize resurrection and purity.

The line of text from Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” illustrates the feeling of loss and the violence of Abraham Lincoln’s death. As Waltman pays tribute to Lincoln with his ‘sprig of lilac,’ he associates death with a natural object symbolizing renewal. And though Josie is ‘dying,’ she has embraced the lilacs of the Shimmer and blurs the line between death and rebirth. Josie expresses her woes for Cass Shepard’s death and how the only piece of her that remained was her voice and a loss of her body and self was out of her control. Josie, on the other hand, has found solace in becoming a part of the Shimmer of her own will.