Roberto Benigni to Start Work on 'Dante' Film in Late Summer

Roberto Benigni - To Rome With Love - P 2012

The Italian comic says he wants to start work on the project as soon as he finishes his television series "All Dante" in August.

ROME -- Roberto Benigni, best known as the creator of Oscar-winning 1997 film La vita e' Bella (Life is Beautiful), says that work on his long-awaited feature based on Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem The Divine Comedy will start late this summer.

Benigni -- who will present a television series called Tutto Dante (All Dante), based on the iconic author, from July 20 through Aug. 6 -- said work on the film would start immediately afterward.

"It's been a while now that I've been missing cinema," Benigni told reporters. "The Divine Comedy is the greatest work of literature of all times, something everyone should know and love."

Benigni did not provide further details about the project.

After the enormous critical and box office success of La vita e' bella in 1997, Benigni's next two films -- Pinocchio in 2002 and La tigre e la neve (The Tiger and the Snow) in 2005 -- received a lukewarm reception from critics and moviegoers. The 60-year-old actor kept a relatively low profile after that, until re-emerging last year in Woody Allen's To Rome With Love, where his role as a middle-class Italian who suddenly and inexplicably becomes famous was well received.

Since then, industry figures ranging from Finish director and Cannes regular Aki Kaurismaki to The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown have expressed a desire to work with Benigni.

Twitter: @EricJLyman