INVICTUS: I am the captain of my soul…

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Hemmigway

Nelson Mandela kept a copy of the above poem with him during his 27 years of captivity in South African prison. This very inspiring film is directed by Clint Eastwood and has Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon playing the key roles of South African President Nelson Mandela and François Pienaar, the captain of the South Africa rugby union team, the Springboksood respectively.  The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation, about the events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, which was hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid.


Brenda Mazibuko: You’re risking your political capital, you’re risking your future as our leader.

Nelson Mandela: The day I am afraid to do that is the day I am no longer fit to lead.


Nelson Mandela: Forgiveness liberates the soul.

Nelson Mandela: It removes fear.

Nelson Mandela: That is why it is such a powerful weapon.


Nerine: Thinking about tomorrow?

Francois Pienaar: No. Tomorrow’s taken care of, one way or another. I was thinking about how you spend 30 years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there.


[appearing at the South African Sports Committee, after they had elected to disband the Springbok rugby team]

Nelson Mandela: Brothers, sisters, comrades: I am here because I believe you have made a decision with insufficient information and foresight. I am aware of your earlier vote. I am aware that it was unanimous. Nonetheless, I believe we should restore the Springboks; restore their name, their emblem and their colors, immediately. Let me tell you

why. On Robben Island, in Pollsmoor Prison, all of my jailers were Afrikaners. For 27 years, I studied them. I learned their language, read their books, their poetry. I had to know my enemy before I could prevail against him. And we DID prevail, did we not? All of us here… we prevailed. Our enemy is no longer the Afrikaner. They are our fellow South Africans, our partners in democracy. And they treasure Springbok rugby. If we take that away, we lose them. We prove that we are what they feared we would be. We have to be better than that. We have to surprise them with compassion, with restraint and generosity; I know, all of the things they denied us. But this is no time to celebrate petty revenge. This is the time to build our nation using every single brick available to us, even if that brick comes wrapped in green and gold. You elected me your leader. Let me lead you now.


Nerine: [after Francois returns from his tea with President Mandela] So, what’s he like?

Francois Pienaar: [pauses] He’s unlike any person I’ve ever met.


Nelson Mandela: You criticize without understanding. You seek only to address your own personal feelings. That is selfish thinking, Zindzi. It does not serve the nation.


Nelson Mandela: We need inspiration Francois. Because in order to build our nation we must exceed our own expectations.


Seven: Sin and Redemption

Directed by David Fincher and excellently rendered by top brass actors – Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey and Brad Pitt, this movie show cases not just the underbelly of an American metropolis but also the ugly underbelly of the human mind.

Somerset (Freeman) is a seasoned detective who has seen too much of the dark side of the human nature, and while he’s the best in his field he still regrets the many murders that went unpunished. Mills (Pitt) is a passionate and enthusiastic detective who is not aware of how easily the psychopath, John Doe (Spacey), can manipulate his emotions.

Many people may find this movie too graphic for their taste. It however  has some very insightful dialogues on the human condition and urban crime in an American metropolitan city, the name of which is not specified in the movie, but appears to be New York.

The name of the film is derived from the seven deadly or cardinal sins according to popular Christian beliefs prevailing in the fourth century AD. They are  pride, greed, lust, envy, sloth, wrath and gluttony.


seven_2John Doe:…..We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it’s common, it’s trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I’m setting the example. What I’ve done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed… forever.



seven_11William Somerset: David. If you kill him, he will win.



seven_5William Somerset: I just don’t think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue.

David Mills: You’re no different. You’re no better.

William Somerset: I didn’t say I was different or better. I’m not. Hell, I sympathize; I sympathize completely. Apathy is the solution. I mean, it’s easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It’s easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It’s easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.



seven_6John Doe: What sick ridiculous puppets we are / and what gross little stage we dance on  / Not a care in the world / Not knowing that we are nothing / We are not what was intended.



seven_7Dr. Beardsley: He’s experienced about as much pain and suffering as anyone I’ve encountered, give or take, and he still has Hell to look forward to.


seven_18William Somerset:  [Reading from one of John Doe’s journals] On the subway today, a man came up to me to start a conversation. He made small talk, a lonely man talking about the weather and other things. I tried to be pleasant and accommodating, but my head hurt from his banality. I almost didn’t notice it had happened, but I suddenly threw up all over him. He was not pleased, and I couldn’t stop laughing.




seven_9David Mills: Yeah, a landlord’s dream: a paralyzed tenant with no tongue.

William SomersetWho pays the rent on time.



seven_10William Somerset: But you gotta be a, a hero. You want to be a champion. Well, let me tell you. People don’t want a champion. They want to eat cheeseburgers, play the lotto and watch television.


seven_12William Somerset: It’s impressive to see a man feeding off his emotions.


seven_13William Somerset: Hemingway once wrote, “The world’s a fine place and worth fighting for.” I agree with the second part.



seven_14William Somerset: Gentlemen, gentlemen… I’ll never understand. All these books, a world of knowledge at your fingertips. What do you do? You play poker all night.

Library Guard: Hey! We’ve got culture! We’ve got culture comin’ out our ass!

Library Night Guard: [turns on classical music] How’s this for culture?



seven_17Somerset : I wish I still thought the way you do.

Mills : Why don’t you tell me what the hell it is you think we’re doing?

Somerset : Picking up the pieces. We’re collecting all the evidence, taking all the pictures and samples, writing everything down, noting the time things happen.

Mills : That’s all ?

Somerset : That’s all. Putting everything into neat little piles and filing it away on the off chance that it will ever be needed in the courtroom. Picking up diamonds on a deserted island, saving them in case we get rescued.

Mills : Bullshit.

Somerset : Even the most promising clues usually only lead to others. So many corpses roll away unrevenged.


seven_8John Doe: People will barely be able to comprehend it, but they won’t be able to deny it.


And finally the classic library scene where Somerset is in the library going through Dante’s  Purgatory while Mills is at home,  going through the case files and brutally graphic photos of John Doe’s murdered victims.  In stark contrast you have the beautiful composition – Bach’s Air on The G String record playing. There is pathos, sadness, violence, anguish and agony of the human condition.

CLOUD ATLAS: By each crime and every kindness we birth our future….

This ground breaking film by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski, has a powerful and inspiring story which explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another traversing past, present and future. The premise of the movie is based on the Hindu belief of reincarnation and karma : how souls evolve and influence each other through several life times, how villains become heroes and a single act of kindness can ripple through centuries to bring about a revolution.

This is one of those rare movies, like ‘Peaceful Warrior’ and ‘The Last Samurai’   where          almost every dialogues gives the audience a deep insight into the ultimate meaning of our existence;


Sonmi-451: Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.


Isaac Sachs: Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the Theory of Relativity and Principles of Uncertainty: phenomenon that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday I believed that I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, that can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment. At each point of intersection, each encounter suggests a new potential direction.


Haskell Moore: There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well. This movement will never survive; if you join them, you and your entire family will be shunned. At best, you will exist a pariah to be spat at and beaten-at worst, to be lynched or crucified. And for what? For what? No matter what you do it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean.

Adam Ewing: What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?


Archivist: On behalf of my Ministry and the future of Unanimity, I want to thank you for the final interview. Remember, this isn’t an interrogation or trial. Your version of the truth is all that matters.

Sonmi-451: Truth is singular. Its “versions” are mistruths.

archivistArchivist: What if no one believes you?

Sonmi-451: Someone already does.


Robert Frobisher: I believe there is a another world waiting for us, Sixsmith. A better world. And I’ll be waiting for you there.


Archivist: In your Revelation, you spoke of the consequences of an individual’s life rippling through eternity. Does this mean that you believe in an afterlife? In a heaven or a hell?

Sonmi-451: I believe death is only a door. When it closes, another opens. If I cared to imagine a heaven, I would imagine a door opening and behind it, I would find him there.


Robert Frobisher: Sixsmith. I climb the steps of the Scott Monument every morning and all becomes clear. Wish I could make you see this brightness. Don’t worry, all is well. All is so perfectly, damnably well. I understand now that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.


Robert Frobisher: I believe we do not stay dead long. Find me beneath the Corsican stars where we first kissed. Yours eternally, R.F.


Robert Frobisher: This world spins from the same unseen forces that twist our hearts.


Dr. Henry Goose: There is only one rule that binds all people. One governing principle that defines every relationship on God’s green earth: The weak are meat, and the strong do eat.


Sonmi-451: To be is to be perceived. And so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other. The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds that go on apportioning themselves throughout all time.


Timothy Cavendish: We cross and re-cross our old paths like figure-skaters.

The Intouchables: ‘You can’t give up, you’re still alive…’


‘The Intouchables’ tells the  story of a wealthy, physically disabled French aristocrat, , who has lost his wife in an accident and whose world is turned upside down when he hires a young, good-humored, black Muslim ex-con as his caretaker. Their bond proves the power and omniscience that love and friendship can hold over all social and economic differences.

Besides the heart wrenching story-line, the movie is remarkable for its sound tracks ranging from soft sensitive melodies to jazz and pop bringing out the exuberance and joy of a life fully lived.


The piano recitals by the great Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi adds a touch of pathos to the story line, especially ‘Fly’ and Una Mattina:

The Boogie Wonderland song to which Eddy dances to in this movie is by the 70’s Afro-American group – Earth Wind and Fire which was described by Rolling Stones as the band that   “changed the sound of black pop”:

Another remarkable song is Feeling Good by Nina Simone. Besides ‘The Intouchable’ this song has been used as a background score for many Hollywood movies and T.V. shows including ‘Point of No Return’, and ‘Person of Interest’:

Feeling Good (Lyrics)

Birds flying high you know how I feel
Sun in the sky you know how I feel
Breeze driftin’ on by you know how I feel.It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life for me yeah

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me
And I’m feeling good

Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River running free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don’t you know
Butterflies all havin’ fun you know what I mean
Sleep in peace when day is done that’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world for me

Stars when you shine you know how I feel
Scent of the pine you know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me

And I’m feeling good.


However, one of my favorite songs from this movie  is ‘Red Lights’ by Vib Gyor. it’s lyrics are as follows:

Red Lights (Lyrics)

Called out loud
Black smoke pours out
Cars slow down

Called out loud
Black smoke pours out
Cars slow down
Red light no soundCrawl your way out of here
I’m watching over you
Should have slowed
I’m hit, it’s my fault
The fog came out of nowhere
I never saw it coming

If you’d only hold on
There’s a way of letting go
You can start again
If you’d only hold on
There’s a way I’m letting go
Won’t go through it again

You’re cold & so am I
You can’t give up, you’re still alive
And now you’re all that I’ve got
So stay calm it won’t be long

If you’d only hold on
There’s no way I’m letting go
We can start again
If you’d only hold on
There’s no way I’m letting go

I don’t know which way I’m going… (Won’t go through it again)

Do you think about me now?

Dead Poets Society: ‘But only in their dreams can men truly be free…’


One of Robin Williams most inspiring films, Dead Poets Society is about an unconventional English teacher -John Keating (played by Williams) and his students who are inspired by their teacher’s very original method of appreciating poetry and other deeper things in life.


John Keating: We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.


McAllister: “Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I’ll show you a happy man.”

John Keating: “But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”

McAllister: Tennyson?

John Keating: No, Keating.


John Keating : “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”


 John Keating: There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.

Henry David Thoreau

In movie, in one scene a poem by Henry David Thoreau is featured in a book lying on a students desk, however in reality it is a collection of extracts from his work “Where I Lived”, Chapter 2 :

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, …”


John Keating: They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

The phrase ‘carpe diem’ is a Latin aphorism usually translated to “seize the day”, taken from a poem in the Odes book 1, number 11) in 23 BC by the poet Horace which goes like this….”be wise, be truthful, strain the wine, and scale back your long hopes to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled: seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day”

Horace was a leading Roman poet at the time of Augustus.


John Keating: Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!

Henry David Thoreau was an American writer and philosopher, and the full quote is :

‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.’


In one scene, one of Keating’s student – Todd Anderson under his teacher’s cajoling composes the following poem impromptu: 

A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.

His hands reach out and choke me.

And all the time he’s mumbling.

Mumbling truth.

Truth like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.

You push it, stretch it, it’ll never be enough. You kick at it, beat it, it’ll never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it’ll just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.


John Keating: This is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls.


John Keating: Language was developed for one endeavor, and that is – Mr. Anderson? Come on, are you a man or an amoeba?


John Keating: Mr. Perry?

Neil: To communicate.

John Keating: No! To woo women!


John Keating: O Captain, my Captain. Who knows where that comes from? Anybody? Not a clue? It’s from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can either call me Mr. Keating, or if you’re slightly more daring, O Captain my Captain.

O Captain ! My Captain !

By Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
                         But O heart! heart! heart!
                            O the bleeding drops of red,
                               Where on the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
                         Here Captain! dear father!
                            This arm beneath your head!
                               It is some dream that on the deck,
                                 You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
                         Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
                            But I with mournful tread,
                               Walk the deck my Captain lies,
                                  Fallen cold and dead.


The Soulful Agonizing Song in ‘The Mist’

Lisa Gerard, courtesy Wikipedia
Lisa Gerard, courtesy Wikipedia

This is another movie to which Lisa Gerrard of the famed ‘Dead Can Dance’ group lent her haunting voice.Lisa Gerrard (born 12 April 1961) is an Australian musician, singer and composer who became famous as part of the music group Dead Can Dance with her music partner Brendan Perry. She has lent her soulful voice to many block busters like ‘Gladiater’, ‘Heat’, ‘Black Hawk Dawn’ and many more. Lisa has sung many of her songs in idioglossia, an invented language of her own.

The music of ‘The Mist’ is composed by none other than Mark Isham who also composed the sound track for ‘Crash’. Mark Ware Isham (born September 7, 1951) is an American trumpeter and film composer. He works in a variety of genres, including jazz, electronic and film. He is responsible for contributing the scores of nearly one hundred films. The song is played in the climax scene towards the end of the film, when the protagonist, David,  shoots his son and three friends to save them from an agonizing death by the alien monsters, only to discover minutes later that a massive rescue operation was on its way and they all would have been saved….


MAN ON FIRE: Because in your eyes are my wings…..


This movie is set in Mexico where kidnapping of children from rich families for a hefty ransom is of common occurrence. In this backdrop of a  crime ridden society of thugs and corrupt cops blossoms a very beautiful bond between a little girl, superbly portrayed by Dakota Fanning and her body guard, played by Denzel Washington,who is really good at playing  complex characters with suppressed emotions.

One of my favorite songs, among many in this movie, is Una Palabra. It is written and performed

by the Cuban singer, Carlos Valera who at one time was a part of Nueva Trova musical movement, a political and poetic musical genre connected with the Cuban Revolution. The songs and its lyrics touch a myriad of human emotions:

Una palabra no dice nada
y al mismo tiempo lo esconde todo
igual que el viento que esconde el agua
como las flores que esconde el lodo.

Una mirada no dice nada
y al mismo tiempo lo dice todo
como la lluvia sobre tu cara
o el viejo mapa de algun tesoro.

Una verdad no dice nada
y al mismo tiempo lo esconde todo
como una hoguera que no se apaga
como una piedra que nace polvo.

Si un dia me faltas no sere nada
y al mismo tiempo lo sere todo
porque en tus ojos estan mis alas
y esta la orilla donde me ahogo,
porque en tus ojos estan mis alas
y esta la orilla donde me ahogo.


A word does not say anything
And at the same time it hides everything
Just as the wind that hides the water
Like the flowers that mud hides.

A glance does not say anything
And at the same time it says everything
Like rain on your face
Or an old treasure map

A truth does not say anything
And at the same time it hides everything
Like a bonfire that does not go out
Like a stone that is born dust.

If one day you need me, I will be nothing
And at the same time I will be everything
Because in your eyes are my wings
And the shore where I drown,
Because in your eyes are my wings
And the shore where I drown

Another beautiful song sung by Australia based Irish singer, Lisa Gerrard in her haunting voice is called ‘Coming Home‘. She is the same singer who sang ‘Now we are Free’ in the film ‘Gladiator’. I was unable to find the lyrics of this song, but as they say, the language of music needs no translation:

And finally a  Mexican/Spanish song by Gabriel Gonzales and written by Meri Gavin called ‘ Angel Vengador‘, I presume it means, the avenging angel. The lyrics go something like this:

I am all alone and lost,

and to ease the pain i curse them one by one (uno a uno los maldigo),

I am an avenging angel.

FRACTURE: The Waiting Place….

Another piece of brilliant acting by Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling in this movie about a jealous husband (Hopkins), who’s a millionaire and structural engineer. He schemes a clever plot to kill his unfaithful wife and get away with it. When  is found innocent of the attempted murder of his wife (Davidtz), the young hot shot district attorney (Gosling) who is prosecuting him decides to put his career at risk in his for the pursuit of  justice.

During the course of the moive, Willy (Gosling) reads out a poem at Jennifer’s (Davidtz) bedside when she is in a coma from the gunshot to her head. It’s from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (1990) by American children’s book author Theodor Seuss Geisel, popularly known as Dr Seuss. In it, Seuss writes about the ‘waiting place.’ Rather intriguing, I think:

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

“Do you dare stay out?
Do you dare go in?
And IF you go in –
Should you turn left or right?
Or right and three-quarters?
Or maybe not quite.
You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race,
Down long wiggled roads at break- necking pace
And grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
Headed I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…
For people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
Or a bus to come, or a plane to go
Or the mail to come, or the rain to go
Or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
Or waiting around for a Yes or No
Or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
Or waiting for wind to fly a kite
Or waiting around for Friday night
Or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake
Or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
Or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
Or a wig with curls…
Or Another Chance.”


Pride: Beautiful Song About Oppression and the Undying Human Spirit

The back drop is a mining village in Wales in the year 1984.This movie is the story about a  unique alliance between gay and lesbian activists and a mining community on a lengthy strike and their    fight against oppression and prejudice of the Thatcher government, police and orthodox society. This movie is loosely based on real life event.

There is a very moving song in the movie : at a community gathering of miners and their families titled’ Bread and Roses’, taken from a poem with similar title by James Oppenheim.

Its lyrics are as follows:

As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: “Bread and roses! Bread and roses!”

As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!

As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for—but we fight for roses, too!

As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler—ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!

Incidentally, the leading female Welsh singer, Bronwen who sang this song was actually rejected by the judges of the popular music reality show, ‘The Voice’, UK, but she found well deserved fame in this film.

The macabre yet fascinating world of Edgar Allan Poe in ‘The Raven’

This American mystery thriller film directed by James McTeigue deals with the subconscious fascinations of the human psyche. The  screenplay is by Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare.[5] It stars John Cusack, Alice Eve,Brendan Gleeson and Luke Evans.

The movie opens with the following title card:

On October 7, 1849, Edgar Allan Poe was found, near death, on a park bench in Baltimore, Maryland. The last days of his life remain a mystery.

Set in 1849, it is a fictionalized account of the last days of Edgar Allan Poe‘s life, in which Poe along with a police detective  tries to track down a serial killer whose murders mirror those in Poe’s stories. While the plot of the film is fictional, it is inspired by  some accounts of real situations surrounding Edgar Allan Poe’s mysterious death. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name “Reynolds” on the night before his death, Nobody could figure out to  whom he was referring. The title of the movie derives from Poe’s poem “The Raven“, This poem is based on an hypnogogic experience that Poe had in real life while he was mourning the demise of his lost love – Lenore.


The following is my favorite extract from the poem Raven:

……...Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.


John Cussak, as Poe  is shown reciting the  following extract from the same poem  in the movie:

…..And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!


On another occasion Poe is shown writing down the following account describing slow suffocation of his lover, Emily:

 Her innocence was the first part of her soul to die.

And while it happened, he stood still watching to fully enjoy the dreadful metamorphosis from a life full of hope to death without purpose.

The gossamer white of bone was now visible beneath the tattered meat of her fingertips,as Emily clawed madly at the wooden slats of her coffin, a desperate, drowning animal.

The dirt rose around her, the inescapable sand of an hourglass, as her final breath of air slipped her into the twilight of consciousness until. He knew now that all hope was lost. 

He had failed his beloved, and there was one last thing left to do.

One last act. “A final desperate plea: one life offered for another’s.” 

 “Poe could feel the poison already feeding on his blood, “as the maggots were soon to do.”


In the movie his  editor, Maddux, had the following to say about Poe:

” I believe that God gave him a spark of genius and quenched it in misery. But as far as something like this… The only thing he’s ever killed is a bottle of brandy.”


In one of the scenes, while narrating the death of his wife and the effect it had on him, Poe says:

“the dark and morbid melancholy that has followed me like a black dog all my life.”


In a pub scene where Poe is desperate for a drink he says:

“What brandy cannot cure  has no cure.”


In the last scene where Poe is shown to be breathing his last, his following quote is heard in the background:

Take this kiss upon the brow!

And, in parting from you now

Thus much let me avow

You are not wrong, who deem

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.


Finally the soundtrack of the movie, Burn My Shadow’, is performed by Unkle featuring Ian Astbury is equally dark and morbid:

I have burned my tomorrows
And I stand inside today
At the edge of the future
And my dreams all fade away

I have burned my tomorrows
And I stand inside today
At the edge of the future
And my dreams all fade away

And burn my shadow away
And burn my shadow away

I faced my destroyer
I was ambushed by a lie
And you judged me once for falling
This wounded heart will rise

And burn my shadow away
And burn my shadow away

When I see the light
True love forever
When I see the light
True love forever
When I see the light
True love forever
When I see the light
True love forever

When I see the light
True love forever (burn my shadow)
When I see the light
True love forever
When I see the light
True love forever (burn my shadow)
When I see the light
True love forever (away)

And burn my shadow away
And burn my shadow away

Oh, how I loved you