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.

nevermore

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.

raven

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!

Poe_raven

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.”

raven2

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.”

raven5

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.”

raven6

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

“What brandy cannot cure  has no cure.”

raven3

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.

raven7

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

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