The Pale Blue Eye (2023)

 

The Pale Blue Eye (2023)

The Pale Blue Eye: A Murder Mystery Thriller Set in 1830 with Edgar Allan Poe as a Character:

"The Pale Blue Eye" film is based on Louis Bayard's 2006 novel of the same name. The novel, a blend of invention and homage, thrusts Bayard into the limelight as it features him as a character alongside the young Edgar Allan Poe. With its mix of historical accuracy and imaginative storytelling, Bayard's novel serves as the perfect source material for Scott Cooper's upcoming film, set to premiere on Netflix this Friday, January 6th. Get ready to delve into the mystery and intrigue of the past, as Bayard's novel comes to life on the big screen.

"The Pale Blue Eye" tells the Bale's personal story, a former commissioner, who assisted the young Edgar Alan Bo to solve mystery behind a series of heinous murders. The film is located in 1830, and the film is to be a familiar and lustful film, which is a departure from the previous works of Cooper such as "Fires of Anger", "Handbone" and "The Hungry". Get ready to transfer it in time and try a story sweeping crime and conspiracies.

Edgar Allan Poe, a well-known figure in Western literature and culture, is famous for his haunting poems and macabre short stories. To this day, his life and death are shrouded in mystery, making him a popular source of inspiration for filmmakers and writers alike. Two notable interpretations of Poe on screen include John Cusack's portrayal in "The Shadow of Evil" and Ben Chaplin's take in "Twixt." Both performances have offered unique interpretations of the literary icon and showcased the versatility of his legacy in popular culture.

A Fictional Tale of Young Edgar Allan Poe and the West Point Mystery

With this Louis Bayard's novel, we are introduced to a young Edgar Allan Poe, who stands out as an unexpected recruit at a military school among his uniform-clad peers. Bayard draws inspiration from the legendary author to create his own universe and investigation, while fictionalizing a young Poe, referred to as "1st year Poe" by Commissioner Landor, who serves as the narrator. The novel blends historical fact with imaginative storytelling to bring to life a fresh perspective on the young and upcoming Edgar Allan Poe.

In West Point Military School, a young cadet named Leroy Fry is found hanging from a tree, seemingly a suicide. However, the following day, Fry's body disappears from the morgue, his heart having been stolen. The mystery surrounding Fry's death and the bizarre disappearance of his heart sets the stage for an intriguing investigation at the heart of Louis Bayard's novel, "The Pale Blue Eye."

Commissioner Gus Landor is tasked with investigating the strange circumstances surrounding Leroy Fry's death and heart theft. As the investigation progresses, it becomes clear that Fry's death was in fact a murder. Landor, a gruff but sympathetic figure, recognizes the keen observational skills of young Edgar Allan Poe and decides to enlist his help in solving the case. Together, the unlikely duo works to uncover the identity of the murderer and bring justice to Fry and his family.

It's important to note that Louis Bayard's novel is not a factual account of Edgar Allan Poe's life during his time at West Point in 1830. The novel is a work of fiction, taking only Poe's name and his legendary reputation as inspiration for the character. The other aspects of Poe's life depicted in the story are also largely fictionalized. Readers should not expect to find any historical accuracy in the novel and should approach it as a work of pure fiction, separate from any real-life events or people.

In a unique approach, Louis Bayard makes Edgar Allan Poe a secondary character in the novel. The story is told from the perspective of Commissioner Gus Landor, who takes the young poet under his wing and guides him through the investigation. This decision allows the reader to see the events unfold through the eyes of Landor, offering a fresh perspective on the legendary figure of Edgar Allan Poe.

However, Bayard adds an interesting twist to the story. While Landor is the narrator, he frequently interrupts his narrative to correct what he recalls, giving the impression that he's unsure of his memory. This detail is significant, as Edgar Allan Poe is known for writing short stories told by narrators who are often unstable and convey their tales through the lens of their neuroses or even madness (such as in "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-Tale Heart"). This approach by Bayard adds an extra layer of intrigue, making the reader question the reliability of the narrator and the accuracy of the events being described.

Bayard's choice of style is a nod to fans of Edgar Allan Poe and provides insights into the progression of the story. Soon, the seemingly eccentric Poe becomes a more reliable reference point for the reader than the protagonist and narrator, Landor.

Edgar Allan Poe is renowned for his dark and haunting poetry, but he's also known for his detective novels that feature complex plots and surprising twists, such as "The Stolen Letter" and "The Mystery of Marie Roget". These novels revolve around the detective, Auguste Dupin. It's worth noting that the protagonist of Louis Bayard's "A Pale Blue Eye", Gus Landor, is also named Augustus and shares a last name with the protagonist in Poe's short story "The Landor Cottage."

A Thrilling Detective Story Bridging Poe and Dupin

In A Pale Blue Eye, Bayard positions his novel as a bridge between Poe and his famous detective, Auguste Dupin. The protagonist, Gus Landor, embodies both the qualities of a model investigator as well as a subject of intellectual examination. While history tells us that Poe created his detective reasoning solely through his writing, Bayard offers a delightful alternate reality in which Poe could have aspired to be a Dupin-like figure before crafting his own legendary detective.

Throughout the novel, Bayard has planted a scavenger hunt for fans of Poe. References to Poe's works, such as Double Assassination in the Rue Morgue and Ligeia, are scattered throughout the story, delighting connoisseurs and adding to the overall atmosphere. These references not only contribute to the creation of the world in which Poe will later find inspiration for his masterpieces, but also challenge the reader to join in the investigation. By paying attention to these nods to Poe's work, the reader will be able to pick up on subtle hints about the direction of the story, making the journey to its resolution all the more exciting.

Unfortunately, Bayard's novel also falls into this same pattern. While seeking to emulate Poe's style and themes, the female characters in the story are reduced to objects of male obsession, existing only through the fixation a male character has with them, be it their image or memory. This perpetuates the trope of the dead or soon-to-be-dead young woman that was a recurring motif in Poe's literature.

Bayard's attempt at drawing inspiration from Poe's literature unfortunately leads to falling into the same traps. One of Poe's recurring themes was to depict the torment of a narrator following the death of a beautiful young woman whom they were deeply in love with. This is reflected in Bayard's novel, where female characters serve as mere objects of obsession for male characters, existing only through the thoughts and memories of men. This can come across as clumsy and oversimplified in a classic detective story, compared to the nuance in Poe's poems.

However, Bayard tackles this challenge head-on, taking on the task of appropriating Poe's work, which is no small feat for any author. To make the task more interesting, he has young Poe narrate passages and present his poems to Landor. This may result in some clumsiness compared to the elegance of Poe's writing, but it also provides a refreshing perspective, humanizing the iconic author through fiction and moving away from theoretical and academic approaches.

The skill of Bayard lies in crafting a thrilling novel with a touch of early nineteenth century. The setting of a military academy, the buttoned-up soldiers taking orders from proud, low-browed officers, the decomposing body of a deceased person watched over in an alcohol bath, the tavern where people come to warm up, are all depicted with vivid detail, creating a rich atmosphere.

It's refreshing to have a twist on the classic Victorian thriller that has been popularized by the legacy of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes himself is a direct descendant of Auguste Dupin, and although Watson's popularity has overshadowed Dupin, Bayard's nod to the roots of detective fiction is a welcome change.

Bayard incorporates the twist, a crucial element that adds flavor to his predecessors' stories, into his own work. Although it has become a fashionable ingredient in contemporary stories, it still manages to retain its impact. However, in Bayard's novel, the twist serves to conclude a logical progression and highlights Edgar Poe's significance in the story. This way, Bayard brings together modern and classic elements, making his detective story both current and faithful to the literary tradition he honors.

Comparing "A Pale Blue Eye" to"The Secret of the Pyramid": A Study in Cinematic Storytelling.

From Preminger to Shyamalan, the twist has become a staple in cinema screenplays. A Pale Blue Eye is a novel that captures the essence of cinema with its vivid imagery and codes. It's no surprise that it's now being adapted for the screen, as its formula fits in with the recent trend of adaptations. With the recent portrayals of Sherlock Holmes by Benedict Cumberbatch and Robert Downey Jr., and the renewed interest in Agatha Christie's works through Kenneth Branagh's adaptations, Louis Bayard's novel seems poised to continue the trend by bringing Edgar Allan Poe back into the spotlight.

To make a more accurate cinematographic comparison with the novel, we have to look back to 1985 and the film "The Secret of the Pyramid" directed by Barry Levinson.

The film features a young Sherlock Holmes in his first investigation, setting the tone for the character's later depictions. Similarly, "A Pale Blue Eye" has a poetic and literary tone, reminiscent of Levinson's film, but with perhaps more humor.

While Scott Cooper may have a darker style than Levinson, he may also succeed in telling the imaginative origin story of a literary legend, much like "The Secret of the Pyramid."