The story, while not biographical, is founded on incidents in his life, showing his devotion for his sick wife, Virginia. Desperate from his utter helplessness to ameliorate his dying ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Barry O'Moore ...
Edgar Allan Poe (as Herbert Yost)
...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Clara T. Bracy
Anita Hendrie ...
Second Publisher's Wife
...
First Publisher
...
Second Publisher
...
Resident Poet
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Storyline

The story, while not biographical, is founded on incidents in his life, showing his devotion for his sick wife, Virginia. Desperate from his utter helplessness to ameliorate his dying wife's suffering, owing to extreme destitution, he is in a frenzy of grief, when a raven is seen to perch on a bust of Pallas above the door of their cold, cheerless apartment. An inspiration! He sets to work, and that masterpiece. "The Raven," is the fruit. During his work he has divested himself of his coat, putting it over his wife to protect her from the cold. The poem finished, he rushes coatless and hatless to the publisher, where he meets with scant attention. One editor, however, thinks the work possesses some merit and offers ten dollars for it. Ten dollars for the greatest jewel in the diadem of fame - think of it! Poe thinks of the comforts, meager though they needs must be, for his poor wife and accepts the offer. Hastening to the store, he procures food, a heavy comfortable for the cot, and ... Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

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poet | See All (1) »

Genres:

Short | Biography | Drama

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Release Date:

8 February 1909 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Edgar Allen Poe  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Le contrôle de l'univers (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Pop goes the Raven
25 July 2009 | by (Ruritania) – See all my reviews

Like many of the earliest Biograph shorts, the title cards for Edgar Allan Poe have gone missing. In the version they made available as an extra on The Avenging Conscience DVD, Kino decided against attempting a restoration. A wise choice; this motion picture has no need of words.

Although Griffith was yet to develop the advances to the editing process he is well known for, his staging of drama, his use of space and his handling of actors already placed him well ahead of his peers in making cinema a form of visual storytelling. Typically, a short like this might begin with a title card describing Poe as a struggling writer, but actually his conditions are adequately revealed to us through the small, dimly lit set, an interior which is made all the more confining by that sloping wall on the left of the frame. Also of note is the following scene in which Poe is turned away by the publishing house. Most directors of this time would directly show Poe talking to the publisher, but Griffith places another man (I assume the "resident poet" from the cast list) unconcernedly working away in the foreground. This touch, which would be unremarkable in a film made five years later, adds realism to the setting and the necessary tone of unpleasantness to the situation.

Griffith's shorts from 1909 vary immensely in quality, and some of his attempts at action episodes are appalling (see for example Voice of the Violin, released six weeks after this), but this understated drama is nicely suited to his abilities of the time, and satisfying on its own simple terms. It's ironic though that it draws from the life of one of Griffith's favourite authors, because its style owes more to theatrical traditions than the literary narrative techniques that would galvanise his later pictures.


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