Poe: Last Days of the Raven (2008)
This character driven film paints a psychological portrait of the great American writer Edgar Allan Poe, exploring the extraordinary life experiences that shaped his fascinating imagination. By weaving through the ethnography of Poe's dreams and nightmares, particularly the dying moments of himself and his loved ones, a complex plot line of past and present intermingles while Poe hovers near death in his hospital bed. We open with Poe lying unconscious in an alleyway in Baltimore. It is October 3, 1849 and the Congressional elections have just ended, and Poe has been discarded into the alley, after being used by a press gang to cast multiple false ballots for a crooked political campaign. Poe is discovered by his cousin Neilson and brought to Washington College Hospital where he remains until his death five days later, which is the focus of the story. In the hospital, Poe floats in and out of consciousness. Various visual cues transport Poe to intense moments in his past which inspired many of his phantasmagorical stories. There is always a connection made between the writing and the experience. For example when Poe's bride Virginia ruptures a throat vessel while playing a harp, The voice-over from Poe's sorrowful "Annabel Lee" underscores. Poe's first impressions of life are those as a backstage theater baby. Young Poe watches in horror as his Mother commits suicide on stage, establishing Poe's and the script's leitmotif of [all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream]. The sub theme of reincarnation plays an important part of the film, as part of the story takes place in modern times where the actor playing Poe in a stage production begins to experience unusual psychic connections to the past, and characters from Poe's life appear in a Jacob's ladder like ripping of reality, causing the actor to lose his sense of self and reality and the veil rends as to who is the real Poe and who is the actor, as both call to each other through the timeless space of consciousness. The mystery reaches a climax with Poe's wife's death timed in sequence with his own demise. (He experienced the death of his Mother, his foster Mother, his foster Father, his first love, his brother, and his wife (all to consumption). Throughout the film, there is a subtle theme of repressed sensuality, that Poe's own emotionally, immature sexuality manifests.- Written by brent fidler
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