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"It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea, That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee; And this maiden she lived with no other thought, than to love and be loved by me . . . ." And so begins one of the most famous and haunting poem's from the enigmatic mind of one of literature's most prolific dark poets, Edgar Allan Poe. This chilling classic adapted for a 21st century audience. EDGAR ALLAN POE'S 'ANNABEL LEE' tells the story of Jack Blythe, an artist who rents a summer house in a quiet beach town to find creative inspiration. He gets more than he bargained for when he meets a beautiful but hauntingly mysterious woman who offers to be his subject for a painting. When Jack discovers that his seductive stranger resembles a woman presumed dead for 18 years, he becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth. Soon, Jack is caught up in a terrifying struggle that will unravel an unsolvable mystery and reveal a horrific secret. Written by
Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee places the poem in a contemporary setting
We recently screened the new Poe adaptation, Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee, as part of a series celebrating the bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe's birth.
Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee places the poem in a contemporary setting and tells the story of an artist who rents a seaside cabin for the summer, looking for inspiration. A beautiful and mysterious young woman appears, unexplained deaths from the past are uncovered, strange things start to happen, and the artist finds himself not only inspired but also drawn into solving a decade's old mystery.
Like many films based on Edgar Allan Poe's works, Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee departs from the letter of the text. However, unlike most Poe films, Annabel Lee remains true to Poe's spiritto the themes of obsessive love, the tragic beauty of the untimely death of a young womanand Annabel Lee captures Poe's sensibility, particularly Poe's ability to mix together in one story beauty and horror, suspense and humor, an exploration of the extremes of human behavior with subtle insights into human nature. For the student of Poe's work, the film is a delight for its multiple references and clever allusions to many of Poe's stories and poems, from "Annabel Lee" and "The Raven" to "The Gold Bug" (and other stories of codes and cyphers), "The Masque of Red Death," "The Cask of Amontillado," and Poe's detective fiction.
All of this is filtered through writer and director Michael Rissi's sensibility, which is as much post-Hitchcock as it is "after Poe." A cinematic style influenced by Hitchcock provides a perfect means of adapting Poe's literary style, themes, and motifs to film. Such a combination, and just the right mix of suspense and humor, provides a template for future Poe adapters, and hopefully Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee, by showing the way, will spark a renaissance of Poe films that finally and at last get Poe right.
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