This short film has Saphire reciting Poe's eerie verse and enacting the events in a shabby but modern room.
His recitation is okay but these modernizations -- of Poe, Shakespeare, or practically anybody else -- are disorienting. (An exception is "Bartleby", the one with Christian Slater.) I mean -- here we have the narrator who, judging from the poem, has a certain class bespeaking refinement. You and I don't have a bust of Athena anywhere in our living quarters. (Or DO you?)
And, even stoned, I'd hesitate before referring to "the night's Plutonian shore." As an actor, Saphire looks like a young guy starring in his own movie and doing his very best in a soiled singlet, beard, accompanied by booze and weed. It's hard to imagine that bust of Pallas because the single room he occupies is already so cluttered with furniture and an 8 mm. projector showing vacation shots of his lost love Lenore.
Yet, despite its weaknesses, it's not a failure. After all, how much can you do with the kind of budget that wouldn't feed a gerbil for more than a few days? And, as I say, his reading of the verse passes muster, filled though it is with resignation and regret rather than terror, Poe's usual coin.
The poet himself may or may not have been a nice guy and truly his lines at time may be repetitious (tinkle, tinkle) but for a madman he was a genius. His clever damnations of self often move me. Years ago I wandered through the house in Philadelphia where he'd written this poem. The interior walls were covered with whitewashed plasterboard but one corner had a tiny opening, barely noticeable, beneath which could be seen the primitive crumbling brick of 1840. I pinched a piece of that grainy dust.
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