“The Raven” was one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous poems and arguably one of his best. It was also the inspiration for parts of the new movie, The Raven. The movie was a conglomeration of Poe’s most famous poems and short stories. Readers will recognize stories such as “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and “Annabel Lee.”
The movie may not be for hardcore Poe fans who will nitpick the accuracy of the movie because the writers and director obviously used quite a bit of artistic license. The movie takes place during 1849 in Baltimore, Maryland. It is after his first wife, Virginia, had died. The whole story hinges on his love for the Maryland heiress, Emily Hamilton.
The story starts when a murderer locks the door to a room, kills two women, and escapes out of a seemingly locked window. The detective who comes to investigate, Emmet Fields, recognizes the murder as a scene from a story. After realizing that the story was by Edgar Allan Poe, who had just returned to Baltimore, Poe immediately becomes a suspect. After determining that the murder was not performed by Poe, Fields has Poe help with the murders, relying on his “unwholesome expertise.”
After the murder based on the “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” we see Poe’s rival, Griswald, sliced in half based on “The Pit and the Pendulum.” The murderer leaves a note informing Poe that he will be at the masquerade ball held by Emily’s father.
At the ball, a man takes Emily and leaves Poe a note telling him that unless he solves the mystery, Emily will die. Following that there are several more gruesome murders from different stories. Finally Poe writes a story for the newspaper telling the murderer that if he gives up Emily, Poe will kill himself. After the newspaper is delivered, Poe realizes that the murderer works at the office. He initially assumes it is his editor, trying to find a way to encourage new gruesome crowd pleasers, but soon realizes who the real culprit is. After finding the murderer, he explains that he was so upset when Poe stopped writing that he had to find a way to force him to write new stories. The killer then forces Poe to drink poison. After drinking the poison, the killer reveals Emily’s location. Before the poison takes Poe, he manages to communicate to fields who assassinated everyone.
The storyline was interesting, and the movie was well done. For those who enjoy it there were several gory, gruesome scenes. It was a fictional story mixed with bits and pieces of truth, which made it more believable and interesting.
The only problem I had with the movie was the casting of John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe. John Cusack is not a gripping actor. He is great in fluffy, forgettable love stories. Edgar Allan Poe was an arrogant, alcoholic, drug addict. This role would have been better if someone like Johnny Depp or Robert Downey, Jr., both of whom can play conceited substance abusers extremely well.
Despite the one minor qualm with the movie, it was definitely worth seeing. I would recommend this movie for anyone to see.