Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cinema Saturday

The Raven
20th Century Fox
October 9, 2012
110 minutes; R for 'bloody violence and grisly images'
(with John Cusack, Alice Eve, Luke Evans)
info at IMDb/buy Blu-ray & DVD/Amazon Instant Video

"Tell me, how does such a large man escape so quickly from a room in which the door has been locked from the inside... and the window nailed shut?"

At just about ten minutes into The Raven Luke Evans' Detective Fields character introduces readers the movie murders' - and the murderer's escape's - similarities to those written by Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack). The first bearing similarities to "The Murders in the Rue Morgue."

Detective Fields has read Poe's work and recognizes the similarities, first wondering if Poe might be a suspect, then allowing Poe to help him prevent future murders. They join together to bring the crimes of this killer, inspired by Poe, to an end.

One of my favorite stories by Poe is "The Tell-Tale Heart." One thing that I especially love about it is how quickly you get a sense of the character in just the first few paragraphs. Right away you know who he is and get a great sense of him. I thought, "The Raven" did something similar with Poe. We see Poe in a bar, wanting a drink, but not having the money. Trying to be affable but no one's really buying it. And he wants someone to know, "The Raven," but they don't - at least not how he wants.

It's definitely not the most sympathetic way to introduce a main character, but it gives a great sense of who he is.

It also makes the alibi given for him later, "Only thing that he's ever killed is a bottle of brandy," extraordinary believable.

That's not to say The Raven is about Poe being a drunkard no one knows.  He is an alcoholic, yes, but much of the movie involves his (fictional) relationship with Emily Hamilton (Alice Eve) whose father despises Poe. He knows with the murders happening and any doubt to his innocence they stand even less of a chance as to his approval.

He's also working to find his next, great story - the one that will not only keep his writing in the paper but keep it from being hidden away in the back pages.

In The Raven, we see the genius of Poe that produced all of those great stories and poems, but also the trouble personal, internal trouble that he endured. He's not made out to be a saint, but that makes him more real and an even better character. The Raven and its characters - Cusack as Poe, especially - are full of quick, dry, good humor mixed in with the Gothic  19th century horror that produces more tension and nail biting than present-day horrors.

The ending, second-half maybe did lack a bit of oomph overall that kept it from being a great movie. It was still a good movie, though, that I had a great time watching and will, honestly, watch again.

The scenery and costuming in, The Raven is fantastic and really helps to set the mood. I hadn't heard a lot about this when it was first out - or didn't hear good maybe? - but love that I've seen it. A killer inspired by Poe stories ("Murders at the Rue Morgue," "Masque of the Red Death," and more) and Poe's brought in to solve it? Pretty fantastic.

As this is a fictional tale, a few things are moved around (and a historically real person fictionally murdered in the movie) and characters invented, but a lot of Poe's life was kept true to form. See my Guide to Poe  I posted yesterday, if you want to know about him before watching The Raven.

Another Movie You Might Also Enjoy: Sleepy Hollow

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, I love Edgar Allen Poe, but didn't have much interest in seeing this movie. I planned on seeing it at some point, but wasn't in much of a rush. I wasn't sure how taking Poe's life and turning it into a murder mystery was going to work. But after reading your review I really genuinely want to watch it. Like right now!

    P.S. I just read your Quote of the Moment on the sidebar from Blood Moon and cracked up. I LOVE Alyxandra Harvey and her constant Buffy references :D


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