Edgar Allan Poe, a 19th-century poet who embraced the gloom and sorrow of macabre literature, is an iconic figure in contemporary art, particularly in cinematic presentation. Many films have told incredible stories with fictitious twists on his life. This legendary poet is also featured in the recently released Netflix original “The Pale Blue Eye.” However, the story is entirely fictional, and an adaptation of Louis Bayard’s novel of the same name, but the film did a stunning job at portraying Allan Poe (played by Harry Melling) as an outcast and admirer of melancholy. As the story progresses, Poe and his new companion Landor investigate a string of murders at the United States Military Academy. However, the occult practices and soul-trading with the Devil come to light as one of the motivations for these crimes. Let’s elaborate on it.
In 1830, an investigator named Augustus Landor was sent to the United States Military Academy to investigate a series of bizarre killings. A student was discovered hanged, and later in the academy, he was found with his chest dissected and his heart removed. Cadet Edgar Allan Poe volunteered to help Landor. In the course of the investigation, Landor came across a magic circle at a mysterious place. Some melted candles had been found at the center with a drop of blood. The circle’s look suggested occultism, which gave Landor strong suspicions. In order to get help, he went to his friend Jean-Pepe. Pepe identified it as a witchcraft circle. He pulled out a worn-out book by Pierre de Lancre, a renowned French witch hunter who had executed a massive number of witches in 1609. Pepe also spoke about a contemporary witch hunter, Henri Le
Clerc, who had killed 700 witches and had written three volumes of books, one of which is identical to the one written by Pierre de Lancre. His volumes had been burned, but one of his books, “Discourse du Diable,” had survived and been sought after by numerous witchcraft practitioners. Landor later discovered, with the assistance of Poe, that Artemus Marquis, a cadet at the institution, had a sister named Lea who suffered from an untreatable seizure. The Marquis family’s ancestor was none other than Henri Le Clerc, a priest who was slandered for his communion with the Devil. He, too, worshiped the Devil and mentioned bizarre rituals in his books, one of which had been found in Daniel’s library. Dr. Daniel Marquis, the father of Artemus and Lea, claimed that his daughter had seen her great, great, great grandfather, who had advised her that she could regain her health by performing a ritual. Daniel turned to this satanic ritual because he was fed up with being told that no matter what he tried, he couldn’t save his daughter from her inevitable death. As stated in the book, this ceremony required dirty animals that Christian people do not consume and the hearts of unbaptized humans and hanged men. Artermus and Lea recognized their window of opportunity to carry on the ritual when they discovered two hanged cadets in the wilderness. Though they did not kill those cadets, as the identity of the killer was revealed in the second half of the film, they were on the verge of killing Poe, who was willing to go to any length for Lea. He was driven by love and wanted to save her, but Lea was merely using him as a puppet whose heart would be severed in order to preserve her life. Landor questioned how Dr. Daniel, who is a physician, could permit his kids to engage in such behavior. Daniel, though, was blinded by love for his children. Lea, Artemus, and their mother continued to chant their spell as Artemus prepared to extract Poe’s heart, but Landor intervened to save Poe while Lea and Artemus were stuck, and a beam of fire landed on them, resulting in their deaths.
Though Henri Le Clerc was a completely fictitious figure in this story, Pierre de Lancre existed in 1609. He was a Bordeaux-based French judge. He practiced witchcraft in Labourd during the reign of King Henry IV, who ordered him to stop worshiping the Devil. So, at the king’s command, he murdered a significant number of witches in Basque. He published multiple Sabbath books, some of which contained weird beliefs about satanic sexual encounters with witches. He was undoubtedly accountable for instilling blind trust in the minds of others. He was an advocate and a member of law enforcement, yet he had grotesque ideologies running wild throughout his mind. Later, he was referred to as a ludicrous fanatic by a number of historians.
Horror and macabre themes in the 19th century were associated with witchcraft, devil worship, or human sacrifice in pursuit of eternal life. With Edgar Allan Poe at its side, “The Pale Blue Eye” conjures up the same atmosphere. “The Pale Blue Eye” represented a culture that was blinded by its religious convictions, whether they were for God or the Devil. Henri Le Clerc’s time as a priest is where it all began. He was a devil worshiper who thought that, in order to become immortal, one must sacrifice a human to the Devil. The same was true during the time of Daniel Marquis, who, although a man of science himself, thought that this rite would grant his daughter the life she deserved. Even Artemus, a cadet and aspiring soldier, became involved in these sinister ceremonies to save his sister’s life. Lea, meanwhile, was consumed by selfishness and didn’t see anything wrong with killing someone else for her own benefit. Lea made the decision to use Poe’s obedience for her health, because of Poe’s love for her. The Marquis family was respected and well-liked in their town for their heritage and education, but they made poor decisions and took the wrong route to gain a life gifted by Satan. However, in the end, it caused their family to be destroyed by Lea and Artemus’ horrific deaths. They wanted Lea to live for eternity, but nothing so worthwhile ever comes without a price. And the price is honesty and compassion; otherwise, greed and selfishness could only conjure death.