Today is the 162nd anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s death and to commemorate the event there’s a whole lot of The Raven action going on. While marking a death date rather than a birth date may seem macabre, considering the subject at hand it seems more than appropriate.
Earlier this morning the trailer hit and a little bit later a group of journalists was ushered onto a conference call with the film’s director James McTeigue and star Luke Evans to discuss the film.
“Evans plays a detective who partners with Poe (John Cusack) to search for a serial killer who has kidnapped the author’s fiancee (Alice Eve) and has gone on a murder spree that mimics the author’s work.”
Hit the jump to check out some excerpts from the interview interspersed with some cool Edgar Allen Poe factoids.
James McTeigue on blending the historical and the fictional – “There’s a portion of it that’s fantastical because Poe is in the middle of a murder mystery… the nice thing about the film was taking facts of Poe’s life and taking his stories and melding them together in this fictional tale“.
Fact: Poe was deeply interested by cryptography, the creation and translation of secret codes, and was very proud of his ability to translate them. He would challenge readers of various publications where he worked to send him codes to decipher and, by all accounts, he seemed able to unlock the secrets to any he received.
McTiegue on Poe’s Legacy – “Poe’s stories in themselves are timeless stories and I think that’s why he’s still so iconic. He was the precursor to a lot of detective fiction and science fiction…”
Fact: Poe experienced periods of extreme destitution, often having to burn his furniture to keep warm during the winter.
Edgar Allan Poe was also a notorious addict, how does the movie handle it? “[Poe’s drug and alcohol use] is in the film. I don’t shy away from it. I mean that was the reality of Poe’s life. That part of his troubles was being an alcoholic, that part of his trouble was drinking opiate tinches, so that’s all in the film. It would be hard to do a movie that had Edgar Allen Poe as a character in it and to shy away from that stuff because that’s sort of what made him that man and informed his stories“.
Luke Evans on translating the violence of Poe’s macabre vision to the screen – “This film doesn’t shy away from how gory and how detailed the murder stories Poe wrote 160-something years ago [were] and how topical they are today and how shocking they are today.”
So you’re not shying away from an R rating, then? “No.”
Fact: Prior to becoming Poe’s wife at the age of 13, his female cousin Virginia acted as a courier, delivering letters to Poe’s lady loves.
McTeigue on competing with contemporary horror films that have lifted inspiration from Poe’s stories such as “The Pit And The Pendulum” – “We don’t try to live in the same space as ‘Saw’… Poe obviously had a macabre sense of humor as well as a macabre sensibility… we’re sort of more in the suspense thriller mode than a straight-out horror film like ‘Saw’.”
For the kills are you relying on practical effects or are you using GG in post? “There was a lot of real effects and plenty of prosthetics. I always find visual effects are always better if they’re based on something whether it’s prosthetics or model making or whatever you’re trying to do. There’s a good mixture in there. It’s probably about 60% practical and 40% digital“.
Fact: Edgar Allan Poe was buried in Westminster Burying Ground and had no headstone for years after his death. In 1860, Poe’s relatives commissioned a small headstone that erroneously listed Poe’s birth date as January 20 instead of January 19 and was destroyed in a train accident before it made it to the gravesite. In 1875 Poe’s remains were dug up and moved to a memorial site to be near his family and a gravestone was placed in the wrong spot and was moved around several times. This lead people to wonder not only where Poe’s original burial spot was but also if the man who was moved to the spot by the memorial is even Edgar Allan Poe.
McTeigue on avoiding the comparisons to Sherlock Holmes – “For me personally, no diss to Sherlock Holmes’ but ‘Sherlock Holmes’ is watching Robert Downey Jr. be comedic for two hours. Sometimes if Jude Law wasn’t calling him Sherlock I’d forget that I was watching a Sherlock Holmes movie. We’re a much different beast. We’re not as comedic. There’s some parallels to be drawn, we’re period and they’re period and there’s two central characters. But we’re about as close to ‘Sherlock Holmes’ as Transformers’ is.”