Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy World Goth Day! Rhapsodic on Poe Part 2

Hello friends, In my last Waxing Rhapsodic post on Edgar Allan Poe I said I'd share my thoughts on the film The Raven at a later date. What better date than World Goth Day?! A strangely beautiful World Goth Day to all of you! Hug your favourite black-clad soul, (yes, I count, I'm one of that deliciously and delightedly melancholy lot) and do yourselves a favor and play my favourite Goth band, VNV Nation, REALLY LOUD and dance around your house and the city streets like galumphing Tim Burton animation figures today. Remember, I'm one of those Perky Goths so have ridiculous fun with your emo self! By the way, I can't wait to share my upcoming novel The Twisted Tragedy of Miss Natalie Stewart with you, because I've created an 1880s Goth club and IT IS FULL OF AWESOME!
All right. So let's talk The Raven. No, it wasn't exactly historically accurate. (At all). But we knew that. Positing Poe as a detective in the last harried, mysterious days of his life is utterly fiction. In reality he was likely far less cogent, probably a lot farther off the deep-end and perhaps a bit less sympathetic. But no one can say his early death was not a tragedy. I would have craved as many more stories and poems as his broken heart and sad soul could have offered us. But, like many gifted persons, his candle simply lost flame.

What I loved about the film was the visual landscape. It was Gothic and stunning as I'd hoped it would be. I enjoyed Cusack's performance. He looked delicious. Bring on the men in tightly-fitted frock coats and billowing black great-coats! I liked seeing Poe as an active rather than reactive figure, I enjoyed the energy and animus the film gave to his character, and I appreciated those who appreciated him. I appreciated that the film dealt with his struggles, vices and those who misunderstood him. I loved being reminded of his creepy stories, I loved his written lines having a new voice and knowing his words will never lose their power. I could have done without the gore, Poe manages gore far more elegantly and delicately than Hollywood. I was pleased in that I did not find the film predictable, I was engrossed and entertained. Did I mention Cusack looked delicious? :)

Whatever allows for us to let Poe further into our lives, and to appreciate him on whatever level we can in popular culture, so be it. Huzzah. Celebrating him on the silver screen is better than relegating him to the shadows in which he lived. He shines brightly in dark splendor in my soul; the light of my muse. I am not covetous of that darkening light and hope it shines for all to see.

None of us should look to Hollywood for definitive accounts. This wasn't posited as the truth, so we must give it leave and license. We look to movies for imagination, and this film hardly lacked imagination and beauty, it was rife with both. I'd like to think Poe would have been greatly amused. (Not to mention he'd probably demand a few drinks and some royalties, rightfully so.)

Should you wish to know where the film derailed from truths, here's a wonderful resource from  "Philly Poe guy" Edward Pettit to help you distinguish fact from fiction.

I enjoy historical, fantastical fiction more than any other genre. I write it, I live it, I breathe it and I'm not entirely accurate either. I make choices for effect and storytelling. The film inspired me to hold fast to my great loves, write more of the Gothic tales I adore, and to continue to honor my muse, Mr. Poe. Evermore.

Join the inimitable Nancy Holder and I on May 26th at Romance at Random and you'll hear her take on the film along with mine, and how Poe influences our work.

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