The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?– Edgar Allan Poe
The film, The Pale Blue Eye, opens with this line from the famous poet, Edgar Allan Poe. It is a fictional story of Augustine Landor, a retired detective, who comes to West Point to solve a series of murders. While on the job, he meets a cadet, the young Edgar Allan Poe, with whom he teams up to solve the murder. Through the investigation, a true friendship is formed with Poe and Landor.
The Pale Blue Eye Trailer
Death Is Hard To See
I was mostly uneasy while watching this film, but upon further reflection, I realized why I was so uncomfortable. Death was barbarously in my face. Death is hard to see, to watch. But why? Probably because it reminds us of our own impending death. It reminds us that we are not immortal beings, but that our time on earth will end. Most of us try to avoid thinking about the last things, but they can be a healthy reminder. Being aware that we will all die encourages us to view life as precious, to give our life meaning, to leave behind a legacy.
Amid the fog of endless death, there is a light throughout the film: Edgar Allan Poe. Poe is trustworthy, devoted, honorable. He conveys truth. He builds up those around him, makes them feel like they are worth something. The depth of this character’s goodness shines through at the end of the film.
Poe comes to Landor’s cabin and confronts him, seeking the truth. As Landor opens up about his daughter, this conversation unfolds:
Poe: Why did you never tell me?
Landor: It’s not a story I enjoy telling.
Poe: But I would have comforted you. Helped you as you helped me.
If only Landor would have gone to his dear friend, the whole disaster could have been avoided. Landor chose isolation; he chose to grieve alone and that drove him to carry out terrible atrocities. Sadness can make us feel alone, isolated, and like we have no other options. I wonder how Landor’s life could have been different if he trusted his friend.
The most powerful scene of the movie comes next, and it’s the scene that makes the film worth watching. In the moment Poe discovers he’s been betrayed, as the waves of anger and hurt wash over him, it is completely just of him to turn Landor in. But instead he forgives. He extends something Landor couldn’t: forgiveness and mercy. Landor isn’t expecting this for he has hardened himself to the ways of light and life. He weeps as he struggles to fathom Poe’s faithfulness to their friendship. In this act, Poe gives Landor a chance at redemption, a chance to change. The film ends open-ended, bestowing a glimmer of hope in a movie where there is much death and seemingly little hope of the resurrection.
This film reminds us that death is unavoidable and can leave us in despair if there is no hope for the resurrection. Jesus offers this hope to us just as He offers it to Landor with Poe as His instrument. Pain, death, and suffering without the hope of eternal life leaves us empty and grasping for anything to make the hurt a little less; in this movie, revenge, killing, dark magic. But in light of the resurrection, we can stand firm in the face of pain, death, and suffering; knowing that one day it will be replaced with perfect joy, endless graces and complete happiness.
Disclaimer: For the gentle souls, like myself, it might be worth fast forwarding through some parts.
This article was originally published HERE.
Cooper, Scott, director. The Pale Blue Eye. Cross Creek Pictures, 2022.