fri 03/04/2020

Edgar Allan Poe: Love, Death and Women, BBC Four | reviews, news & interviews

Edgar Allan Poe: Love, Death and Women, BBC Four

Edgar Allan Poe: Love, Death and Women, BBC Four

A respectable if subdued documentary on the 19th-century Gothic writer

Lucille Sharp as Poe’s 13-year-old first cousin and… er… first wife, Virginia Poe

The recurrent image in this somewhat staid documentary is a monochrome photograph of Poe’s moon of a face with its panda-like eye sockets. Occasionally the camera moves in for a close-up on those eyes - perhaps hoping they’ll reveal something that mere biographical detail doesn’t - but appropriately enough the grim Gothic writer’s eyes are more black holes than windows on the soul, and they give nothing away. The horrors, scandals and tragedies of Poe’s life had to be exhumed from his words, and the words of those who came into his orbit.

The recurrent image in this somewhat staid documentary is a monochrome photograph of Poe’s moon of a face with its panda-like eye sockets. Occasionally the camera moves in for a close-up on those eyes - perhaps hoping they’ll reveal something that mere biographical detail doesn’t - but appropriately enough the grim Gothic writer’s eyes are more black holes than windows on the soul, and they give nothing away. The horrors, scandals and tragedies of Poe’s life had to be exhumed from his words, and the words of those who came into his orbit.

‘Women brought mainly misery, pain and heartache - grist to Poe’s satanic mill.’

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