The Dark Knight star Christian Bale will come to Netflix in a feature about acclaimed Gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe in the thriller The Pale Blue Eye. The film sheds insight into the writer’s potential true character, alluding to substance abuse and a hellish persona.
Scott Cooper writes and directs the thriller, adapting from Louis Bayard’s novel. Bale plays Augustus Landor, a detective hired to investigate one initial death at West Point military academy that leads to more. Accompanying Landor as an ally is the young student Poe, played by Harry Melling, a resourceful and intelligent assistant.
The Pale Blue Eye offers a dark and haunting tone, aligning with Poe’s work, as hearts are torn from the victims’ bodies, and a dark shadow looms over them. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for Poe, you know, the cemetery is a beautiful place,” Bale shares with Consequence about the film’s vision of Poe. “He doesn’t want to look at trees with leaves on — he wants to see them in the dead of winter. He has a very strong personality and a strong viewpoint on art and beauty, and it’s wonderful. And Harry plays him fantastically.”
He adds: “I think some people naturally have faces that can belong in a period piece, in certain periods, and some people have faces that don’t belong in that, and that’s quite intriguing.”
Bale was announced as the film’s star in February 2021, and a month later, it was announced that Netflix had purchased the rights to Cooper’s film for $55 million. Filming began in November of that year, with additional cast members Gillian Anderson, Lucy Boynton, Timothy Spall, Fred Hechinger, and Robert Duvall being announced.
“I know that Scott very much wanted to hear the different actors speak in the language because that’s often a telltale thing, of someone’s vernacular just being way too modern,” the actor reveals about the film’s historical presentation. “Just the tone of it — ah, man, it just sounds modern. But I can’t say I dwell on it particularly. You don’t want to get sucked into making it unrelatable because it’s period, you know. My viewpoint is that people are people then and now. The superficial differences change, but the essence remains the same.”
Cooper has also discussed the thriller’s exposition and handling of Poe’s character and story, specifying how the film explores all the possible traits the author could possess.
“There’s so much information about Poe, but being able to invent these things — that maybe he was charming, maybe he was a bit foolish, maybe he was witty and stupid all at the same time,” the Queen’s Gambit director reveals. “All these little things offer him a bit more range to the Poe that we think we know now, as this more sinister, dark gloomier person.”
Cooper adds: “I think that territory’s a fascinating one, to reinvent this idea of who this Edgar Allen Poe is.”
The Pale Blue Eye is in theatres now and begins streaming on Netflix on Friday, January 6th.
Watch the trailer below.