Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Wanda Howard, Henry B. Walthall
Director: Charles J. Brabin
Directed By Charles Brabin. Screenplay By Charles J. Brabin. Based On The Play The Raven: The Love Story of Edgar Allan Poe By George C. Hazelton And The Play By Edgar Allen Poe. Starring: Henry B. Walthall, Ernest M... more »
Early Example of Cinematic Magic and Illusion.
Mark R. Garner | New Orleans, LA USA | 09/29/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'The Raven' was produced in 1915 by the now-defunct Essanay Studios and stars Henry B. Walthall as Poe.
The basic premise of the story is the short, troubled and downright surreal life of Edgar Allan Poe. The film itself has several appealing qualities and it is a nice introductory piece for someone studying the early days of American cinema. Sadly the print used for this 2007 release is somewhat degraded to a point where under certain lighting the faces and other small details are washed out. This is but a small glitch and the number of 'plusses' in this film make the 'minuses' nothing to be concerned about.
Specifics about Poe's early life are only briefly addressed but we do learn that he was a romantic and given to living life like an English rock guitarist in the 1970's. The bizarre night which inspired his epic; 'The Raven' is given a suitably bizarre rendering. The death of his beloved Virginia is also touched upon. Because the camera work is typical 1915, the emotional quality of the film's "grammar" is lacking due to the paucity of close up shots but anyone versed in the early silent films can follow the action with little difficulty.
The absolute apex of this movie and a prime selling point is the very creative employment of double exposures to effect some of Poe's uh, 'visions' and his inner torment. The wonder of the early days was the abilty to create illusion, which is what the movies are all about. Before CGI, special effects were undertaken in several ways including double exposures, which were a tricky "inside-the-camera" effect that required considerable skill and forethought to pull off effectively.
To a student of the silent era this film is a must. The acting isn't too ridiculous given the over-expressive pantomime in vogue at the time.
Sadly this release, by TELEVISTA, has no bonus features. The film itself is barely forty minutes but I don't feel cheated at all. There is another DVD release, 'The Death of Poe' (Alpha Video) which includes 'The Raven' and a revisiting of 'The Tell-Tale Heart' as bonus materials but I cannot vouch for the quality of their edition."