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Netflix’s ‘The Pale Blue Eye’: Was Edgar Allen Poe a cadet at West Point?

The streaming service’s new thriller has left viewers wondering how much of the story is fact, and how much is fiction.

Is Netflix’s ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ based on reality?

Landing on Netflix this month was the murder mystery thriller The Pale Blue Eye, based on the 2003 novel by Louis Baynard. With a storyline including the young Edgar Allen Poe as a cadet on a grisly murder at a US military academy, the film has soared to number two in Netflix’s weekly most streamed.

Christian Bale stars as a world-weary detective called Augustus Landor, who soon runs into a Poe as a young cadet, played by Harry Melling. Poe’s inclusion in the tale as a character has left some viewers wondering, is this a real story?

The answer is no, the story of The Pale Blue Eye is entirely fiction. However the Edgar Allen Poe did attend the West Point Military Academy, the setting for the film. He was kicked out within seven months of his admission to the prestigious school, leaving in January 1831.

Written and directed by Scott Cooper, The Pale Blue Eye is a decidedly dark thriller with a bleak outlook and eerie atmosphere. The cinematography, provided by Masanobu Takayanagi, utilises a pared back greyscale for much of the film, with just the occasion splash of royal blue in the cadets’ uniforms.

Poe is portrayed as something of an outcast in the hyper-masculine world of West Point, where braggadocious behaviour is not only the norm but is actively encouraged.

If you’re looking for something to while away a winter evening this month, The Pale Blue Eye is sure to keep you gripped to the screen and perched at the very edge of your seat.


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