Crazy Heart writer-director Scott Cooper joined Deadline’s Contenders: LA3C awards-season event to discuss The Pale Blue Eye, his adaptation of the Louis Bayard novel about a gruesome West Point murder committed while none other than Edgar Allan Poe was a cadet in the military academy.
Cooper teams with Christian Bale for the third time, with Bale playing a world-weary detective summoned when a cadet is found hanged from a tree on the grounds of the academy. It goes from suicide to something else when a telltale heart clue emerges: someone has removed the cadet’s ticker, after he was cut down. The detective meets a particularly sharp cadet named Poe (Harry Melling), and from there, it’s a whodunit with the creator of that genre at the center.
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“Nobody is who they appear to be in this film, and nobody knew that better than Edgar Allan Poe,” Cooper said during the Netflix film’s panel. “After my first time Crazy Heart, my father sent me the novel. Much like Poe, I spent my formative years in Virginia, my father taught literature and English, and he said I’ve read a very clever novel, where Poe is at the center of a detective story. As we know, Poe bequeathed us the detective novel. I thought it was quite dangerous to put Poe at the center of a detective story, and people know Poe for different reasons, someone who was obsessed with the occult and the satanic, tragedy and death, the master of the macabre. I wanted to tell a formative Poe story, where he is warm and witty and prone to poetic and romantic fantasy, and someone we’re not accustomed to seeing on the screen.”
Along with the crime drama, Cooper said what emerges is a father-son story between the detective and the young author. “It has been 10 or 11 years and Christian and I have been talking about this since we did our first film together, Out of the Furnace. … I probably wrote 20 or 30 drafts.”
Check back Wednesday for the panel video.