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The title of The Pale Blue Eye is a nod to one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works

January 12, 2023

*WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Pale Blue Eye*

Edgar Allan Poe has appeared on Netflix a few times recently, including being mentioned in the incredibly popular Wednesday series and now as the main character in the streaming service’s latest film, The Pale Blue Eye.

Starring Harry Melling (Harry Potter’s Dudley Dursley) as the fictional Poe, the famed author and poet joins world-weary detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) to help solve a murder investigation at the military academy in West Point.

There are several confusing aspects to the film’s mystery, but one area that has left fans with questions is the film’s title, with many asking what exactly The Pale Blue Eye means.

  • TRUE STORY? DID EDGAR ALLAN POE REALLY VISIT WEST POINT LIKE IN PALE BLUE EYES?

Pale Blue Eye release date and plot preview

The Pale Blue Eye solemnly landed on Netflix on Friday, January 6, 2023.

Set in West Point, New York, during the dreary winter of 1830, a military cadet named Leroy Fry is found hanged and the discovery that his heart has been expertly removed prompts a murder investigation.

August Landor, a retired alcoholic detective is persuaded to take the case but the code of silence maintained by the West Point cadets prevents any chance of finding the killer.

That’s until Landor crosses paths with an eccentric cadet with an aversion to military protocol and a penchant for poetry, Edgar Allan Poe.

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Christian Bale as Augustus Landor and Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe in The Pale Blue EyeThe Pale Blue Eye © Netflix | Scott Garfield

The film is based on a book of the same name

Before you start asking if Edgar Allan Poe really helped solve a murder case at West Point as seen in The Pale Blue Eye, he didn’t – but that’s the plot of the eponymous novel by American author Louis Bayard on whom the film is based.

Speaking to Netflix’s Tudum, Bayard explained that his novel is filled with Easter eggs and references to much of Poe’s work, “starting with the title itself, which comes from The Tell-Tale Heart,” the author revealed.

In the 1843 short story, the anonymous narrator describes living with and murdering an old man who has a particularly remarkable eye.

“One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture,” the story reads. “A pale blue eye, with a film on it. Every time he fell on me, my blood froze.

Christian Bale as Augustus Landor and Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe in The Pale Blue EyeThe Pale Blue Eye © Netflix | Scott Garfield

What is the meaning of the movie title The Pale Blue Eye?

The Pale Blue Eye references Landor’s daughter, Mathilde, suggesting that she has been at the heart of the matter from the very beginning of the film.

The morning after Leroy Fry’s murder, Poe woke up and began reciting the opening lines of a poem that was about a woman in indescribable distress. To make the situation even scarier, Poe claimed that his long-dead mother dictated to him.

He initially believed the woman in distress to be Lea Marquis, a local girl who is terminally ill and becomes Poe’s sweetheart until the full extent of the affair is revealed.

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Eventually, Poe discovers that the distressed girl was never actually Lea but Landor’s own daughter, Mathilde.

In Bayard’s original novel, according to The Cinemaholic, Poe notices that the first letter of each stanza of the poem states the phrase “Mathilde is deceased.”

Christian Bale as Augustus Landor in The Pale Blue EyeThe Pale Blue Eye © Netflix | Scott Garfield

In an early interaction between Poe and Landor in the film, we learn that Mathilde has disappeared after she supposedly ran away from home.

However, it is revealed in the final act of The Pale Blue Eye that she committed suicide after being raped by three of West Point’s cadets, which is the girl’s indescribable suffering.

Those cadets were Leroy Fry – the first murder victim, Randolph Ballinger – a second cadet who died during the film, and a third cadet named Stoddart who leaves the academy when he realizes the pattern behind the deaths and that he could be next.

Poe deduces that Landor was actually the murderer all along as he wanted revenge for what they had done to his daughter.

He even has evidence to send Landor to the gallows as the handwriting on the note found in Leroy Fry’s hand matched that of a note the detective left for Poe.

However, Poe chose not to return Landor, instead burning the evidence and allowing the detective to leave.

  • FILMING LOCATIONS : WHERE WAS THE PALE BLUE EYE FILMED?
Christian Bale as Augustus Landor and Harry Melling as Edgar Allen Poe in The Pale Blue EyeThe Pale Blue Eye © Netflix | Scott Garfield

The Pale Blue Eye is available to stream now on Netflix after its release on January 6, 2023.

The title of The Pale Blue Eye is a nod to one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most famous works, which first appeared on Juicee News.