"A Life of Death"
Directed by Tim Burton
Written by John Logan
Original Score by Danny Elfman
Art Direction by Peter Young and Dante Ferretti
Costume Design by Colleen Atwood and Donna O’Neal
Johnny Depp- Edgar Allan Poe
Helena Bonham Carter- Eliza Poe/Maria Clemm
Ewan McGregor- David Poe
Jeffrey Jones- John Allan
Maggie Smith- Frances Allan
Laura Michelle Kelly- Virginia Clemm
Christian Coulson- Young Edgar Allan Poe
Tagline: "How can one live when all there is around them is death?"
Synopsis: Death. It seemed to be the only thing that ever happened in poor Edgar Allan Poe’s life. Whether it was with his caring mother or his loving wife Virginia, death always ruined what was good in his life.
Tuberculosis. It was the disease that no woman in Edgar’s life could ever escape.
First it was his mother, Eliza, who died early on in his life. Living a life in the theater, both his mother and his father, David, were madly in love and audiences were madly in love with them. Suddenly, and for unexplained reasons, Edgar’s father abandoned the family. Eliza continued to perform all around the country with Edgar continuing on with her. But, after a year of traveling on the road, Eliza came down with the disease Edgar would later call The Red Death. He was a mere 5 years old when death separated him from his mother.
After his mother’s death, Edgar was transported to the home of John and Frances Allan. After living 10 years with the couple, Edgar still felt a sense that this would never be his home, despite Frances’ maternal ways of raising him. Even so, it shocked him greatly to learn that she had succumbed to Tuberculosis. While Mr. Allan had never been the most respectful gentleman, it disgusted Edgar that John would carry on affairs while his wife was bedridden. After confronting John about his affairs, Edgar was shipped off to the University of Virginia. By the time he was 20, Edgar had had 2 mothers who died of Tuberculosis and 2 fathers who neglected him, and it was because of this that he would turn to a darker style of writing.
Shortly after unenrolling from University of Virginia, Edgar arrived at the home of his aunt Maria Clemm and her daughter, Virginia. After many years of courtship, he would soon be living in the house as Virginia’s husband. Despite the happiness that had occurred during his time at their household, he still wrote in a sinister manner. It was throughout his time at their abode that some of his most successful tales were written including The Fall of the House of Usher and The Tell- Tale Heart. During one of Virginia’s and his many nights sitting at the piano and singing, Virginia started to cough up blood. Through the time of his wife’s illness, Poe would write his most successful poem, The Raven. After very little celebration of his success, Virginia died.
Alcohol. It was what Edgar turned too after he was never able to find the happiness that he was always looking for and the cause of his mental breakdown. One October day he was found barely conscious in the streets of Baltimore and was taken to a nearby hospital where he would go to meet the ones who had left him in the gloomy world he lived in.
What the Press would say:
Inspired by the life of Edgar Allan Poe, A Life of Death, as it is so tastefully named, is a film for the ages. Directed by the always wonderful Tim Burton, the film is definitely his crowning achievement. Like all his other films, it has a clear look and feel, but unlike many of his other films, it is deeply emotional and has no boring parts. Burton has again assembled many of his usual crew members, however he energized them in such a way that he has never done before, because all of them have surpassed the previous brilliance. There is no better example than the remarkable Johnny Depp who delivers a groundbreaking and marvelous performance as demented writer Edgar Allan Poe. While many of his past performances have been creepy and fantastic, none quite match up to his recent achievement that will finally earn him his much deserved Oscar. Newcomer, Laura Michelle Kelly gives a marvelous performance as Poe’s main love interest, Virginia. Her death scene is especially painful and it really proves that she is an actress who is here to stay. Helena Bonham Carter is superb playing the roles of both Poe’s mother and his aunt. One of the best things about her performance(s) is that there is a clear difference between the two characters. She really shines in a cast of fantastic performers. Jeffrey Jones is superior in his scene stealing role as Mr. Allan; he gave a tremendous performance that shouldn’t be ignored. If he is overlooked yet again for a splendid supporting performance, it will be disgusting. Veteran actress Maggie Smith has possibly the most heartbreaking death in the entire movie and she gives her finest performance to date. It’s not a very showy role, but hopefully her status in Hollywood will help her gain the awards attention she deserves. The final standout in the film is Christian Coulson who gives an incredible performance as the younger Poe. It is very surprising that he has not gotten more work considering that he is such a great actor.
Finally, I have to mention the first-rate script crafted by expert writer, John Logan. One of the highest scripts in quality I’ve seen produced in a while. My god, it is fantastic, the lines are so well written it is will be a crime that needs to be taken to the supreme court if it is ignored at the Academy Awards this year. Overall, if you decide not to buy a ticket to A Life of Death, you are crazier than Poe himself.
Best Director- Tim Burton
Best Actor- Johnny Depp
Best Actress- Laura Michelle Kelly
Best Supporting Actor- Christian Coulson
Best Supporting Actor- Jeffrey Jones
Best Supporting Actress- Helena Bonham Carter
Best Supporting Actress- Maggie Smith
Best Original Screenplay
Best Costume Design
Best Art Direction
Best Original Score