Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —
Only this and nothing more.”
This was the poem that started it all. In January of 1845, American writer Edgar Allan Poe published his narrative poem, The Raven. The physical embodiment of the Raven has remained an eerie manifestation referenced in writing, film, television, and comics ever since. For this reason, it deservingly sits at #16 on the Grizzly Bomb Countdown to Halloween.
I love looking at the different depictions of the Raven over the past 167 years because it shows how truly open any art form is to interpretation. I have found the film adaptations to be some of the most interesting. For those familiar with Bela Lugosi in 1935’s The Raven, the film is presented more as an obsession with Poe than actual elements of the original poem. The Pit and the Pendulum was more apparent than anything else. In 1963, the Vincent Price film of the same title follows a bit closer to the original poem, but is still a very loose adaptation.
In the recent 2012 John Cusack film of the same title, a murderer is committing crimes in line with several classic Poe tales. Poe himself is portrayed by Cusack is tapped to catch the killer. So why name it The Raven? I don’t know, but it just comes to show that the term, “The Raven” will spark intrigue. It’s interesting that one of the truest adaptations to date would be the Simpsons episode Treehouse of Horror in which Homer reenacts the poem up to the last two lines of the 17th stanza. Darth Vader himself James Earl Jones voices all narrative portions, and Homer acts out all spoken verse. Simply exquisite.