One of the cadets of the most prestigious military academy in the early years of the United States is found hanged and his heart has been removed from his body. A renown detective is asked to investigate the case and searching for clues, he finds a young cadet named Edgar Allan Poe who has his own theories about the murder. Who is the killer? Are more murders on the way? What would Edgar Allan Poe would find at the end? Who are the victims and who are the victimizers?
Netflix new original movie The Pale Blue Eye is a slow-burning thriller mixing drama, family secrets, macabre murders and of course, Christian Bale. But, without further ado, we we’ll take a closer look into The Pale Blue Eye – specially the ending. Let’s start now!
1 ^ Is the Academy Crimes based on a true story?
Although the story takes place in a real place, such as the West Point Military Academy, in New York, and includes the presence of cadet Edgar Allan Poe in 1830, which was also a checked fact, The Pale Blue Eye is not based on a true story. In fact, detective Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) is a totally fictional character invented by writer Louis Bayard.
Of course, the film is based on the homonymous book by Louis Bayard that makes a fictitious recapitulation of the permanence of the famous American writer Edgar Allan Poe in the military academy, incorporating an invented explanation of some of his poems and stories. Including the writer’s thematic relationship with death.
2 ^ Who is killed in The Pale Blue Eye?
During the film, two cadets are assassinated: the first, cadet Leroy Fry, who appears hanged, and heartless. And later, cadet Randolph Ballinger appears, under the same circumstances. The mystery of the first part of the film revolves around the death of Leroy Fry, and why he was killed. And in the second part the mystery is further developed, when a second cadet appears dead.
3 ^ Why was Augustus Landor hired to investigate the murders? What does Edgar Allan Poe have to do with these murders?
Augustus Landor (Christian Bale) was a renowned detective, famed for solving several high-profile murders in the East Coast area of the United States. Now, when a cadet from the United States’ most prestigious military academy is found dead, the heads of the Academy turned to Landor in hopes that he could quickly solve the mystery and restore the institution’s pristine prestige.
Now, when Landor began to investigate the academy, he found that Edgar Allan Poe (Harry Melling), one of his cadets, had a privileged position: 1) he had known the victim, 2) he knew the main suspects, his classmates in the academy, and 3) he was an intelligent and insightful subject, but at the same time innocent and impressionable. So Landor decided to bring him in as an assistant in his research.
4 ^ Who is the killer in The Pale Blue Eye? Who killed Leroy Fry and Randolph Ballinger?
The killer in The Academy Murders is Augustus Landor himself. The point is that Mattie – Landor’s teenage daughter – had committed suicide months before, unable to live with the shame and stain of having been raped by three guys, one night on the way back to her house. Although Mattie could see that there were three men, she could not identify them, except for a medal that she managed to wrest from one of the rapists.
To avoid embarrassment over the memory of his deceased daughter, Landor went for the first rapist he had identified: Leroy Fry. Landor faked a scene of an alleged suicide, to avoid suspicion, and attacked Fry, unable to extract the names of the other two rapists. For Landor it would have been the end of his plan, except for the fact that someone later ripped out the heart of Fry’s corpse and sought him out to investigate the murder he himself committed.
From there, Landor not only revealed the details that verified that Fry had been murdered, but also sought to identify the people who stole the heart, to blame them for the fact. With the investigation ongoing, Landor obtained Fry’s journal, which helped him identify the second rapist: Randolph Ballinger. To associate the deaths with a satanic cult, Landor slaughtered several animals and removed their hearts; later doing the same job with Ballinger, from whom he extracted the name of the third rapist: Cadet Stoddard.
5 ^ Did Landor kill Stoddard?
Although Landor told Edgar that he had not killed Stoddard, and that he only expected him to run for the rest of his life, it is most likely that he did indeed kill him. The person who claimed that Stoddard had fled, since he did not find his clothes in his room, was Landor himself, and we already know that he has the ample capacity to lie without any problem, specially related to the rapists of his daughter. Landor simply lied to Edgar because he wanted to prevent the young man from accusing him and ending up in jail.
6 ^ What’s the meaning of the final scene of the movie? Did Landor commit suicide?
The strongest evidence that Landor did murder Stoddard is that at the end, on the precipice where his daughter committed suicide, he let go of the lace on her dress, ending his revenge. And the fact that he didn’t confess to Edgar, and that he had occasional relationships with Patsy, indicates that although he was hurt, he wasn’t affected to the level of wanting to end his life. He wanted justice and he got it, now it was time to move on. It would be interesting to see a sequel to this movie, with Landor investigating new murders.
7 ^ And what did the Marquis Family – Lea, Artemus, Daniel and Julia – have to do with these murders?
Oddly enough, the Marquis did not murder anyone during the course of the movie. If they are guilty of anything, it is desecration of corpses and the attempted murder of Edgar Allan Poe.
Lea (Lucy Boynton) was pursued by several of her brother’s friends, including Fry and Ballinger. In fact, it was Fry’s interest in Lea that Landor took advantage of to lure him to the place where he murdered him, forging a note on her part. Upon seeing Fry’s hanged corpse, Artemus (Harry Lawtey) and Lea, with the help of Julia (Gillian Anderson), removed the cadet’s heart and saved it for a specific ritual, in order to cure Lea’s epilepsy.
In fact, Doctor Marquis (Toby Jones), had diagnosed his daughter, and had tried every possible treatment to cure her, without any success. So when Lea claimed to have contacted Henri Leclerc, her great-great-grandfather, and pointed out the existence of the Discours du Diable, a treatise on demonic rites, and actually began to feel better by sacrificing animals, he decided to just turn a blind eye. and let his wife and kids do whatever to help her.
With Fry’s heart, the only thing missing was a human sacrifice, someone who sincerely loved Lea, and the one was Edgar Allan Poe. Had it not been for Landor’s intervention, the Marquis would have murdered Edgar.
8 ^ What happened to the Marquis Family?
Lea and Artemus died in the fire that Lea accidentally started when the ritual was interrupted by Landor. Justice determined that Julia and Daniel had enough punishment with the death of their two children and that public ridicule would be enough for them. In the end, the murders of Fry and Ballinger ended up being charged to Lea and Artemus, who, being dead, could not refute any of the above. And finally Julia was unaware of everything that her two children had done in their entirety to achieve her purpose, so she couldn’t refute either.
9 ^ What does the original title of the film mean? What is the message of The Pale Blue Eye?
Down, Down, Down
Came the hot threshing flurry
Ill at heart, I beseeched to hurry
«Lenore» She forebore the reply
Endless night caught her then in its slurry
Shrouding all, but her pale blue eye
Darkest night, black with hell
Leaving only that deathly blue eye
The title of the film refers to this poem, which is completely fictional, and which appears in the book as well. The pale blue eye, in the poem, refers to the moon, the only flimsy hope in the midst of a fierce storm. Edgar assumed that Lea needed help, and that he could be that pale blue eye. And Lea took it literally, choosing Edgar as her final sacrifice.
In the book, Landor is depicted as a man with cold, piercing blue eyes, but in the movie that is not the case, as Christian Bale has hazel brown eyes. Now, if there is any message that this film has, it is that having the willingness to go to the last consequences to achieve a goal has precisely that: consequences. Landor risked his career, and his reputation, on the will of Edgar Allan Poe, to get revenge on the rapists of his daughter. The Marquis Family lost everything, wanting to pact with the devil for Lea’s health. And Edgar was about to lose his life, for trying to get Lea’s love.
Although having an objective and a goal in life is important, obsession, not leaving the past behind, and wanting to go against what logic indicates, always brings disastrous consequences, which even lead to losing control of your own destiny.
Questions? Annotations? More doubts? The comments section is open just below this post so feel free to use it. See you in the next installment of Ending Explained here at El Sabanero X.