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S31 Ep8

Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive

Premiere: 10/30/2017 | 00:03:05 |

Discover the real story of the notorious author, starring Denis O’Hare as Edgar Allan Poe. This new documentary explores the misrepresentations of Poe and reveals how he tapped into what it means to be human in a modern and sometimes frightening world. Narrated by Kathleen Turner.

About the Episode

After his death, writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) became a global icon of modern literature and a pop culture brand. Best known for his Gothic horror tales and narrative poem “The Raven,” Poe’s stories are the basis of countless films and TV episodes, and have inspired even more, as has his name and image. At least four American cities claim this literary legend as their own – Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia and New York: an NFL football team is named after one of his poems, and his image appears on everything from the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover to lunchboxes, bobbleheads and socks. Creating the detective fiction genre with “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841), Poe wrote over 100 short stories and poems altogether, beginning with Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), his first published work.

Written and directed by Eric Stange (The War That Made America, American Experience: Murder at Harvard), the documentary Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive draws on the rich palette of Poe’s evocative imagery and sharply drawn plots to tell the real story of the notorious author.

Starring Tony Award-winning and Emmy-nominated actor Denis O’Hare (This Is Us, American Horror Story, Take Me Out) and narrated by Oscar- and Tony-nominated, two-time Golden Globe-winner Kathleen Turner, Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive explores the misrepresentations of Poe as a drug-addled madman akin to the narrators of his horror stories.

This caricature is thanks, in large part, to a high-profile obituary filled with falsehoods, written by his literary rival Rufus W. Griswold. Determined to re-invent American literature, Poe was an influential – and brutally honest – literary critic and magazine editor, who also invented the detective protagonist with his character C. Auguste Dupin, refined the science fiction genre and popularized short stories, actually writing more comedies than horror.

An orphan in search of family, love and literary fame, Poe struggled with alcoholism and was also a product of early 19th century American urban life: depressed from the era’s culture of death due to the high mortality rate and the struggles of living in poverty. Poe famously died under mysterious circumstances and his cause of death remains unknown.

“The mystery around Poe’s death is the least of it,” said filmmaker Eric Stange. “The real question at the heart of this film is why Edgar Allan Poe continues to be one of the most popular writers in the history of Western literature – and one of the most misunderstood.”

Filmed in Boston Harbor’s historic Fort Independence at Castle Island, Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive combines dramatized re-enactments with O’Hare of key moments in Poe’s life, readings from Poe’s works by O’Hare, Oscar-nominated actor Chris Sarandon (The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Princess Bride, Dog Day Afternoon) and actor Ben Schnetzer (Snowden, Goat, Pride) and interviews with authors including Marilynne Robinson (Gilead), Matthew Pearl (The Poe Shadow), Jeffrey Meyers (Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy) and Zach Dundas (The Great Detective), director Roger Corman (Poe film cycle including House of Usher) and others to reveal how Poe tapped into what it means to be human in a modern and sometimes frightening world.

“America loves creepy horror stories, and there is a good reason why Poe is still taught in every high school – he is just the all-time master. Best of all, now the series has its own spooky Halloween episode,” said Michael Kantor, American Masters series executive producer.

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"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."
PRODUCTION CREDITS

Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive is a production of Spy Pond Productions in association with the Center for Independent Documentary and THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC’s American Masters for WNET. Eric Stange is writer and director. Jennifer Pearce is producer and Leigh Lanocha is associate producer. Susan Jaffe Tane is executive producer. Denis O’Hare is Edgar Allan Poe. Kathleen Turner is narrator with staged readings by Chris Sarandon and Ben Schnetzer. Peter Rhodes is editor. Boyd Estus is director of photography with music by John Kusiak. Michael Kantor is American Masters series executive producer.

About American Masters
Launched in 1986 on PBS, American Masters has earned 28 Emmy Awards — including 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 14 Peabodys, an Oscar, three Grammys, two Producers Guild Awards, and many other honors. To further explore the lives and works of masters past and present, American Masters offers streaming video of select films, outtakes, filmmaker interviews, the podcast American Masters: Creative Spark, educational resources, digital original series and more. The series is a production of The WNET Group.

American Masters is available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.

About The WNET Group
The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the community-supported home of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider; and newsroom NJ Spotlight News. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than five million viewers each month. The WNET Group’s award-winning productions include signature PBS series Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend and Amanpour and Company and trusted local news programs MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi. Inspiring curiosity and nurturing dreams, The WNET Group’s award-winning Kids’ Media and Education team produces the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase, interactive Mission US history games, and resources for families, teachers and caregivers. A leading nonprofit public media producer for nearly 60 years, The WNET Group presents and distributes content that fosters lifelong learning, including multiplatform initiatives addressing poverty, jobs, economic opportunity, social justice, understanding and the environment. Through Passport, station members can stream new and archival programming anytime, anywhere. The WNET Group represents the best in public media. Join us.

UNDERWRITING

Major support for Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional support for this film is provided in part by National Endowment for the Arts, Joy Fishman, and Wallace S Wilson.

Support for American Masters is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AARP, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Rosalind P. Walter Foundation, Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judith & Burton Resnick, Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Lillian Goldman Programming Endowment, Vital Projects Fund, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, Koo and Patricia Yuen and public television viewers.

TRANSCRIPT

True, nervous - very very dreadfully nervous - I have been, and am, but why will you say that I am mad? The narrator grabs you right in the first sentence - something like, 'Mad? You think I am mad? You know, people say I'm mad - I'm not mad.' And then he's clearly mad, and yet he's telling you this story that's mad and sane at the same time. Poe is talking about the subject that makes it so universally interesting. Except for sex, you can't get anything more human and fundamental than fear. Poe wanted Americans to understand what was strange about their own culture. He saw that strangeness - the strangeness that most people didn't see.

I scribble all day and read all night so long as the disease endures.

I intended to put up with nothing I can put down.

To be appreciated, you must be read. Most of the people that Poe loved died of consumption. It is the sad tragedy of human existence in nineteenth-century city. How melancholy an existence. Once Upon a midnight dreary while I pondered weak and weary over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore... in C. Auguste Dupin, Poe invents the detective that we've been living with ever since.

Holmes is a rip off of Dupin and so is pretty much everybody else - so is Hercule Poirot, so is House, on television.

It seems very strange that a man like Edgar Allan Poe could just vanish but that's exactly what happened for about five days. Who was the real Edgar Allan Poe? I feel like he slips further away from me the more I know about him.

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