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Biography - Edgar Allan Poe: The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe (2004)

 NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 6, 2010
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002V7NT8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,903 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

He is the uncontested master of the macabre a genius whose melancholy nature made his own life as tragic as one of his strange tales. Edgar Allan Poe's haunting poems and chilling stories established him as one of the most important men of American letters. But behind his popularity and artistic success was a personal life defined by broken hopes and failure. This extraordinary program tells Poe's complete story from the death of his parents when he was three to his tragic collapse on the street at age 40. Dramatic readings recall the devastation of his broken engagement and the loss of his child bride. And experts explore the bouts of depression and addiction that tormented the man and gave birth to his dark and brilliant art. Take an intimate look at one of literature's most complex and fascinating figures.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Overview of an American Writer May 20, 2006
The legend of Edgar Allan Poe is far from the reality, as we learn in A & E's Biography series documentary of his life. The much misunderstood author is given a fair look in this 50 minute overview. They bring us the sad, broken Poe, stumbling through lectures and readings, but they also show us a good man who loved literature and wanted to succeed as a writer.

Any student of Poe has been inundated with macabre, morbid tales of involving dead women, drug abuse and affairs. What is disregarded by early biographers are the facts between the tales. He crafted stories with careful excellence, depending on technique, and not the lack of sobriety. He drew from his personal life, but also fabricated complex fantasies that became the model for Stephen King, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and others. His poetry caught the attention of European greats like Charles Baudelaire and Mihaly Babits, who, in turn, translated Poe's works for the world.

We see where Poe lived an, and hear not only from his literary works, but his letters and the writings of those who knew him. We are able to attain a sense that Poe was not a monster only brooding in his woes, but a family man who longed to remain with Virginia, who lived with, as he wrote in "Annabel Lee," "no other thought than to love and be loved by me."

The affect of the tragedies which surrounded him are explored, from his poor relationship with his adoptive father to the many deaths of loved ones, lost to tuberculosis. Many men would have been enfeebled to write, but Poe took his sadness and expressed it as literary art.

I fully recommend "Biography - Edgar Allan Poe: The Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe (A&E DVD Archives)." His life has the legendary elements of scandal and addiction, but to know Poe better, it is important to learn beyond the cliches like "master of the macabre." This DVD does that.

Anthony Trendl

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Po' Edgar, or: An American Tragedy January 16, 2010
Hosted by Peter Graves, the 47 minute A&E BIOGRAPHY episode entitled "The Mystery of Edgar Allan Poe" first aired in 1994. In its few re-enactments, Edgar is portrayed by lookalike Norman George.

This fast-moving bio partly depicts Poe's life through antique illustrations, etchings, daguerrotypes and book pages, also from modern drawings. His is an unrelentingly sad story.

Abandoned along with two siblings by his actor father (David), Poe's mother, Elizabeth ("Eliza") supported her family by appearing in stage productions until she contracted tuberculosis and died at age 24. The three orphans were adopted by John and Rosalie Allen. Mr. Allan was a successful merchant, yet he was stingy and cold toward Edgar.

Young Poe was sent by Allan to the University of Virginia, then a new roughhouse school. He was given only enough money for tuition and travel, which meant a life of great privation. With little food and no cash for clothing or heat, 17-year-old Poe began what would be a lifelong drinking habit. He ran up an immense gambling debt and joined the Army to escape it.

While he was away, Poe's adoptive mother also died from consumption. John Allen enrolled Edgar at West Point but then refused to pay expenses, so Poe got himself expelled. Rallying from this low point, he travelled to NYC and published some poetry. Prior to Edgar becoming a newspaper editor at age 26, John Allan died. He left Poe out of his will.

Our story continues with marriage to a 13-year-old cousin, Virginia and creation of the short stories and poetry that Edgar Poe is still remembered for. Tragically, Virginia would also succumb after a lengthy battle with TB. This was the final straw that pushed Edgar over the edge. He binged on alcohol, bounced from city to city, staying with tolerant friends and may have near the end lost his grip on reality. Poe died in a Baltimore hospital ward after a lingering coma. He was a few months short of his 41st birthday.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Biography video - Edgar Allan Poe December 16, 2008
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Well done video that details the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe. My students enjoyed the video and it enhanced our discussion times about Poe and his poetry. I would recommend this video.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for all Poe fans! August 28, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a great video, well-done and informative. Today's young students have a difficult time connecting with the work of the authors who lived "way back then," as they put it.

The students seem to lose the idea that there is a person behind the literary work, a person with specific life experiences that shaped the writing. And that's what makes it hard to connect to the work itself for many of these students.

This video bridges this gap between the person and his work and, thus, between today's students and Edgar Allan Poe. The story of Poe's life told in this biography makes him much more real to the students.

I definitely noticed a positive difference in their interpretation of his work after we saw this film. Their essays became more honest, more sincere, and more engaged with the texts. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Boring but informative December 27, 2012
By Paige
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Educational. Interesting. I liked it, but most people would probably find it boring. If you like Poe and you like documentaries, you'll like this.
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