Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Comparing "The Tell-Tale Heart"
In “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Edgar Allen Poe describes a twisted and intriguing narrator. This short story has been recreated into several short films, including one we watched in class created by Stephanie Sinclaire. Although Sinclaire creatively reconstructs this short story into a film, there are inconsistencies that exist between the film and the short story.
The film begins differently than the short story, with the narrator standing in a jail cell. As his hands and feet are shackled to the cell, he begins by claiming, “I can’t recall how the idea entered my mind” (The Tell-Tale Heart). This is different than that of the short story; however, the jail scene in the film serves as a perfect transition into the rest of Sinclaire’s portrayal of Poe’s story. From the jail cell, the next scene immediately shows the old man with the vulture eye. The eye looks almost exactly as the narrator in the short story describes it; however, it does not appear to be “pale blue” (Poe 1). Instead, the man’s eye is appears completely white. Despite this difference in portrayal, the narrator’s use of various direct quotes from the story serves the film in a positive way. For example, he explains, “I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him” (Poe 1). From here, the film progresses rather quickly, unlike the short story. This is evident in the way the narrator in the short story explains creeping into the old man’s room, compared to the way it was portrayed in the film.
In the story, the narrator describes the seven nights that led up to the eighth night of the killing in a detailed manner. On the eighth night, the narrator states that he “finally felt the extent of [his] own powers” (Poe 1). The process of entering the old man’s room seemed to be tedious; as the narrator in the story states, “for a whole hour I did not move a muscle” (Poe 1). However, in the film the narrator abruptly walks inside and stands over the old man. This is one specific part that I feel hinders the film. If this scene in the film were more similar to the story, the suspense would have had more time to build and the story would have been more exciting.
Another difference between the story and the film is how the narrator uses of the lantern. In the story, the narrator explains how he “resolved to open a little—a very, very little crevice in the lantern” that “fell upon the vulture’s eye” (Poe 2). In the film, the narrator holds the lantern close to the old man’s face; he does not seem to dwell on the old man’s eye as much as the narrator does in the story. Another difference between the film and the story is how the narrator kills the old man, and how he disposes of the body.
In the story, the narrator makes it clear that he “pulled the heavy bed over [the old man]” to end his life (Poe 2). After this, the narrator “placed [his] hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead…[and] would trouble me no more” (Poe 2). In the film, the narrator simply jumps on top of the old man and strangles him to death with his hands. Instead of feeling the man’s heart afterward, the film shows the narrator disposing of the man’s body. In the story, the narrator “dismembered the corpse” (Poe 2). But in the movie, the narrator buried the body in one piece. These scenes comprise significant differences between the story and the film.
The importance of these changes between the film and the story is that the film lacks complete development. If the plot of the film were more developed, and if it had followed the story, it would have been more interesting and accurate.
Poe, Edgar A. “The Tell-Tale Heart.” 1843. 1-3. Print.
The Tell-Tale Heart. Dir. Stephanie Sinclaire. Dragonfly Films Ltd and Silk Road Productions,