When and Where Does The Pale Blue Eye Take Place?

Image Credit: Scott Garfield/Netflix

Directed by Scott Cooper, Netflix’s historical film ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ revolves around Detective Augustus Landor, who arrives at the United States Military Academy to investigate the murder of a cadet named Leroy Fry. Landor seeks the help of a young cadet and published poet named Edgar Allan Poe to solve the murder, only to get startled by encountering the death of another cadet named Randolph Ballinger. The murder mystery film progresses through Landor and Poe’s efforts to unravel the mystery behind the murders, which affects their relationship as well. Since the film is a period drama, we have found out when and where it is set. Let us share the answer! SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Pale Blue Eye is Set in 1830

‘The Pale Blue Eye’ is set in the year 1830. The film, like its eponymous source novel by Louis Bayard, takes place when Edgar Allen Poe is a cadet at the United States Military Academy. In real life, Poe matriculated as a cadet at the Academy in 1830, which makes the year the suitable setting for the film. In addition, director Scott Cooper wanted his film to explore Poe’s early years as a poet. “I wanted to tell a formative Poe story, where he is warm and witty and prone to poetic and romantic fantasy, and someone we’re not accustomed to seeing on the screen,” Cooper told Deadline.

Image Credit: Scott Garfield/Netflix

In the film, Poe struggles as a poet since his obligations as a cadet come in between the poet in himself and his creativity. Still, the period played a vital role in forming and polishing the writer Poe. “Of course, this is a work of fiction. What I’m saying is:  these events that occur in our film shaped his worldview and helped him become the writer that he became –– with the recurring themes that deal with the questions of death, and the effects of decomposition and reanimation of the dead and mourning –– all those things that are considered part of his dark romanticism,” Cooper told Tudum, explaining the significance of Poe’s period in the Academy.

Since Bayard couldn’t find many resources concerning Poe’s life in the 1830s, during his stay at the Academy, the author had to rely heavily on fiction. “The only records that exist are the court-martial records. The rest of it just had to be filled in,” Bayard said in the same Tudum interview.

The Pale Blue Eye Takes Place at the United States Military Academy

The lion’s share of ‘The Pale Blue Eye’ takes place in the United States Military Academy, located in West Point, in the state of New York. Several accompanying scenes are set in regions that form the Hudson River Valley. Since Fry and Ballinger’s death happen in and around the region where the Academy is located, Landor and Poe’s investigation mostly revolves around the establishment. The film also opens a fictionalized window to Poe’s life at the New York-based Academy.

Image Credit: Scott Garfield/Netflix

“It was very clear that [Poe’s] romantic and poetic notions were not a good fit for West Point life,” Cooper added to Tudum. The conflicts Poe confronts as a poet in a military establishment form a significant part of the character. The Hudson River Valley’s vastness and beauty also enhance the tone of the film and the mysteries Landor and Poe attempt to unravel. Although the film is set in the Hudson Valley, the Scott Cooper directorial was reportedly filmed in different locations in the state of Pennsylvania.

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