The persistent interest in detective stories can only be compared with the viewer’s love for comedies, but only successful ones, with a worthy script.
So, in front of us is a well-tailored and tightly sewn detective. Until the very end, it is impossible to understand who brewed this mess, seasoned with the occult, ancient legends, half-decayed manuscripts, myths and magic. But as we move towards the finale, it becomes clear that there is nothing like this in the plot. No devilry and mysticism. Quite an ordinary, even everyday story. Something similar was described by Agatha Christie in one of her novels, a good mini-series “Murders at a Family Evening” was filmed based on the book.
1830s. Strange, frightening and tragic events take place at the West Point Academy, where future officers for the American army are trained. One by one, the cadets die, and later someone cuts out their heart from their chest.
The authorities, fearing publicity, are in a hurry to figure out what happened before the press, the high command and the president find out about everything. Then the mentors will be called to account (they overlooked, did not follow, did not save). An experienced detective who lives nearby in Bathing Falls, who recently retired from the police, was urgently called. The gloomy, reclusive Augustus Lander reluctantly agrees to help.
The hermit has not communicated with anyone since his only daughter left home in an unknown direction, probably with a stray gentleman. The investigator examines the body of Leroy Fry, who was hung from a tree in the park, and notices a number of important circumstances that for some reason were not recorded during the initial examination: a dent on the head received from a blow with a heavy blunt object, and a crumpled note clutched in the dead man’s hand. True, only a scrap is available, but the text can be restored. Why was Dr. Marquis filling out the protocols so carelessly, given his reputation as an excellent specialist and scrupulous person? Will explain later.
There are interrogations of fellow students of the deceased young man. Not everyone wants to be frank, many keep silent. But gradually the circle of suspects narrows.
180 degree turn
Conventionally, the film can be divided into two unequal parts. The former takes up about three-quarters of screen time. Professor Pepe gives the details of a medieval witch hunt, in some way echoing recent events. These data will later form the basis of the preliminary indictment. Everything is clear, thorough, logical, convincing. But the remaining quarter of the film brings a surprise: the characters change roles, everything that happened appears in a different light.
Several days pass, and a new attempt is made, no less shocking and cruel. Again, the heart was taken out of the still warm body. This time the trouble happened to the cadet Radcliffe Bellenger. Victim number three, scheduled for reprisal, realizes that they will soon come for her, and prudently leaves the alma mater at night. A healthy decision.
The name of a certain lady pops up, with whom the sentenced Leroy agreed to meet late at night at the pier. The local beauty Leia has aristocratic manners, a chiseled, slightly nervous face and a wandering look. It turns out that the doctor’s daughter suffers from mental illness from an early age. Despite all efforts, procedures and consultations with the luminaries of science, the disease progresses.
A desperate practitioner and natural scientist is ready to turn to higher powers, gurus, monks, sorcerers, exorcists, shamans – to anyone, just to heal the unfortunate child. Someone advises trying an unusual and effective method: to perform a magical ritual using the heart of an unbaptized baby or an adult hangman. Very opportunely, a cadet who is deeply in love turns up. Surprisingly, after the ceremony, the patient has a sharp remission: she looks healthy, reasonable, as if she regained her mind. The family is hopeful. Another donor appears. This is the recently killed Bellenger. His comrade Julian Stodard, on the eve of the inevitable denouement, flees from the barracks, then from the city.
The apotheosis of phantasmagoria: the beauty herself chooses the victim. Lander is excited, preoccupied. It is necessary to stop overplayed healers. Naive, eccentric Po is saved from the slaughter. It becomes clear what specifically pushed the law-abiding doctor in a white coat, designed to help the suffering, to such a terrible step.
The film narrative goes slowly, consistently, there is no doubt that the crime has been solved. But the final phase comes, and everything turns upside down, or rather, it acquires the greatest reliability.
The unmasking of the real killer takes place in silence, relentlessly and spectacularly. There are no questions. The murderer’s motivation is also understandable. The name of the film, both in Russian and in English, does not correspond to the plot at all (“Pale blue eye” – what is it about?). The painting should have been titled “The Reckless Love of Fathers for Their Children.” Moreover, two worldly dramas are unfolding before us at once. In one case, a girl moved by her mind gradually turns into a plant.
Parents and brother bitterly state this. In another, Matilda is torn to pieces by rakes who have had fun with the girl, as with a doll. Without bearing the shame and resentment, in front of her beloved dad, she rushes off a cliff into the abyss. The detective figured out the names of the rapists and dealt with them without waiting for the trial. At random, the corpses were needed to perform “witchcraft” manipulations, and the blame was placed on the medical family. But the player did not take into account one thing: how attentive, insightful and smart his voluntary assistant is, the poet.
Why was the evidence destroyed?
Burning papers in the flame of candles that can send Lander to the scaffold, Edgar, on behalf of society, forgives the inconsolable father, recognizes his innocence, and expresses sympathy. At least two conclusions follow from this mise-en-scene:
- Lynching is good if the state has withdrawn from its direct duties and is not looking for the guilty.
- To shift the blame on others is bad, not worthy of a man and a person. No matter how strong feelings and thirst for revenge overwhelm you, you can’t “set up” strangers, hide behind other people’s backs.
Augustus awaits the decision of his fate from the righteous and receives an indulgence. Not everyone will agree with this conclusion, but the authors are sure that the outcome is natural. Evil is punished. Only the third participant escaped the verdict. He “will live in fear for the rest of his life,” the avenger is sure. Alas, hardly. Rogues are incorrigible.
A small note: could the tragedy have been prevented? A lonely young lady should not walk along the dark alley of the park, the alley, the cutting area, the deaf more often. Why didn’t anyone meet her, didn’t see her from a party, a ball, a picnic? To give birth, to feed, to shoe, to educate is not enough. We must save.
“The Pale Blue Eye” ending explained
It is not clear to many: the main character stands on the top of a rock in the place where his daughter ended her earthly journey, with a white ribbon, which she will let go of in a minute. Subtitles are up. What happened next: jumped or stayed alive?
We assure you: the character did not do anything to himself. The phrase “Rest in peace” confirms the final farewell to Matty. A stone has been removed from the soul, because the girl has been avenged. If there was a desire to commit suicide, then completely different words would be heard, for example: “I’m coming to you.”
The file is completed, numbered and stitched, sent to the archive. It turned out to be boring and not tiring. The director, cameraman, actors are great. Viewers are waiting for new mysterious, paradoxical and invariably fascinating crime stories.