Life after Death
, 19 Nov 2013
The film's screenplay by the excellent Robert Towne was linked by a series of omens linked to ancient Egypt. Poe too, in his moody reveries, wondered at the nature of death and whether anybody can really die whilst a 'dominant will' can survive.
Having Nicolas Roeg to shoot the film was a positive bonus with sweeping shots across the wide screen to focus on the next possible shock. Verden Fell (Vincent Price) is obsessed with the memory of his 'dead' wife,Ligeia, to the extent that he cannot or will not forget her as she had been 'wilful' and whose 'dominant will' to remain 'alive' affects Fell badly, to the extent that his new wife,Lady Rowena, comes under Ligeia's influence.
The main link with Ligeia is a savage black cat who almost leads Rowena to her doom in a bell tower in the ruined abbey where Fell lived. The cat had already attacked Rowena but will not be captured and destroyed. Fell knew in his heart that Ligeia's spirit existed in the black cat.
Corman successfully juxtaposes an intense,rather wordy script with the necessary action as in the bell tower episode and,near the end of the film, the yowling of the cat together with the banging on Rowena's bedroom door. The frightening circumstances in which Rowena found herself,as Ligeia tried to take her over, is depicted in a dream sequence. Who has the most dominant will?
The last of the Poe/Corman films is probably one of the best because it was not afraid of posing quite challenging motifs about the nature of death. It was very close in spirit to the short story on which it was based about the transmigration of souls and the feeling, like an unhealthy memory, that the strength of the will or 'soul' can exist for eternity. We don't know whether Fell hated or loved Ligeia and this conundrum added yet another frisson to the piece.
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