following is the original film treatment for ANNABEL LEE. Many of the
details changed over the course of production, but the concepts remained.
It was the first step of the long creative process that became Edgar
A. Poe's ANNABEL LEE.
A lament of lost love--but the love is not truly lost, only the corporal
nature of it. One man stands against the world and all of the angels
of Heaven and the demons of Hell. He treasures the love that he shared
with a woman long lost to this world. His love did not die with her,
though. It is the only thing that he has to hold onto in the surreal,
horrifying dreamscape that his puppet-self wanders through.
Fractured images appear, as past, present and future blur into only
existence--indistinguishable from the reality of the living world. His
puppet-self appears as an old, paint-cracked European marionette, controlled
by black cords from above.
To Poe, the world has lost the beauty and splendor that is glimpsed
in vague recollections from his happy past--a past inhabited by himself
and the beautiful doll-like Annabel Lee. Now, the splendid "kingdom
by the sea" is a gloomy Gothic/Baroque waterfront town. Morbid architecture,
cobble-stoned paths and decaying structures all lead up to what is now
the tomb of Annabel Lee--a half sunken cathedral/lighthouse that lies
amongst the twisted piers at the murky water's edge.
Her family, seen as a monstrous conglomerate of hooded pallbearers,
removes her body to entomb it, stealing her from Poe's beautiful shrine.
The angels that sent death to claim her continue to torment Poe, as
do the demons from deep under the sea.
Poe sees them as half glimpsed mecho-organic terrors and Boschian phantasms.
Automata toys disassembled, burnt, cut away and fused with bone...gears
exposed and turning in their maniacal frenzy as they haunt Poe as he
makes his way to the tomb of his love at the city's edge.
His puppet-self endures the agony of being separate from his love, in
the company of monsters. His only solace is in the fond memories of
her--alive, and together with him. These thoughts are his only shield
against terrors that he is targeted with. But he will endure it all...just
to be with her again.
Nearly there, he succumbs. The realization that he is merely a puppet--the
plaything of the damned--strikes a shattering blow. He follows the path
of his marionette cords up from the hooks in his frame and sees that
they are eerily suspended in mid-air by an unseen force like an Indian
rope trick. Perhaps it's doubt-- a loss of faith for something unseen.
Was he wrong about the power of Love in a world so cruel? His support
tethers break away as a cruel angel cuts the strings on a miniature
version of Puppet-Poe.
Dead Puppet-Poe looks up in eyeless agony as he falls to the ground
in a crumpled heap just outside the tomb door.
A cloud passes, revealing a bright full moon that brings back one last
pleasurable memory of Poe and Annabel Lee embracing, framed by the full
moon of long ago. This literal ray of hope is enough for Poe to drag
the wasted shell of his puppet-self into the Cathedral/Tomb of his love.
A dreadful and filthy charnel house that hides her beauty in a rusted
sarcophagus greets him, but he knows what beauty lies under the ugly
As he pries her lid open, an ethereal and radiant essence flows out,
transforming the world into the splendor that once was, as their souls
are reunited in Love forever. The two embrace in a world of light and
flowers to last all eternity...
copyright George Higham, 1998