The Pale Blue Eye, based on the novel by Louis Bayard of the same name, is the latest murder mystery movie to hit Netflix. Set in 1830, it stars Christian Bale as a detective who teams up with a young Edgar Allan Poe (played by Harry Melling) to investigate a murder at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. While the film is not based on a true story, it does play on some reality (yes, Poe did briefly attend West Point before becoming a renowned poet). But instead of upstate New York, the drama was filmed in Pennsylvania. Ahead, learn all about the filming locations that made the film’s eerie, 19th-century environment possible.
Where Was The Pale Blue Eye Filmed?
“Whenever you’re making a film, especially a period film, you know you want to try to get as many details of that real world correct as possible,” producer John Lesher said in a press brief. “We took full advantage of winter in western Pennsylvania. Between the snow, cold and fog, the area is naturally Gothic, blue-black, and mysterious. The location helped our brilliant production designer, Stefania Cella, bring the world of The Pale Blue Eye to life.”
Westminster College, a small liberal arts school in New Wilmington, plays the exterior of the military academy in the film. Founded in 1852, the college features architecture that was built close to the period in which the film is set and has remained relatively unchanged since. Visual effects were used to make the layout of the campus better resemble the way it looked circa 1830.
Davis Hollow Cabin—a historical site that allows for visitors and even overnight stays during a certain period of the year—plays detective Landor’s home. A Gothic Revival home called Hartwood Acres Mansion, which had been built for the attorney of industrialist Henry Frick, serves as the interior and exterior (with some visual effects tweaks!) of the Marquis residence. “It was dressed to reflect the creepiness of the family who lived there,” set decorator Jane Madden said in a press brief. “We sourced some strange art, including a few unsettling portraits, and a painting that featured a cadaver in mid-dissection.”
Many of the film's interior scenes were filmed at Old Economy Village, a community founded in the 1820s. Other scenes were shot in Hartwood Acres Park and at some ice houses and taverns in the state that had been standing since the late 18th century.
So while the film wasn't actually shot in New York, historic spots in Pennsylvania (plus impressive movie magic) make a pretty convincing case. And if you're especially into filming locations that are old and have the potential to look spooky, make sure to read up on the spots featured in other popular productions like Wednesday and The Watcher.
You love filming locations. So do we. Let’s obsess over them together.
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