News in Brief: A German Film Crew ‘Encountered Poe’s Shadow’ on Grounds

May 29, 2024 By Alice Berry, Alice Berry,

Earlier this month, a University of Virginia Communications photographer ran into a small film crew from Germany on Grounds, where they were working on a documentary about Edgar Allan Poe.

The documentary crew’s director, Manfred Uhlig, said he felt as if he and his team were going to “encounter the shadow of Poe” while on Grounds.

Though the famed 19th-century writer never earned a degree from the University (his funds dried up and he couldn’t afford tuition), he is believed to have left a literal mark on Grounds. A windowpane from Room 13 on the West Range – said to be the one Poe inhabited – had a fittingly eerie poem etched into it sometime before Poe’s departure.

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Every year, Poe’s room – appointed with furniture appropriate to his time at the University, and a stuffed raven – draws visitors hoping to get a sense of his time as a UVA student. Uhlig and his film crew did just the same, as they are stopping in a number of cities that were important to Poe’s life and literary career.

The whole film crew stands in Poe's room

Director Manfred Uhlig said Poe is a pop cultural figure in Germany. (Photo by Matt Riley, University Communications)

“They have really done a marvelous job to preserve this room and its spirit,” Uhlig said. “And it makes me kind of sad that Poe didn’t have the possibility to finish his studies here … since this seems to be a university of opportunities for everybody now.”

Uhlig chose Poe as his documentary’s subject due to heightened European interest in the United States and Poe’s status as something of a pop culture figure.

The documentary will air in September on the European public TV station Arte. But before that, Uhlig and his crew planned to make a pit stop at the UVA founder Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

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Alice Berry

University News Associate Office of University Communications