The Pale Blue Eye on Netflix may not be based on a true story, but it still strives for accuracy when it comes to recreating the real-life setting for this fictional tale. Based on Louis Bayard’s 2003 novel of the same name, The Pale Blue Eye stars Christian Bale as a seasoned 19th-century detective named Augustus Landor who teams up with a young and eager Edgar Allan Poe (played by Harry Melling) to investigate a series of murders at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.
For what it’s worth, the real Edgar Allan Poe really did attend West Point, briefly, before he went on to become a worldwide famous poet and author. That said, he never helped solve any murder mysteries. But writer/director Scott Cooper still wanted to recreate a world as accurately as possible to the one the real Poe once inhabited. Finding the right location for the production was key. In an interview in the film press notes, producer John Lesher said, “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.”
Read on to get all the info on where The Pale Blue Eye was filmed.
What is the year and setting of The Pale Blue Eye?
The Pale Blue Eye takes place in 1830 at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, which is a military college in upstate New York. But while The Pale Blue Eye did film on location, it did not film at the actual West Point. Read on to learn more about The Pale Blue Eye filming locations.
Where was The Pale Blue Eye filmed?
The Pale Bale Eye was filmed in various locations in southwestern Pennsylvania in December and January 2021. According to the press notes for the film, the undeveloped area and state parks surrounding Pittsburgh were used as a stand-in for the actual West Point, which is located in upstate New York.
In an interview for the press notes, producer John Lesher explained, “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.”
For the exterior of the military academy, the production team filmed at Westminster College, a small liberal arts school that was founded in 1852. Hartwood Acres Park in Pittsburgh was also used for the exteriors. Many of the interior sets were filmed at Old Economy Village, a community founded during the 1820s by a break-off sect of the Lutheran Church and now preserved by the state.
As for Detective Landor’s modest home, that was filmed at Davis Hollow Cabin, another historical site. Many of the ice houses and taverns around the area had been standing since the late 18th Century and hadn’t been significantly altered, making them perfect locations for the period piece. Finally, a Gothic Revival mansion that had been built for the attorney of industrialist Henry Frick, which still had its original layout on the first floor, was used for the interior and exterior of the Marquis’s residence.
Visual effects were used to make all of the locations look more period-appropriate to the real West Point. In an interview the press notes, visual effects supervisor Jake Braver said, “Westminster College was one of the main locations for the primary hall, while the artillery barracks was another location and the academy gates and entrance to West Point were yet another location. The CG West Point was made up of all the locations we filmed in and assembled in a layout that was pretty true to the campus circa 1830. It even included both sides of the Hudson River Valley. This allowed us to shoot at one location and add elements from another to seamlessly integrate the various locations into one cohesive environment.”
So there you have it! With a little bit of CGI and a lot of historic locations, the great city of Pittsburgh can be transformed int 19th-century Upstate New York.