“Once upon a time it was believed that when a person dies, the raven takes his soul to the land of the dead. But sometimes something so bad happens that the deceased takes away with him a terrible sadness and his soul cannot find peace. And sometimes, very rarely, a raven can bring this soul back so that it can fix everything.“- this is how the cult film” The Raven “of 1994 begins, and with it the heartbreaking story of love and revenge.
“The Raven” tells the story of a couple in love: Shelley Webster and Eric Draven, who are planning to get married on Halloween, but the terrible tragedy that happened on the eve of the holiday does not allow their bright plans to come true.
On October 30, Devil’s Night, in Detroit, Sergeant Albrecht arrives at the scene of the crime, where he discovers the raped and brutally beaten Shelley Webster and the body of her fiancé, Eric Draven, who died from gunshot and knife wounds. Eric’s body was thrown out of the window by unknown persons. Shelley herself soon dies.
A year later, on the same day, a black raven circles over Eric’s grave, announcing the awakening of the avenger. Draven rises to find the murderers who killed him and his fiancée, and to repay the scoundrels.
A gripping drama that makes you empathize from start to finish. However, not everyone knows that this film was based on the comic strip of the same name by American artist James O’Barr.
The story originated from the author’s feeling of guilt towards his beloved, who died in an accident. It’s simple, but that’s why it’s sad that any of us can find ourselves in this situation.
1978, as a teenager, eighteen-year-old James led a carefree life and, like all young people, treated some things with frivolity and disdain. The young man did not pay for his car insurance, and the local police were well aware of this. Not wanting to pay “another fine”, James asked his girlfriend and future bride to pick him up, and she answered with consent.
As it turns out later, this became one of the key moments of the upcoming tragedy, a series of decisions, which finally leads to a certain result … in this case, to death. At that moment, when the girl went to the car, she was hit by a drunk driver. She died on the spot, leaving behind many pleasant memories and a feeling of boundless regret. As is often the case, O’Barr began to blame himself for what happened.
If he paid for the insurance … if he called a couple of minutes later … if he told her: “See you tomorrow.” There are so many “ifs” and only one “but” – what has been done cannot be corrected.
So James O’Barr took up paper and ink, sincerely hoping that creativity and work would take him out of the vicious circle of all-consuming pain and self-flagellation. Three years after the death of his bride, James will create his “Crow” – a graphic novel with a poignant and deep story about life and death, revenge and passion, a truly unforgettable story, and even the greatest declaration of love.
For seven long years, O’Barr’s novel lay in the desk until he found his publisher in 1989, which was Gary Reed of Caliber Press, an independent publishing company that just saw the light of day that same year. When the graphic novel finally hit stores, it immediately became a bestseller – since then it has sold over 750,000 copies of The Crow worldwide.
And how I would like the death of O’Barr’s bride to be enough for the Raven to soar on his mighty black wings and reveal himself to the world, but the messenger of death demanded more …
The general popularity of “The Crow” attracted the attention of workers in the film industry, and soon, on February 1, 1993, the filming of the adaptation of the graphic novel began. The film was adapted by David J. Shaw and John Shirley and directed by Alex Proyas. But the main “feature” of the film was the participation of Brandon Lee, the son of the famous Hollywood actor Bruce Lee.
Another starting point for another tragic ending. The shooting of “The Crow” was accompanied by events that left the imprint of a gloomy omen and evil doom on the picture.
In the process of making the film, the film group was constantly faced with many unpleasant events, which many would later call mystical, or even call it a curse: expensive equipment was damaged by a hurricane, working personnel every now and then gets various kinds of injuries on the job site – one – severe burns, the other seriously injured his hand, a journalist covering the film got into a car accident, the designer went crazy, and instead of a blank cartridge, there was a combat cartridge in the barrel of a pistol …
The culmination of the devilry was the tragedy that occurred on the 50th day of the 54 planned shooting days: on March 31, 1993, Brandon Lee was killed while shooting one of the scenes in the film.
Lee needed to star in a scene in which his character Eric was to be shot after he witnessed the beating and rape of his fiancée. Michael Massy’s character Fanboy shoots Lee with a Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum revolver as he enters the room.
Rather than buying commercial dummies of cartridges, due to lack of time, the film’s props decided to create their own cartridges, pulling bullets from live cartridges, emptying a powder charge, and then re-inserting the bullets. In the fateful scene where the revolver was supposed to fire at Lee from 12-15 feet away, the dummy cartridges were replaced with blanks, which contained a live powder charge and a primer, but lacked a bullet, which would eventually allow shooting without risk.
But an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances dealt another blow. Since the manufacturing company sent the firearms specialist home ahead of time, responsibility for the firearms was shifted to an assistant prop, who was unaware that the firearms needed to be inspected before and after use. Therefore, the barrel was not tested when it came time to load it with blanks. The plug stuck in the barrel flew out of the barrel when fired with a blank cartridge, which became tantamount to a shot of a real bullet. She stabbed Li in the stomach, the bullet lodged in the spine, causing extensive blood loss. Brandon collapsed to the ground, bleeding, and shooting in the meantime went on as usual. The film crew did not immediately understand what had happened, meanwhile, the minutes inevitably elapsed, which, with the proper response, could have been salutary for the actor.
Realizing that something was wrong, the film crew began to provide assistance, and Brandon was taken to the hospital “New Hannover Regional Medical Center”. For twelve and a half hours, the actor struggled with death, but failed: Brandon Lee died on March 31, 1993 at 13:03. His fiancée was by his side when the actor was pronounced dead.
On that memorable day for many, Brandon mentioned his upcoming wedding with one of the most adorable girls in Hollywood – film editor Eliza Hutton, whom he met back in 1990. Their wedding was to take place in Mexico City on April 17, 1993, just after filming for The Crow ended.
The actor was buried next to his father’s grave in Seattle, in Lake View Cemetery, in a place that Linda, his mother, originally reserved for herself.
After Brandon’s death, Lee Proyas and his producers decided against all odds to complete the film. For this, the script was partially rewritten, and an understudy was also invited to shoot the remaining scenes, which used the latest computer technology to digitally superimpose Lee’s face on the head of his doppelganger.
Filmed footage of Brandon’s murder was destroyed without development.
“The Raven” was released on May 11, 1994 and won critics around the world, and also brought the creators a huge box office success.
The popularity of the film subsequently led to the emergence of a media franchise, which includes three sequels and a television series. However, they have never been able to match the success of the original film.
All the money received from the film, James O’Barr spent on charity. After the death of Brandon Lee, a new wound and old self-loathing with many “ifs” were born in his soul – if I had not written this novel! – and one single “but”. Lee’s fiancée Eliza Hutton will help her to forgive herself and cope with Brandon’s death.
The emotions and messages embedded in the Raven were most accurately described by James’ friend, John Burgin, in his introduction to the graphic novel:
“The day will come – and you will lose everything that you had. Nothing will prepare you for this day. No faith … no religion … nothing. When the one you love dies, you will know emptiness … you will know what complete, boundless loneliness is. You will never forget and never forgive. Lonely people rarely speak as sincerely and sincerely as James O’Barr – and therefore learn at least this Raven lesson: think about what you can lose.“.
And it’s hard to disagree with these words, because O’Barr’s The Raven teaches us to value life and love until death and even more.