The Fall of the House of Usher

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

In the low-budget Roger Corman film from 1960, known in the United States as House of Usher starring Vincent Price as Roderick Usher, the narrator is Philip Winthrop (Mark Damon), who had fallen in love with the sickly Madeline (Myrna Fahey) during her brief residence in Boston and become engaged to her. As Roderick reveals, the Usher family has a history of evil and cruelty so great that he and Madeline pledged in their youth never to have children and to allow their family to die with them. Winthrop tries desperately to convince Madeline to leave with him in spite of Roderick's disapproval, and is on the point of succeeding when Madeline falls into a deathlike catalepsy; her brother (who knows that she is still alive) convinces Winthrop that she is dead and rushes to have her placed in the family crypt. When she wakes up, Madeline goes insane from being buried alive and breaks free. She confronts her brother and begins throttling him to death. Suddenly the house, already aflame due to fallen coals from the fire, begins to collapse, and Winthrop flees as Roderick is killed by Madeline and both she and the Ushers' sole servant are consumed by the falling house. The film was Corman's first in a series of eight films inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

A devout fan of the works of Poe, cult director Curtis Harrington tackled the story in his first and last films. Casting himself in dual roles as Roderick and Madeline Usher in both versions, Harrington shot his original 10 minute silent short on 8mm in 1942,[19] and he shot a new 36 minute version simply titled Usher on 35mm[19] in 2000 which he intended to utilize in a longer Poe anthology film that never came to fruition.[20] Both versions were included on the 2013 DVD/Blu-ray release "Curtis Harrington: The Short Film Collection."

In 1980 the Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan Švankmajer adapted the story as a short film relying entirely on imagery and inanimate objects in place of actors.

List of films

  • La Chute de la maison Usher (France, 1928) by Jean Epstein
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (US, 1928) by James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (US, 1942) by Curtis Harrington
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (UK, 1950) by Ivan Barnett, starring Gwen Watford[21]
  • House of Usher (a.k.a. Fall of the House of Usher and The Mysterious House of Usher) (1960) by Roger Corman with Vincent Price
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (1966) (TV) with Denholm Elliott and Susannah York. episode part of the UK ITV series Mystery and Imagination
  • "Histoires extraordinaires: La chute de la maison Usher" (1981) (TV) with Mathieu Carrière
  • The Fall of the House of Usher, a.k.a. Revenge in the House of Usher (1982) (TV) with Robert Hays, Martin Landau, Dimitra Arliss, Ray Walston, and Charlene Tilton[22]
  • Zánik domu Usherů (The Fall of the House of Usher) (1982) (animated version by Jan Švankmajer)
  • El hundimiento de la Casa Usher' (1983) by Jesús Franco with Howard Vernon
  • The House of Usher (1989) with Oliver Reed
  • Usher (US, 2000) by Curtis Harrington
  • The Fall of the Louse of Usher (2002) by Ken Russell
  • Usher (2004) by Robert Leatherwood
  • The House of Usher (2006)
  • House of Usher (2008) by David DeCoteau
  • La Chute de la maison Usher (Russia, 2010)
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (2012), an animated short film

Music

Between 1908 and 1917, French composer Claude Debussy worked on an opera called La chute de la maison Usher. The libretto was his own, based on Poe, and the work was to be a companion piece to another short opera (Le diable dans le beffroi) based on Poe's "The Devil in the Belfry". At Debussy's death the work was unfinished, however. In recent years completions have been attempted by two different musicologists.

"Lady Eleanor", a song first released in 1970 by the British folk rock band Lindisfarne, is based on this story.

The Alan Parsons Project's first release (1976's Tales of Mystery and Imagination) features a long instrumental named after this story. The track has five parts: "Prelude", "Arrival", "Intermezzo", "Pavane" and "Fall", and its style showcases 20th-century classical music and progressive rock. The music incorporates fragments of Debussy's unfinished opera.

Another operatic version, composed by Philip Glass in 1987 with a libretto by Arthur Yorinks, was presented by the Nashville Opera in 2009.[23] The Long Beach Opera mounted a version of this work in February 2013 at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, Los Angeles.[24]

Peter Hammill composed an opera based on the story between 1973 and 1991 and released it in 1991. In this work, the house itself becomes a vocal part, to be sung by the same performer who sings the role of Roderick Usher. The libretto by Chris Judge Smith adopts the subplot of a romantic attraction between Madeline Usher and the narrator, who is given the name Montresor. Hammill released a totally overhauled version in 1999, without drums but with an added violin and layers of electric guitar that created an orchestral sound. He also resang all of his own vocals.

In 1984 Russian composer Nikita Koshkin composed a programmatic, solo classical guitar work entitled "The Usher Waltz". The piece is often included in concert programmes and has been recorded by numerous guitarists, including John Williams.

Brazilian gothic rock band Cabine C has a short instrumental piece named "A Queda do Solar de Usher" (which is Portuguese for "The Fall of the House of Usher") in their 1986 album Fósforos de Oxford.

In 2006, as part of Titania Medien's Gruselkabinett series, Marc Gruppe adapted the story into a radio drama starring Tobias Kluckert as Roderick and Oliver Feld as Philipp.

In 2008, a musical theatre adaptation ("Usher") written by two Yale students (Sarah Hirsch and Molly Fox) won the Best Musical award at the New York International Fringe Festival.[25][26][27] The musical, since renamed "The Fall of the House of Usher", subsequently won the Pallas Theatre Collective's submission contest in 2013 and will run in Washington DC in 2014.[28][29]


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