Zánik domu Usherú (1982) - full transcript

In this animated version of Edgar Allan Poe's story, a traveller arrives at the Usher mansion to find that the sibling inhabitants are living under a mysterious family curse: The brother's senses have become painfully acute, while his sister has become nearly catatonic. As the visitor's stay at the mansion continues, the effects of the curse reach their terrifying climax, and he must choose between his concern for his hosts' safety, and his own.

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His heart is a suspended lute;
as soon as it is touched, it resounds.





Production Assistants


During the whole of a dull, dark
and soundless day in the autumn of the year,

when the clouds hung
oppressively low in the heavens,

I had been passing alone on horseback
through a singularly dreary tract of country

and at length found myself,
as the evening drew on, within view

of the melancholy House of Usher.

There was an iciness,
a sinking, a sickening of the heart,

an unredeemed dreariness of thought
which no goading of the imagination

could torture into aught of the sublime.

What was it... I paused to think.
What was it that so unnerved me

in the contemplation
of the House of Usher?

Yet in this mansi?n of gloom I now proposed
to myself a sojourn of some weeks.

Its proprietor, Roderick Usher,

had been one of my boon
companions in boyhood

but many years had elapsed
since our last meeting.

A letter from him had lately reached me
in a distant part of the country -

a letter which,
in its wildly importunate nature,

had admitted of no other
than a personal reply.

The handwriting gave evidence
of nervous agitation.

The writer spoke
of acute bodily illness,

of a mental disorder
which oppressed him

and of an earnest desire to see me as his best,
and indeed his only, personal friend.

Surely man had never before
so terribly altered in so brief a period

as had Roderick Usher.

It was with difficulty that I could admit
the identity of the wan being before me

with the companion
of my early boyhood.

Yet the character of his face
had been at all times remarkable.

A cadaverousness of complexion,

an eye large and luminous,

a nose of a delicate Hebrew model
but with unusual breadth of nostril,

lips somewhat thin and very pallid
but of a beautiful curve,

a finely moulded chin, speaking, in its want
of prominence, of a want of moral energy,

hair of a more than web-like
softness and tenuity.

These features made up
a countenance not easily to be forgotten.

He entered, at some length,
into the nature of his malady.

It was, he said, a family evil
for which he despaired to find a remedy.

He was enchained
by certain superstitious impressions

which, in the form of his family mansi?n,

by dint of long sufferance,
had obtained over his spirit

an effect which the physique of the grey walls
and the dim tarn into which they looked down

brought about upon
the morale of his existence.

He admitted, although with hesitation,

that the peculiar gloom which afflicted him
could be traced

to a more natural
and far more palpable origin

to the severe and long-continued illness,

to the evidently approaching dissolution
of a tenderly beloved sister.

While he spoke, the lady Madeline,
for so was she called, passed slowly

through a remote portion
of the apartment and disappeared

without having noticed my presence.

For several days ensuing, her name
was unmentioned by either Usher or myself

and during this period I endeavoured
to alleviate the melancholy of my friend.

We painted and read together or I listened
to the wild improvisations of his speaking guitar.

In the greenest of our valleys

By good angels tenanted

Once a fair and stately palace
Radiant palace reared its head

In the monarch Thought s dominion
It stood there!

Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair

Banners yellow glorious golden
on its roof did float and flow

This all this was in the olden
Time long ago

And every gentle air that dallied
in that sweet day

Along the ramparts plumed and pallid
a winged odour went away

Wanderers in that happy valley
through two luminous windows saw

Spirits moving musically
to a lute s well-tuned law

Round about a throne where sitting

In state his glory well befitting
The ruler of the realm was seen

But evil things in robes of sorrow
Assailed the monarch s high estate

Ah let us mourn for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate!

And round about his home the glory
that blushed and bloomed

Is but a dim-remembered story
of the old time entombed

Travellers now within that valley
Through the red-litten windows see

Vast forms that move fantastically
To a discordant melody

While like a rapid ghastly river
Through the pale door

A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh but smile no more

I remember that this ballad
led us into a train of thought

wherein Usher defended his opinion

about the sentience
of all vegetable things.

But, in his disordered fancy, the idea
had assumed a more daring character

and trespassed, under certain conditions,
upon the kingdom of inorganisation.

The belief was connected with the grey stones
of the home of his forefathers.

He imagined the conditions of the sentience
had been fulfilled in the collocation of stones

in the order of their arrangement as well as
that of the many fungi which overspread them

and of the decayed trees
which stood around

in the long undisturbed endurance
of this arrangement

and its reduplication
in the still waters of the tarn.

Its evidence, the evidence of the sentience,
was to be seen,

and I here started as he spoke,

in the condensation of their atmosphere
about the waters and the walls.

The result was discoverable in that silent
yet importunate and terrible influence

which for centuries
had moulded the destinies of his family.

One evening he informed me abruptly
that the lady Madeline was no more.

Some days of bitter grief elapsed

and an observable change came over
the features of the mental disorder of my friend.

His ordinary manner had vanished.

His ordinary occupations
were neglected or forgotten.

He roamed from chamber to chamber
with hurried, unequal, and objectless step.

The pallor of his countenance
had assumed a more ghastly hue

but the luminousness of his eye
had utterly gone out.

I thought his unceasingly agitated mind
was labouring with some oppressive secret,

to divulge which he struggled
for the necessary courage.

I beheld him gazing
upon vacancy for long hours

as if listening
to some imaginary sound.

I felt creeping upon me
by slow yet certain degrees

the influence of his own fantastic
yet impressive superstitions.

I experienced the full power of such feelings
in the night of the seventh or eighth day

after the placing of the lady Madeline
within the donjon.

Sleep came not near my couch
while the hours waned and waned away.

A light step on an adjoining staircase
arrested my attention.

I presently recognised it
as that of Usher.

'And you have not seen it? '
'You have not then seen it? '

He carefully shaded his lamp,
hurried to one of the casements

and threw it freely open to the storm.

'You must not, you shall not behold this!'
Said I shudderingly to Usher

as I led him with a gentle violence
from the window to a seat.

'Here is one of your favourite romances.'

'I will read and you shall listen
and we will pass this terrible night together.'

The antique volume which I had taken up
was The Mad Trist of Sir Launcelot Canning.

I had arrived at that portion of the story
where Ethelred, the hero of the book,

having sought in vain for peaceable admissi?n
into the dwelling of the hermit,

broceeds to make good
a men trance by force

'And Ethelred, who was by nature of a doughty
heart, now having drunk strong wine,

waited no longer
to hold parley with the hermit,

who was of an obstinate
and maliceful turn.

He uplifted his mace outright and, with blows,
made room in the door for his gauntleted hand

and now pulling therewith sturdily,

he so cracked and ripped
and tore all asunder

that the noise of the dry and hollow-sounding
wood reverberated throughout the forest.'

At the termination of this sentence
I started and for a moment paused

because it appeared to me

that from some remote
portion of the mansi?n

there came indistinctly to my ears

what might have been the echo
of the very cracking and ripping sound

Sir Launcelot had
so particularly described.

It was beyond doubt
the coincidence alone

for, amid the rattling of the window frames
and the noises of the increasing storm,

the sound had nothing which
should have interested or disturbed me.

I continued the story.

'As the good champion Ethelred
entered the door,

he was enraged and amazed
to perceive no signal of the maliceful hermit.

In the stead thereof, a dragon
of a scaly and prodigious demeanour

and upon the wall there hung a shield
of shining brass with this legend enwritten!

"Who entereth herein,
a conqueror hath been.

Who slayeth the dragon,
the shield he shall win."

And Ethelred uplifted his mace
and struck upon the head of the dragon

which fell and gave up his pesty breath
with a shriek so horrid and harsh,

Ethelred had fain to close his ears
with his hands against the dreadful noise,

the like whereof
was never before heard.'

Here again I paused abruptly,

now with a feeling of wild amazement,
for there could be no doubt

that I did actually hear a low and
apparently distant but harsh, protracted,

most unusual
screaming or grating sound,

the exact counterpart of
what my fancy had already conjured up

for the dragon's unnatural shriek.

Oppressed, upon this coincidence,
by a thousand conflicting sensations

in which wonder and
extreme terror were predominant,

I still retained sufficient
presence of mind to avoid

exciting the sensitive
nervousness of my companion.

I was by no means certain
that he had noticed the sounds,

although a strange alteration
had now taken place in his demeanour.

From a position fronting my own,

he had brought round his chair
so as to face the door of the chamber

and thus I could but partially
perceive his features,

although I saw that his lips trembled
as if he were murmuring inaudibly.

His head had dropped
upon his breast,

yet I knew that he was not asleep
from the wide and rigid opening of the eye.

The motion of his body
was at variance with this idea

for he rocked from side to side
with a gentle yet constant and uniform sway.

Having rapidly taken notice of all this,

I resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot,
which thus proceeded!

'And now the champion,
having escaped from the dragon's fury,

bethinking himself of the brazen shield,
and of the breaking up of its enchantment,

removed the carcass from out of the way
and approached over the silver pavement

to where the shield was upon the wall,

which in sooth tarried not
for his full coming

but fell down at his feet upon the silver floor
with a mighty, great and terrible ringing sound.'

No sooner had these syllables
passed my lips

than I became aware of a distinct,
hollow, metallic and clangourous,

yet apparently muffled reverberation,

as if a shield of brass had indeed
fallen heavily upon a floor of silver.

Completely unnerved,
I leaped to my feet

but the measured rocking movement
of Usher was undisturbed.

His eyes were bent fixedly before him,
throughout his body reigned stony rigidity.

As I placed my hand upon his shoulder,
his whole person shuddered,

a sickly smile quivered about his lips,
and he spoke

in a low, gibbering murmur
as if unconscious of my presence.

Bending closely over him,

I at length drank in
the hideous import of his words.

'We have put her living in the tomb!

I now tell you that I heard her
first feeble movements in the hollow coffin.

I heard them,

many, many days ago

yet I dared not...

I dared not speak!

And now...



Is she not hurrying
to upbraid me for my haste?


I tell you that she now stands
without the door!'

Lady Madeline remained trembling
and reeling to and fro upon the threshold,

then with a low, moaning cry
fell heavily inward

upon the person of her brother

and in her violent final death agonies,
bore him to the floor a corpse

and a victim to the terrors
he had anticipated.

There was a long, tumultuous shouting sound
like the voice of a thousand waters

and the deep and dank tarn
at my feet closed sullenly and silently

over the fragments
of the House of Usher.