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 shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it was–but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasureable, because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me–upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain–upon the bleak walls–upon the vacant eye-like windows–upon a few rank sedges–and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees–with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller upon opium–the bitter lapse into everyday life–the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart [...]
-Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher (1839)
Who hasn’t heard of Poe, but well I haven’t really read or enjoyed any of his works til I heard it being read in the closing scene of Detachment. In the scene, Brody read this short story to his students with his deep calming voice combined with the somewhat charming uninterestingly thin lips and crooked nose. I must say it was a very well-done closing scene (although a bit dramatic). And it’s what he said to his students that’s really been floating in my mind til this very second: “so as we read we can see that the House of Usher is not merely an old decrepit castle and disrepair. It’s also a state of being.”
It’s how one feels beauty in the ruins of bleaked walls and decayed trees, even to a higher point than mere beauty, of the combination of terror and sensation, which is the sublime. The beauty of his detached-hollow-depressed self, the beauty that art produces out of the chaotic world and failed parenthood, and the beauty of the movie itself as a form of entertainment (that some might find less or least entertaining).