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Jarmuschs Vampires in Love

New film offers a look into the intellectual lives of a vampire couple.

Published: April 12, 2014 (Issue # 1805)



  • Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as Adam and Eve in Jim Jarmuschs take on the vampire myth.
    Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

According to Jim Jarmusch, financing his latest film Only Lovers Left Alive was a very difficult process. It took him seven years to raise the money for the project. It seems surprising, given Jarmuschs status as one of the most sought after independent film directors and that each of his works has been destined for success. The directors vampire drama is no exception. The film received its international premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013 and, although it didnt win the Palme dOr, critics around the world unanimously lauded the new masterpiece by the cult director.

Only Lovers Left Alive is Jarmuschs first film based on a love story but it is not without a twist, as might be expected. The two lovers in this case are ancient vampires played by Tom Hiddleston, known for the role of Loki in Thor, and Tilda Swinton, famous for her mystical roles, such as the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia and a fallen angel in Constantine. The attractive vampires are named Adam and Eve and their alliance is a perfect example of a harmonious union of opposites. Adam is a brunette dressed mostly in black, and Eve sports white hair with a penchant for white clothing. He tinkers with old equipment and lives in a dying Detroit. She uses an iPhone and chooses life in the exotic and beautiful city of Tangier. He is a reclusive musician contemplating suicide, while she teaches him to enjoy life. At the same time Adam and Eve share many similarities: They are both outcasts of a kind, bohemians hooked on art and mankinds greatest achievements. As a result, the names of prominent figures from history such as Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and Franz Schubert are heard throughout the film. Not only are they mentioned but the English poet Christopher Marlowe, played by John Hurt, makes an appearance as a vampire as well as the author of works attributed to Shakespeare.

Jarmuschs attention to the canon of vampire cinema is understandable because the director likes to pull apart popular genres and create movies about outsiders. Since their appearance in literature and cinema, vampires have always been strange characters, standing apart from the gray mass of humanity. Of course, over time their appearance has undergone some development. The bloodthirsty aristocrat Count Dracula, famously played by Bela Lugosi, has been gradually humanized and has even given up killing people. Vampires have become disillusioned romantics (Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles), rock stars (Queen of the Damned, Suck), and the drinking of blood, which is originally a symbolic representation of sexual pleasure, began to resemble drug use (The Lost Boys, The Addiction). Jarmusch has used all of these elements from popular cinema mythology. He did not destroy it with unusual interpretations or unexpected additions, but developed the allegory logically, which is, in fact, atypical of his working method. According to Jarmusch, vampires are imaginative people. As a result, they can not be associated with the living dead. The negative role of corpses contaminating blood as well as nature is held by humanity, which Adam and Eve contemptuously call zombies. Jarmusch has repeatedly mentioned his sympathy for marginalized artists and his sad certainty that humanity will soon destroy itself in interviews. So Only Lovers Left Alive offers a metaphorical portrayal of the directors vision.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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