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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

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekov's book will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.





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