Only Lovers Left Alive
When the entertainment industry gets a hold of a theme that is popular with the public, they are like a dog with a bone. They bite into it, shake it and chew it until there’s almost nothing left. The latest themes to receive such intense focus by both film and television are vampires. These creatures of the night have been feasting on the blood of humans, at least as vehicles for popular entertainment since the early 1930s. Back then they were terrible monsters displacing us as the planets apex predators. That was until a decade or so ago vampires and their fellow creature feature stars, the werewolves,retrofitted to romantic teen idols. Thankfully that has been the number of filmmakers and their counterparts on television, decided was about time to return the monstrous qualities to these creatures. Understandably the student met with mixed results but one of the more interesting I have ever come up for us is under consideration here; ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’.
Not only is it one of the most imaginative takes vampires that I’ve seen in quite a long time but there is such a commitment to quality on both sides of the camera that this entire film is infused in the ground up with a level of craftsmanship rarely seen, particularly in this particular genre. Any fans of various vampire franchises available the first thing that must be done is to establish a set that defines the strengths and weaknesses of the supernatural beings. It is a matter that the attributes defined natural law, fans demand that there be a consistency in a given fictional world. In one a vanquished vampire they crumble into ash one another they make listed in the sunlight. The vast discrepancy in these details perceived by some as keeping the archetype fresh while others use it as a rallying point for heated discussion. One characteristic that is among the most pervasive is the mortality. Surviving on human blood and nocturnal terror can exist for centuries or even millennia. The persist discounts generations of their source of nourishment past through their ephemeral lives.
It was considered something wonderful and rare that my late wife and I were married for 34 years of the vampire couple Adam (Tom Hiddleston) and Eve (Tilda Swinton) such a period of time with scarcely be considered a honeymoon. They are vampires who have been married for centuries. As the film opens the couple is living in a world apart, geographically literal sense. He resides in a Victorian mansion located in Detroit, having a lute in a room packed with the accumulation of untold years of collection. Meanwhile, Eve, Reagan’s degree to new evening in Tangiers, her room filled with books. It appears that they have come to the conclusion that the real danger of exposure and ultimately termination come from indiscriminate hunting of humanity for food. Fortunately technology has made some advances in most large human cities blood is routinely stored and fitted for impurities. With so many blood-borne diseases vampires such as Adam and Eve do their best to avoid the poisoning of a contaminated environment by obtaining the ‘good stuff’, pure blood which is the equivalent to organic food for the discerning vampire. Like an addict who was dealt with their addiction long time both of these vampires have established the means to obtain the purest form of what they require. Adam under the guise of Dr. Faust obtains his provisions for contacting the blood bank, Dr. Watson (Jeffrey Wright). Employing a different methodology with identical goals, Eve relies upon a very old friend, Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who was one of the foremost playwrights and scholars of the Elizabethan era. As far as the large was concerned he died in 1593, the subterfuge perpetrated by himself. Personally Marlowe relies upon the protection of a young human man. Although adverse to daylight, this sensitivity to light demands the use of sunglasses at nighttime. In today’s culture this is something that hardly stands out, particularly among the intellectual and artistically obsessed segment of our society that they tend to associate with.
Adam and Eve have spent the long centuries of their existence serving as Muses inspiring great accomplishments in the arts and sciences. Adam ‘s inclinations lie in music as demonstrated by a collection of valuable antique guitars and his predilection for listening to music on vinyl records which are procured for him by a dealer of such things to his kind, Ian (Anton Yelchin). Considering the extremely short life expectancy vampires pejorative term for humans is ‘zombies’, the walking dead. The old adage that opposites attract certainly true with this couple married in the 19th century. While Adam is a sullen recluse, Eve embraces the world around enjoying the great collection of literature she has accumulated, playing on iPhone and becoming immersed in the rich culture of Tangiers. Adam spends much of his time recording music on a four track studio in his home, saddened by the realization that none of his oeuvre ever be appreciated by anyone else. This only exacerbates the sadness he feels remembering the period of his long life but he was an exceptionally popular rock musician with a cult following. Despite existing so far apart the couple is still very much in love. Eve decides that it is about time to drop in on husband. In a frenzy of packing Eve culls the best of extensive literary collection prepare for her trip to the United States. There is tenderness to the reunion that will lull you will away from the knowledge of the deadly nature. At the long postponed intimacy the couple takes a drive amused by a discussion with his long served to be the mutual bond their love; literature, art and music. Such a discussion is more meaningful to them than any others are not only of the lived some of the most creative times humanity has ever experienced, but in many cases they provided the creative spark that ignited the genius the men responsible for them. Although Adam and Eve are thousands of miles apart they are telepathically linked so strongly that distance means little to the relationship. From the vantage point of an immortal couple years or decades physically apart has less impact on them that a spouse leaving on a business trip.
The reunion is spoiled by the appearance of yet another vampire, Eve’s younger sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska). Unlike Eve could accept the necessary restrictions as a necessary aspect of the longevity but Ava is the perennial party girl; uninhibited wireless willing to sate on hunger with anything less and the warm blood flowing from the open neck of her prey. But Ava suddenly intrudes upon the reunion it appears that her sole purpose is to annoy and instigate. A principled way of achieving this goal is calling them out on their own snobbery concerning humanity. The use of the term zombie was devised by Adam resulting from his contempt what our species has done to this planet. What the two of them are able to help some individuals to achieve greatness the overwhelming majority of mankind do little more than infest this planet.
My chief complaint for the modernization of vampires and werewolves is how they have removed the horror from their archetypes. Having grown up on the Universal Studios creature features I was still belief that the monsters in these movies should be scary not have their names drawn within hearts by dreamy eyed teenage girls. This movie does not return vampires to horror but, all the same manages to accomplish a far more difficult cinematically insightful achievement. I have seen several vehicles for vampires touch upon the psychological turmoil and emotional toll that is taken by immortality. So often humans agreed to be the sycophant for vampires and hope being rewarded with eternal life. Adam and Eve demonstrate a far different vantage point for such longevity. A vampire movie can be excited, thrilling or even regrettably romantic but the director/writer of this piece of cinematic craftsmanship, Jim Jarmusch, has imbued his work with a sense of lethargy. I have been a fan of his for quite some years and in several cases been able to see how he is taking a short story expertly expanded into a full. To me this demonstrates equality in this filmmaker that very few seem to manifest; exceptional care preparation. As someone who was trained in the sciences I was always taught before major endeavor to do a proof of concept. Mr. Jarmusch boldly took this step by first visiting a story as a short film. Ties his works together that ties this works together is this fascination with how an individual perceives the world around him. In some cases such as ‘Broken Flowers’ or ‘Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai’, he focuses on individual with inherently different vantage points in the audience would be used to. This provided him with a platform to look at the normal trials and tribulations of life most unusual set of eyes.
A film such as this reminds you that film is a valid means of artistic expression, no less the novel painting or sculpture. Just as literature can run the gamut trashy pulp mystery read on the beach to a novel great impact and importance, likewise movies can be a source of pure escapism entertainment or something that incites you to ponder the greater essence of life. This movie is definitely an example of the latter. These vampires all refined, intellectual beings over the centuries have found a way to avoid having to hunt and kill humans in order to feed. For them such longevity is truly a two-sided coin. It allows more than enough time to study and learn, gaining expertise in a plethora of fields. It also means facing a potentially endless stream of years gradually turning into decades and centuries. Adam and Eve have accomplished much in their long lives inspired others to greatness as well. They are tired and bored have subjugated their predatory instincts overcoming them with an adroit intellect. This movie is so beautifully filmed with amazing cinematography by Yorick Le Saux. Apparently, the disdain for more modern techniques and artistic endeavors that was demonstrated by Adam is directly from personal preferences held by Mr. Jarmusch. As an advocate of actual film the disdain for digital photography. With an estimated budget of only $7 million was financially forced to use an Arri Alexa photography system. Working with his cinematographer they achieved a suitable look and feel of the warmer colors attributed to actual film to the magnificent control of lighting and subsequent digital manipulations. They have managed to capture within this film a rich color palette variety of textures that often thought possible digital media. This is the type of movies that you do not watch; you sit there opening your senses committing yourself to fully experience the artistry of its creator.