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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

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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