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Only Lovers Left Alive: a film for real vampires

Only Lovers Left Alive movie poster
Only Lovers Left Alive movie poster
Only Lovers Left Alive movie poster

Only Lovers Left Alive directed by Jarmusch

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One of the most interesting things about the new “Artsy” Vampire film, "Only Lovers Left Alive", by acclaimed writer-director, Jim Jarmusch, was that it had a more psychologically realistic take on the entire Vampire fiction genre. This film assumes that with such a long life most vampires would tend to fight boredom by developing their human skills, such as speed reading, memory, science, art, music, and even already documented psychic abilities, to the extreme. Doesn’t sound very exciting at first does it? On the other hand, it is a much more seductive, and desirable trade for giving up sunlight, normal human contact, and tolerating a severe addiction to something, than anything else I have yet encountered in the fictional genre.

As a result, the vampires in the film, referred to the average humans, as "zombies". This was apparently a comment on the vast disparity between the “zombies” lack of awareness of the beauty and wonder of the natural world and of any real appreciation for the great masters of art and science, at least when compared to these very hip, enlightened vampires. The vampires were definitely addicts who desperately longed for, needed, and got high on blood. Some of them, so consumed with what did interest them at the moment, even exhibited the sort of pathos and depression, as well as neglect of their more human surroundings, such as mowing the lawn, or picking up a cluttered room, or repairing peeling paint, but their abilities in their subjects of interest were so extreme that they could obtain large sums of cash by literally allowing composers, playwrights, scientists etc. to plagiarize their work, for a price naturally, or by selling bits of their accomplishments through subtle agents.

Vampire fans everywhere often complain if one set of vampires is very different from whatever fictional vampire trope they most prefer. Unfortunately setting a strict list of abilities for vampires, while it is essential within a single fictional world, tends to really limit a writer's artistic freedom. When it comes to fiction and story telling, this writer has always preferred the more human super heroes like Batman to the ridiculously overpowered and invincible ones like Superman. With vampires as well, if they are immune to almost everything and have to be caught asleep in daytime to drive a stake of whatever is Kryptonite in that fictional world into him, they become a bit limited as a character. More human qualities, with special agreed upon limitations, contrasted with highly desirable improved abilities, like in this film, can create the most attractive and seductive form of vampire this writer can imagine.

They trade a strong aversion to sunlight, slightly strange looking eyes, and a very troublesome addiction to blood, for extreme long life, mental abilities increased well beyond normal human limits, photographic memory, and immunity to disease, or relatively minor injuries. They cannot, for example, sit on a stack of dynamite, or get shot with anti-armor rounds, or even the most high powered sniper rifles, without suffering permanent destruction. I think that is quite enough. If modern humans did not have very effective means to destroy them, then why would they always be in hiding? They really don't need to throw cars around like the hulk or be totally immune to physical injuries etc. That is just ridiculous overkill and removes any need to be an intelligent thinking being living in a way that makes a serious effort to pretend to be human, if a bit strange in some ways. Strange night loving humans are not all that uncommon these days after all.

They were clearly as different from the average humans they encountered, as the human actors in zombie films are from their, oh so unattractive pursuers, who , lets face, it, are just not very bright, and more than a little obsessed with immediate gratification of appetites. Yes, the vampires had their issues of course, in that they were portrayed as addicts, appropriately, always seeking the "good stuff" and getting rather high on it especially if they over indulge. Those that endured very long though, generally found it much less troublesome to purchase very pure type O negative, and consume it in more modest quantities, than to give themselves over to a maddening feeding frenzy on modern humans whose bodies, and blood, have degraded to the point there is relatively little life force left in most of them. In fact drinking the degraded blood of humans with unhealthy genetic mutations or that had abused their bodies sufficiently was like a poison to them as it undermined the power that had kept them alive for so many centuries, and reversed the youthful effects of a vampire’s greatest power, agelessness. This concept, certainly would make it easier for them to slip unnoticed through our lives as strange Gothic “Bohemian” types, since there would only very rarely be a feeding frenzy of ripped throats, and those that indulged that way, never lasted very long any more.

One of the “zombies” real life person that is, in the theater bathroom, commented that the film was moving way too slow for her. After all, where was the gore, the sex, the terror? Two very intelligent beings, desperately in love, but unhappy with the way most people were destroying the world in gluttonous ways? What sort of horror film is this anyway? The point is, "Only Lovers Left Alive" is more of a very chic romantic comedy than horror. It has a subtle elegance among the pathos, and they can even see the beauty that once was in the burned out shell of a mostly destroyed neighborhood in Detroit, where one was hiding from “the rock and roll kids” that were his underground music fans.

While some people do not find the film exciting enough, those that like the film tend to absolutely love it! People with such a deep affinity for Vampire fiction that they consider themselves an actual part of the “vampire culture” find this to be a direct reflection of how they view the world, and themselves, portrayed on the big screen. This is one of director, Jim Jarmusch’s most touching films, and one of the most quirky at the same time.

Unfortunately setting a strict list of abilities, while it is essential within a single fictional world, tends to really limit a writer's artistic freedom. I agree though, that just as I prefer Batman to Superman in the comics, a vampire that is immune to almost everything and has to be caught asleep in daytime to drive a stake of whatever is Kryptonite in that fictional world into him, is a bit limited as a character. More human qualities, with special agreed upon limitations contrasted with highly desirable improved abilities, like in this film, is the most attractive form of vampire AI personally can imagine. They trade a strong aversion to sunlight, slightly strange looking eyes, and and admitted addiction to blood, that affects them a bit like heroin, for extreme long life, mental abilities increased well beyond normal limits, photographic memory, and immunity to disease, or relatively minor injuries is quite enough. They don't need to throw cars around like the hulk or be totally immune to physical injuries etc. That is just ridiculous overkill and removes any need to be an intelligent thinking being.

As for the zombies, This writer actually believes in the concept of a "zombie apocalypse" being a real possibility. Really. The "zombies"; however, should it actually occur ... again... After all it has so many times before in our history, will undoubtedly to be “brain dead” humans rather than body dead humans, dragging their feet, and moaning about their desire for "brains". Gucci maybe, but not brains.

"Never underestimate how dangerous stupid people can be when gathering in large numbers"