Most of the vampires have enjoyed some good time at the box-office with those movies with fangs driving hard into the necks of those currency notes. Some of the most mindless vampire franchises have done so well, that one has already gotten $3.345 billion world-wide. The most shocking thing is that the last two movies of that franchise which were the worst, actually managed to earn more than the the rest. It is a strange world, and a change of human perception about the vampires has made sure that this strange, meaningless vampire romance was going to take over to satisfy some audience.
But the question remained if such movies had to be made, and also if such books were to be written with not caring for the vampire essence? Interview with the Vampire maintained the basic vampire essence, and so did Vampire Journals; none of them needed to go into the strange teenage romance. Let Me In had recreated the same so much, and didn’t go down to a childish fantasy. There is a movie which knows how to make a rather beautiful and thought-provoking vampire stuff; something that Twilight had completely missed out, and with its complicated protagonists and complete artistic beauty, that movie is Byzantium.
Byzantium is a less recognized beauty. It is not known that much among even the most regular movie viewers. The reason might be that it never really got a wide release. It comes from Neil Jordan who brought us Interview with the Vampire, and this movie maintains the feelings of that one including alienation, solitude, hopelessness and eternal doubt. The movie begins with these lines “My story can never be told. I write it over and over, wherever we find shelter. I write of what I cannot speak: the truth. I write all I know of it, then I throw the pages to the wind. Maybe the birds can read it”.
In a word which completely takes you into its eerie feeling, Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) and Clara (Gemma Arterton), the mysterious daughter and mother pair is on a never-ending run and finally seems to have somehow settled at the Hotel Byzantium. They have been chased by a group of vampires for around two hundred years. The flashback story goes back to the time of the Napoleonic Wars during which Clara is born. But at Byzantium, it is not just the past that will come to trouble the mother and daughter, as the present will catch up to them to force them in order to make decisions.
We have been forced into the CGI beauty which has often overtaken the beauty of the world and its people, and Byzantium takes you back to it. Saoirse Ronan plays a wandering beauty who carries a burden of melancholy with amazing skills. Four years after City of Ember, she once again brings the audience to a standstill with her performance as the lone vampire youth who never ages. Kirsten Dunst played such a character as a child vampire in Interview with the Vampire, but Eleanor’s troubles go deeper. She has the feelings of not just Claudia from that movie, but also that of Louis de Pointe du Lac.
The one thing we can tell Saoirse Ronan’s character is to stop being so sad, as it basically depresses the viewers and makes them wonder how an immortal beauty can be portrayed with such powerful and abiding sadness. In such a world of no happiness, Gemma Arterton is Clara Webb, charming, seductive and deadly. Traversing between the darkness and the light, or rather dark grey and light grey, she is a character who saves the day in more than one way, and that depiction is rather of a domination that rises above the expectation. As she says “I had eyes that cut through lies, I had lungs that breathed eternity. Felt I’d lived my whole wretched life just to prepare me for that moment“.
Byzantium is a movie which replenished my vampire essence which was taken away by three movies, the completely worthless and shameless one called The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the hopeless one called Twilight and the clueless one called Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters. Byzantium is unbelievably artistic in its presentation, stylish with its environment and brutal with its emotions. It is like a form of art which does justice to the vampire mythology and never boasting about. As it hasn’t been promoted enough, I provide this post for celebrating this rather #UnknownMasterpiece.
***The images used in this blog post are from the Facebook Page of Byzantium.