Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) – directed by Jim Jarmusch

“For rhythm and harmony penetrate deeply into the mind and have a most powerful effect on it, and if education is good, bring balance and fairness, if it is bad, the reverse.” – Plato

“It is part of the business of the critic to preserve tradition – where a good tradition exists.  It is part of his business to see literature steadily and to see it whole; and this is eminently to see it not as consecrated by time, but to see it beyond time; to see the best work of our time and the best work of twenty-five hundred years ago with the same eyes.” – T.S. Eliot

“The cinema … is – in Jean Cocteau’s famous words – ‘a dream that can be dreamt by many people at the same time’.” – John Wain

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It is all but superfluous to point out that movies and TV shows about vampires have recently been, let us say, trendy.  But the sheer quantity of it, produced by popular demand, can still be rather surprising even now.  The Twilight phenomenon alone was incredible to observe.  From a literary point of view, one can’t help feeling at least a tinge of curiosity whenever a book, or series of books, is suddenly being voraciously read by millions of people all at the same time (all of whom do not normally read books).  It was that curiosity (combined with the fact that an attractively engaging person I knew was reading it) that led me, years ago, to open up Stephanie Meyer’s first Twilight book at the bookstore.  Unsurprisingly, upon opening it, the first few pages of the book soundly demonstrated the tragedy that besets all those writers who have yet to develop any ear at all for the natural rhythms of English prose.

Ms. Meyer somehow managed to blend an impoverished and clunky writing style with inane lines of dialogue, and then peppered this concatenation throughout with cut-and-paste story-board clichés.  This whole sordid exhibition of third grade level sentence structure was sold to the public all in order to tell the story of the transitory mental states of a teenage girl, with the required amounts of low self-esteem necessary in order to be seduced by a one hundred and four year old vampire.  The result?  Why, naturally, a bestseller.

That book was published in 2005.  The first film was released in 2008.  But I would feel both redundant and cheap to go on criticizing the Twilight fad.  By now such criticism is both commonplace and demonstrably futile.  But I have started out with it in order to make a different point.  And my point is more generally related to all the vampire films and TV shows we have seen over the last decade.

What is it that is most obviously wrong with today’s vampire stories?  I would submit that it is in the conversation of the vampires.

Both The Vampire Diaries and HBO’s True Blood suffer from the same defect.  (See them uttering lines like “Damon, please, after all these years, can’t we just give it a rest?” or “Well, I figure if you’re gonna dump me, you should at least … um … know who you’re dumping.” and then compare where vampire Bill sadly delivers lines like “Oh, but you have other very juicy arteries. There is one in the groin that’s a particular favorite of mine.”)  Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where the dialogue was often quite clever, still has Angel, the two hundred and forty-one year old vampire, saying things like “Listen, if we date, you and I both know one thing’s going to lead to another” or “A hundred years, just hanging out, feeling guilty … I really honed my brooding skills.”  There were at least sixteen different vampire films from the year 2012 alone.  Among them, indicative examples included: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (“There are two kinds of man, Mr. Lincoln. Those that have the guts to pull the trigger … and those who do not.”), Byzantium (“We are the pointed nails of justice.”), Underworld: Awakening (“For a brief moment of time, we were safe. But, then, a new Darkness arose!”) and Vamps (“I didn’t put in rollers so I’m gonna have coffin hair tomorrow.”)

So … why, in all of today’s vampire stories, are these vampires so mentally vacuous?  Why are the lines of dialogue that they are given so stupid and empty-headed?  Why do they never speak as if they had really lived for hundreds of years?  This occurs, mind you, even when the filmmakers are careful enough to explicitly point out to the viewer that the vampire has lived for hundreds, if not for thousands, of years.

Imagine, for just a moment, that you were to actually experience meeting and conversing with a vampire.  If one really were to run across a vampire in real life, what would the most striking thing be that you would notice?  Pale skin?  Too many of us are pale these days.  It comes with all the office cubicles and florescent lighting.  Sharp teeth?  I would venture to guess that all vampires who proceeded to show first acquaintances their sharp teeth would be just those vampires who possessed very short nonlife spans.  A black cape?  Hallucinatory eyes?  Long finger nails?  Please.

Here is where today’s scriptwriters degrade and humiliate their vampires.

It’s so obvious that I’m disappointed in myself that it took my watching Only Lovers Left Alive for me to think of it.  If you were to actually meet a person who had lived even an “undead” life successfully for a historical age or more, the first thing you would notice would be that person’s conversation, intelligence and education.  He or she would make you feel the limitations of your own I.Q. by comparison.  After all, considering the way modern culture has gone over the years and considering the way that education has been gutted in the last century, most likely a vampire in today’s time would be pretty depressed at the current state of things.  In fact, any person who was educated before the 20th century would most likely struggle with a very great temptation to have contempt for us all and for the ways in which we now live.

How could they not?  Most likely, if you met a vampire who was not new and who had not got himself killed over the last couple centuries, then you would be meeting a person who had not merely mastered street smarts.  Most likely this person (a) has read all of the classics of history and literature, (b) has absorbed all the greatest works of philosophy, Western and Eastern, (c) has at some point pursued all the lines of thought (sometimes as they were contemporaneously developed) by all the greatest minds of science, (d) speaks dozens of different languages and (e) has spent entire decades meditating and reflecting upon the lessons, vagaries, follies, wars, loves, successes and failures of human life – along with plenty of time to make careful observations.

If you were a scriptwriter, how, how, in the name of everything under heaven, could you leave this part of being a vampire out of the story you were writing?  Any half-decent vampire would be bound to have very particular views about our modern mass-media consumerized age.  Why, oh why, would you use a vampire and then tell just another love story or just another action story without there being any difference at all?  What do you think any classically educated vampire would feel upon nonliving in the year of our Lord, 2014?

The decline of culture, the modern obsessions with pop fads, the uglification of architecture, the dumbing down of news and political discourse, the mass-produced and artificially processed foods in the grocery stores, the addictions to television, social media, computer games and iPhones, the apparently willful neglect of art and learning and beauty in our modern age … all these things would most likely profoundly affect any person who had been living through century after century after century.

Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Coffee and Cigarettes, Broken Flowers, The Limits of Control) – director, scriptwriter, producer, editor, music composer – understands the great importance of this necessary consequence of a vampire story.  In an interview, Jarmusch commented on how negative reviews the film has received have criticized his protagonists for being snobs.  He explained: “And someone said, ‘Yeah, but they’re just snobbish characters.’ Well, if you and I were alive for 500, 1,000, 2,000 years, we would certainly appear as snobs to everyone else, because our knowledge and experience would be so much more vast …”  As a result of this insight, he has just given us one of the most intelligent vampire films ever made.  And not only does Jarmusch give us an intelligent film, but he takes the traditional idea of a vampire and then uses it compellingly to take a look at where we all are right now.

There are many different forms of social commentary, but sometimes, when you have a director like Jarmusch who views film as art rather than as mere entertainment, something very special can happen.  The end result here is not just social commentary; it’s a beautiful, bluesy, slow, meandering, nightmarish, melancholy, contemplative dream.

With Only Lovers Left Alive, Jarmusch is doing what any artist ought to do.  The film reminds me of an excerpt from Gregory Wolfe’s challenging book, Beauty Will Save the World.  Wolfe wrote:

“The artist, like anyone else, is a representative of his time.  His role, to paraphrase Hamlet, is to reveal ‘the form and pressure of the age.’  By ‘pressure,’ Shakespeare means impression or stamp.  While it is true that some art can portray the ideal, the primary burden of art is to grapple with the reality of the present.  Only by engaging the present can art achieve universal meaning.  Modern artists create works that reflect modern conditions; they explore modernity, as it were, from the inside.  The least imaginative of them merely reflect the surface of things.  But the great artists dramatize the conflicts of their time, embedding meaning deep within their works.”

So what are the challenges of modernity today?  What have we done to ourselves over the last few decades that shape the ways in which we live?  Only Lovers Left Alive could be seen as a sort of futuristic, dystopian tale.  But really, once you take a second look, there is nothing in it that would logically lead one to think that it wasn’t set in the present.

The two main protagonists in the film are named Adam and Eve.  Adam, played with dry humor by Tom Hiddleston (Thor, The Deep Blue Sea), is a vampire who is still living with one foot in the Romantic period of the 1800s and the other in the ‘60s & ‘70s world of classic rock & blues guitar.  He’s a composer and an inventor.  His walls are covered with hanging guitars and other instruments.  He recruits a human, Ian, played by Anton Yelchin (Like Crazy, Star Trek), to find old collectible guitars.  Ian has managed to help Adam acquire an early ‘60s Silvertone (played by both Bob Dylan and Jack White), a Chet Atkins 1961, a 1960 Hagstrom (played by Jimi Hendrix) and even a 1905 Gibson (think Roy Oribson, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton, B.B. King or Jimmy Page).  Adam names his guitars after Renaissance composers but also fondly remembers watching early rock n’ roll artists like Eddie Cochrane perform.  If you look closely, you will also see, hanging on Adam’s walls, portraits of thinkers, writers and composers (including Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Johann Sebastian Bach and Christopher Marlowe).

The problem with Adam is that he’s struggling through deep depression.  This is where the film is clever.  As the story progresses, we learn that modern humans (Adam calls us “zombies”), have infected their blood with drug use and unhealthy diets.  The result is that most human beings are so unhealthy and infected, that for a vampire to drink their blood is to risk becoming terribly sick.  Adam is also too much in love with the true and the beautiful to be able to stomach most of modern culture or media.  This is why he stays alone in his house at night, just sitting there in the darkness, dejectedly contemplating what has been wrecked by the modern world.  His rooms are absolutely covered in stacks of old books, stereos, amps, vinyl records, guitars, violins and old photographs.  He still composes blues music and calls it funeral music.  At one point, it is casually revealed that he composed and gave music to Franz Schubert and Franz Liszt to pass off as their own.

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Eve: “What is it, you look tired.”

Adam: “Do I?  I guess I am.  Yeah.”

Eve: “… So what is this then? Can’t you tell your wife what your problem is?”

Adam: “It’s the zombies and the way they treat the world.  I just feel like all the sands at the bottom of the hourglass or something.”

Eve: “Time to turn it over then.”

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Eve is played delightfully by Tilda Swinton, who, in real life, is in her early 50s.  I don’t think many films quite get her beauty.  She is made by Jarmusch and cinematographer, Yorick Le Saux, to look both ageless and almost as if she were a sort of albino enchantress, and yes, albinos can be very beautiful.  (Le Saux also filmed Swinton appealingly in Luca Guadagino’s I Am Love.)  There are numerous scenes where Swinton appears almost to glow.  Eve lives in Tangiers, one of the haunts of the writer, William Burroughs.  Her saunters through the streets of the city are like moving through a dreamscape of brown, white and golden light mixed with endless variations of shadow.  She walks (or stalks) with a determined saunter that matches the way that she talks, no nonsense and to the point.  Her walls are also covered in books, even more than Adam’s.  She reads poetry.  In preparation for travel, she fills two suitcases with nothing but books, from Cervantes’s Don Quixote to Wallace’s Infinite Jest.

Best of all, she is a voice of reason and encouragement against Adam’s doubts and depression.  She cautions him that he always has “the convenience of the zombies to blame” whenever he gets low and reminds him of his scientific and literary heroes, who stood for the good things of human life that he believes in.  “How can you live for so long and still not get it?” she asks him, “This self-obsession, it’s a waste of living that could be spent on surviving things, appreciating nature, nurturing kindness and friendship and … dancing.  You’ve been pretty lucky in love though, if I may say so.”  She regales him with the wonders and mysteries of creation, telling him of a white dwarf up in space which she describes as “a diamond up there the size of planet” that emits music into the ether.  She encourages him to open his eyes to his surroundings and hints that depression is closely tied to spending too much time thinking of nothing but one’s own self.

Putting these two characters together and developing their relationship allows Jarmusch to encourage the viewer to think of the bigger picture.  Whatever problems our own selves may be struggling with at any given moment, there are real things that still make life worth living.  There are great scientific discoveries and works of art that demonstrate the finer things that make us human.  Set in the midst of the modern age, watching an ancient Adam and Eve meditate upon and react to the world around them offers us a different and older point of view about our own lives and how we now live them.

While I won’t give away any spoilers, it will not be a spoiler to point out what is revealed in the opening minutes of the film, namely, that in the universe of Only Lovers Left Alive, William Shakespeare is still alive.  Played as a weary and worldly-wise vampire by John Hurt, he is a friend of Eve in Tangiers.  He still wears his favorite clothing from 1586.  Technically, Shakespeare is here really Christopher Marlowe, but that doesn’t really matter.  In the world of the story, different famous names are often the humans who passed off the works of vampires as their own.  This isn’t meant to be controversial or to decrease the works’ value.  At one point, Eve teases him by saying that they should leak proof that he is the one who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays.  She suggests playfully that “It would cause such thrilling chaos.”  “I think,” he replies, wryly, “the world is in enough chaos to keep it going.”

Marlowe/Shakespeare also knows Adam.  In an early scene, he tells Eve to give his regards “to that suicidal romantic scoundrel.”  Humorously enough and hinting at the sort of person Adam is, he tells her: “I wish I would have met him before I wrote Hamlet.  He would have provided the most perfect role model imaginable.”  Eve responds with a tempered view of Romanticism: “Well let’s hope he’s just romantic.  Even so I mainly blame Shelley and Byron and some of those French assholes who used to hang around him.”  Adam is more sensitive than anyone else.  The problem is that he indulges in his sensitivity by making it flirt with an unhealthy narcissism.

Another of the themes that makes Only Lovers Left Alive unique is the conscious awareness that Adam and Eve both possess of the consumerist wrecked culture of the “zombies.”  The brave new world in which they find themselves has stopped valuing the best that has been thought and created in the cultures of the world.  Instead, the world has been dominated by a utilitarian industrialization and commercialization that has turned everything into products to be bought, sold and consumed.  Beauty is now something sacrificed for convenience.  And here the vampire symbolism works out nicely.  As Eve walks through the shadows, huddled men shout or whisper to her “Hey! We have all you need.”  They are unwittingly offering to satisfy more appetites than they realize.  But while Eve does not take them up on their offers, “I have what you need” is a phrase repeated to her constantly throughout the film.  Occasionally, either Adam or Eve will be unfortunate enough to notice someone’s blood.  The sight is always tempting.  In fact, the very sight of human beings is, for them, relentlessly tempting – always appealing to their appetites.  But these particular vampires have to use great self-restraint because the products on display are already poisoned.  The irony and allegory will not be lost on the attentive viewer.

T.S. Eliot wrote of the insidious “steady influence which operates silently in any mass society organised for profit, for the depression of standards of art and culture.  The increasing organisation of advertisement and propaganda – or the influencing of masses of men by any means except through their intelligence – is all against them.  The economic system is against them; the chaos of ideals and confusion of thought in our large scale mass education is against them; and against them also is the disappearance of any class of people who recognise public and private responsibility of patronage of the best that is made and written …”

The atmosphere of Only Lovers Left Alive is that of existing in the middle of an industrial wasteland.  In the city of Detroit, howling dogs, if not coyotes, can be heard crying out in the darkness.  The camera slowly shows us a ravaged and desolate Detroit.  Traffic lights, portions of the city seemingly erased by dirty shadows, neon lights, street lights, burnt out street lights, train tracks, all these things are covered in the haze of steam and smoke of what what seems like a burnt out world.

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Eve: “What about all your blessed scientists?”

Adam: “Scientists … well look at what they’ve done to them.  Pythagorus?  Slaughtered.  Galileo?  Imprisoned.  Copernicus?  Ridiculed.  Poor old Newton pushed into secrecy and alchemy.  Tesla?  Destroyed and his beautiful possibilities completely ignored.  And they’re still bitching about Darwin … still.  So much for the scientists … And now they’ve succeeded in contaminating their own ****ing blood, nevermind their water.”

Eve: “Yeah, well, if we’re going to have a litany of all the zombie atrocities of history, we’ll be here till the sun comes up.”

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Adam takes Eve out on drives through the city, but mostly the drives serve to emphasize the ways in which the city has fallen.  They pass by multiple instances of ugly, concrete modern architecture consisting of now abandoned and hollow buildings.  This physical environment is part of what is obviously having a psychological impact on Adam.  These blights of dirty concrete represent the world and the culture as it currently exists.  His very salvation will rest upon whether he is able to respond to it with something other than his own focus on himself and on what he perceives as a hopeless decline.  Russell Kirk helps us reflect on this theme when he writes:

“The recovery of order in the soul cannot be separated from the restoration of order in the body politic.  Plato knew, for even the philosopher may be seduced by the degeneracy of his age; and the average sensual man finds it next to impossible to maintain the order of his soul in a corrupt community.  ‘Society can destroy a man’s soul,’ Voegelin observes, ‘because the disorder of society is a disease in the psyche of its members.  The troubles which the philosopher experiences in his own soul are the troubles in the psyche of the surrounding society which press on him.  And the diagnosis of health and disease in the soul, is, therefore, at the same time a diagnosis of order and disorder in society.’”

This is, in fact, precisely what Only Lovers Left Alive is about.  Another advantage of seeing Adam and Eve together is that it allows Jarmusch to combine their two different points of view.  Adam pays attention to what the world has lost.  He values the beautiful, and he tries to show it to Eve, even as it is fading.  (One of the film’s best scenes is where Adam takes Eve to see the historic Michigan Theater.)  Eve pays attention to what is still worthwhile and she points Adam away from allowing a cultural disorder to encourage his self-pity.  “Just think of that magical musical diamond in the sky above us now,” she tells him.  Taken and mixed together, both of their points of view grow stronger and wiser.

So just how valuable is a film like this?  Nothing much really “happens” during the film.  Instead of buildings being knocked down we see them having grown old and hollowed out.  Instead of villains violently defeated, we see a world full of lives lived to satisfy appetite to the point of poisoning the rest of the world.  There is a sense in which the Adam and Eve of this film are watching us.  And Jarmusch asks us to enter their points of view.  They are spectators who have been watching, not just history, but the history and development of our culture.  Film is still quite young in the grand scheme of things, but a film like this could be an example of what film as art instead of as entertainment can encourage.  Writing about works of art in literature, C.S. Lewis explained what I believe can also be applied to works of art in film:

“The true aim of literary studies is to lift the student out of his provincialism by making him ‘the spectator’, if not of all, yet of much, ‘time and existence.’  The student, or even the schoolboy, who has been brought by good (and therefore mutually disagreeing) teachers to meet the past where alone the past still lives, is taken out of the narrowness of his own age and class into a more public world.  He is learning the true Phaenomenologie des Geistes; discovering what varieties there are in Man.  ‘History’ alone will not do, for it studies the past mainly in secondary authorities.  It is possible to ‘do History’ for years without knowing at the end what it felt like to be an Anglo-Saxon eorl, a cavalier, an eighteenth-century country gentleman.  The gold behind the paper currency is to be found, almost exclusively, in literature.  In it lies deliverance from the tyranny of generalizations and catchwords.”

What if the true aim of watching good films could be the same as reading great literature?  What if directors made films designed to dispel our own provincialism in time?  What if films could offer a past alive (Adam and Eve are almost past centuries embodied) that could encourage us to see through the narrowness of our own age and culture?  What if a vampire film helped us imagine what it would feel like to be a person who was cursed to live for hundreds of years?  Jarmusch attempts to do all these things and the end result is a pleasure to see.  As an artist, he is interested in stories that awaken our imaginations rather than appeal to our appetite for sensation.  In Only Lovers Left Alive, he has created a film about artists who are aware of the lethal destructiveness of their own dangerous appetites.

In the Vulture interview I quoted from above, Jarmusch also commented further on why he made this film.  His explanation is revealing:

“… this might be my first film about artists. Maybe that’s why I have trouble talking about it. I don’t want to demystify the film and I don’t want to explain it. And also this film is very laden with references. Not that I don’t put references to things in all my films — just hoping that maybe if one kid in Kansas gets turned onto William Blake or something then I did my job. But I feel like I put a lot in there this time for people to absorb. Maybe I overdid it. It’s hard to know. I’m too close to the film.”

Any director who envisions goals like that is a director whose works we should all be interested in.  

Remember too that Jarmusch the artist is also a composer and music lover.  Did I mention the music?  This is, quite appropriately enough, a musical film.  The characters love music and, in spite of the nightmarish quality of the film, their enthusiasm for music is catching.  (Adam and Eve both handle vinyl records here as if they were hallowed relics.)  Here is a case where the atmosphere and the music are just as important as the story.  Because there is something unnatural about the characters, there is inevitably something other-worldly about the film’s musical score.  Dutch minimalist composer, Jozef van Wissem, has made what is probably my favorite movie soundtrack of the year.

Riffs and fuzzy distortion … blues guitar blending with Eastern and Mediterranean flavor … classical guitar that mixes somehow into jazz and then gets amplified before fading into something slow and even tender … all incalculably invest the film with the feeling of a slow motion sort of dream.  Mix the soundtrack with oldies like Charlie Feathers’ 1956 “Can’t Hardly Stand It” or Wanda Jackson’s 1961 hypnotic and dizzying “Funnel of Love” and the film deepens with enchantment.  And that doesn’t even include the sheer charm of what can happen when Swinton asks Hiddleston to dance to Denise LaSalle’s 1971 “Trapped By a Thing Called Love.”  As melancholy as the film feels at times, there is an underlying joy to it.

There is still more to appreciate.  But I refuse to give away some of the pleasant surprises.  Instead, I’ll point out some of what you should watch for.  When you see the film, pay attention to how many different names Jeffrey Wright’s Dr. Watson calls Adam.  If you don’t know them, look them up.  Listen to the sorts of justifications that Eve’s sister, Ava, gives for gratifying her own appetites.  Enjoy Adam’s view of the kinds of things that Ava spends her time watching on YouTube.  Mia Wasikowska, by the way, seems to have great fun with the role of Ava.  Intentionally on Jarmusch’s part, Wasikowska hams it up sufficiently so that she typifies the attitude of most vampires in most vampire films.  Perhaps unintentionally, she also voices the same main criticism that other critics would echo of Only Lovers Left Alive.  “Do you know what you guys are?” she asks them, “You’re condescending snobs!”

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Adam: “This is the famous Michigan Theater.  They built it back in the 1920s with huge sums of money.  It’s built ironically on the exact same site as Henry Ford made his very first prototype.  They used to be able to seat over four thousand people in here.”

Eve: “It’s fantastic.  For what, for concerts?”

Adam: “Concerts and there was a movie house, can you imagine?  Mirrors used to reflect the chandeliers … and now? …”

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Sometimes it is a little embarrassing to admit the sorts of things that can move you.  More than that, when you try to praise something that you have learned to appreciate or love, you open yourself up to cynicism, mockery or, worst of all, incomprehension.  But Only Lovers Left Alive moved me.  And it did so because it asked me to imagine how its characters would feel.  If there is one final theme I would ask you to think about when you watch this film, it would be the fragile nature of the beautiful.  This is a film about loss and decay.  It offers a way of looking at ourselves and what we no longer have around us.  There are so many different ways in which beauty can fade, disappear and be destroyed.  The tragedy in imagining this is real.  Theodore Dalrymple writes:

“Beauty is a fragile and vulnerable quality, and moreover one that is difficult to achieve; ugliness, by contrast, is unbreakable and invulnerable, and very easy to achieve … By espousing the ugly, we make ourselves invulnerable too; for when we espouse the ugly, we are telling others that ‘You can’t shock, depress, intimidate, blackmail, or browbeat me.’  We use the ugly as a kind of armour-plating, to establish our complete autonomy in the world; for he who says that ‘I find this beautiful,’ or ‘This moves me deeply,’ reveals something very important about himself that makes him vulnerable to others.  Do we ever feel more contempt than for someone who finds something beautiful, or is deeply moved by, what we find banal, trivial or in bad taste?  Best, then, to keep silent about beauty: then no one can mock or deride us for our weakness, and our ego remains unbruised.  And in the modern world, ego is all.”

Yet, as Adam and Eve glide through the burnt out wastelands of Detroit and Tangier, spending their nights going through the dangers of a world lost to satisfaction of the appetite, their characters suggest an alternative.  Literally and metaphorically, instead of consuming poison, they strive to consume the wholesome and the worthwhile.  In a world where the best things from the past are being forgotten, they strive to remember.  And, finally, in a world that encourages focusing on the self, instead, they have the opportunity to focus on the other – whether it means a musical star, an antique instrument that was played by a great artist, a genius playwright who has not been acknowledge in history or simply each other.

Having imagined what it would be like to be in their shoes, we can look at our own lives and make decisions about our own consumption habits.  We could watch the sorts of films whose scriptwriters’ idea of a vampire romancing a woman means he will say things like “You are the most important thing to me now. The most important thing to me ever!” or … we could choose to watch films where he will ask her “Shall I tell you again about spooky action at a distance?  Einstein’s theory of entanglement?”  We could watch films where, after some trouble, the hero will ask his underage girlfriend “What if I’m not a superhero? What if I’m the bad guy?” or we could watch films where, in a moment of exasperation, he will ask his wife “What century is this?  Tesla had light bulbs in 1895.”

I, for one, am more interested in “the good stuff” and Jim Jarmusch is making it.

 

References:

– Dalrymple, Theodore.  Anything Goes.  2011.  pgs. 217-218

– Ebiri, Bilge.  “Jim Jarmusch on Only Lovers Left Alive, Vampires, and the Shakespeare Conspiracy.”  Vulture.  April 11, 2014

– Eliot, T.S.  The Idea of a Christian Society.  1939.  pg. 32

– Kirk, Russell. Enemies of the Permanent Things. 1969.  pg. 279

– Lewis, C.S. “Is English Doomed?” The Spectator.  February 11, 1944

– Wolfe, Gregory.  Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age.  2011.  pg. 5