Jim Jarmusch on his vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive


I’m a fan of Jim Jarmusch’s movies. He has a weird way of turning moments of boredom into something complicated and interesting, as seen in Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law, Night on Earth, and Mystery Train. He’s also capable of the unexpected, like in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and The Limits of Control.

Only Lovers Left Alive falls firmly into the unexpected category. This is Jarmusch’s riff on vampire movies set in Detroit and Tangier, starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as blood-sucking lovers Adam and Eve. The film also stars Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt, Anton Yelchin, and Jeffrey Wright. In his director’s statement, Jarmusch notes that the film was partly inspired by Mark Twain’s The Diaries of Adam and Eve, and that part of the story will involve finding clean, disease-free blood in the 21st century.

In the gallery are some images from Only Lovers Left Alive. After the cut is Jim Jarmusch’s full director’s statement about the film. Only Lovers Left Alive will screen at Cannes this weekend.

[via The Playlist]

Director’s Statement by Jim Jarmusch:

Only Lovers Left Alive is an unconventional love story between a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. (My script was partially inspired by the last book published by Mark Twain: The Diaries of Adam and Eve — though no direct reference to the book is made other than the character’s names.) These two lovers are archetypal outsiders, classic bohemians, extremely intelligent and sophisticated — yet still in full possession of their animal instincts. They have traveled the world and experienced many remarkable things, always inhabiting the shadowed margins of society. And, like their own love story, their particular perspective on human history spans centuries — because they happen to be vampires.

But this is not your usual vampire story. Set in the very distinct cities of Detroit and Tangier, and taking place almost entirely at night, Adam and Eve must have human blood to survive. But they now live in the world of the 21st century where biting the neck of a stranger would be reckless and regressive — for survival, they must be certain the blood that sustains them is pure and free of disease or contamination. And, almost like shadows, they have learned long ago to deftly avoid the attention of any authorities. For our film, the vampire is a resonant metaphor — a way to frame the deeper intentions of the story. This is a love story, but also the story of two exceptional outsiders who, given their unusual circumstances, have a vast overview of human and natural history, including stunning achievements and tragic and brutal failures. Adam and Eve are themselves metaphors for the present state of human life — they are fragile and endangered, susceptible to natural forces, and to the shortsighted behavior of those in power.

Hubert Vigilla
Brooklyn-based fiction writer, film critic, and long-time editor and contributor for Flixist. A booster of all things passionate and idiosyncratic.