Byzantium (2013)

I rose and saw with different eyes. My soul was lost.

Poster ByzantiumThis is so much more than a horror movie. It is a poetic and gothic tale chronicling the story of two women vampires with an unbreakable bond. It begins in modern-day England with Eleanor Webb, who has a story to tell. She writes her story over and over again, just to tear it up and throw it out. She writes it because she is forbidden to tell anyone about her true nature. Her story is about Clara- her savior, her burden, her muse. The film goes back and forth in time, filling in the mystery and creation of these heroines. We get bits and pieces of the story at a time, as if the audience is finding the littered pages of Eleanor Webb’s beautiful memoir.

In the vein of Interview with the Vampire, Eleanor tells us about her keeper and guardian, Clara. It is unclear at the beginning why these two women have such a connection, since they could not be more different. Eleanor can’t escape her past, nor can she forget it. It lives and walks beside her always. She loves solitude; and Clara, on the other hand, is never alone and never looks back at the past. They are night and day, yet their connection is undeniable. Clara is always in company because she is a prostitute and stripper, doing whatever she can so that she and Eleanor have money and a roof over their head. Clara is incredibly ravishing and beautiful. Played by Gemma Arterton, it is a great casting choice since it is hard to tell her age. Sometimes she looks older or younger depending on the scene. It’s strange but works perfectly for an ageless vampire.movies-byzantium

The acting is superb by all, which really draws the audience into their world. All the characters have a renaissance air about them, even in present day. While living at the hotel Byzantium, Eleanor must fight temptation as she becomes close with a teenage boy. She chooses old, dying victims instead. This is probably due to her “clean” upbringing in a catholic orphanage many, many years ago. Her moral dilemma is not held by Clara, who ravages any man she can get her hands on. As a whole, this film is not entirely gory, but the bloody sequences it does possess are very bloody and scenes you won’t soon forget.

byzantium blood river gifTheir history unfolds in dark and passionate splendor. The music reminds me of a romantic tragedy. Told from the perspective of Eleanor, Clara is the real mystery here. Pieces of history reveal the truth of Clara- which is both spellbounding and original. It makes sense now- their unbreakable bond. Traditional vampire myths are thrown out the window. In this one, we never see fangs nor are they affected by sunlight. The legend and origin comes from a secret island and an ocean of blood that washes anew. I love vampire films, especially the ones that show the more humane sides of them- their moral compasses, their eternal suffering, their gift, their curse, their eternal damnation. With increasing violence and a continually evolving plot, the film remains ever interesting. I was enamored by this historic, epic fantasy tale; full of intrigue, meaningful characters, and beautiful tragedy.

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Byzantium (2012) on IMDb

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