Thoughts on ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013)


For those interested, it’s a vampire flick that’s not really a vampire flick.  The horror archetype is used effectively as a metaphor and as a convincing device to show the passage of time.  In mythology the tale would have included gods discussing the days of yore and debating the merits of their contemporary society.  In this film vampires stand in for mythical gods: they’re old, they know it all, they’ve seen it all, and they’ve even likely been some of your favorite writers/composers/musicians/et al without you even knowing it.  The blood drinking requirement is the lone hold-over staple of the genre, but it too serves the metaphor.  The vampire of today’s world needs special, purified blood free of the contaminants existing in the blood of contemporary citizens. In other words, society has become poisonous. 

This statement is supported by the setting of the majority of the film: Detroit, Michigan.  An odd place to set a vampire story, but again this serves the thematic elements of the film.  Much like the ancient mythological landmarks and cities (think, Stonehenge or the Parthenon) Detroit is a city in ruin.  Once the mecca of automobile invention and creation as well as the center of the music world for a period of time, the city is shown as a desolate landscape populated by more wild dogs than humans.  

I’ve read reviews that describe this movie as “cool”, and I think the term applies.  There is something very cool about these vampires.  They don’t fight amongst each another, they value their privacy, they don’t pray upon humans, and they have spent most of their long time on Earth pondering the intricacies of humankind, expanding their knowledge, or furthering their interests.  Which is an existence that, perhaps, makes one lonely in knowing that their lives will never end unless drastic action is taken. They have extraordinary artistic talents and knowledge that can never be published or attributed to them, and in turn appreciated, lest they out themselves as vampires.  These metaphorical aspects of vampirism are what compel the overall mood and sadness of the film to be not only thought-provoking, but strangely entertaining..

These are the themes the film quietly ponders, and honestly, it is pretty cool.

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