“I suppose because they live these long, long, potentially never-ending lives, and we’re all so terrified of thinking of mortality that we’d rather think about being immortal,” she said. Swinton throughout made vague allusions to vampires being the modern day outsider.
“There’s also something about the way they live on the [fringes] of life,” she continued. “They’re in the backwaters. I love the idea in this film about invisible lives or unclaimed work, that feeling of making [art] and not wanting to put it out there in the world and just putting it out into the ether somehow. I think the idea of invisibility and yet existing visibly is really beautiful and it was always coming. I was never surprised when Jim said to me, ‘Let’s make a vampire film.’ I felt like saying ‘You’ve been making vampire films for years,’ it feels like a very natural state that invisible, immortal world.”
When asked what the visible world would be, Tilda almost seemed appalled, “I would have absolutely no clue.”
The mystique of vampires and this project? Tom Hiddleston weighed in.
Aside from the exciting prospect of Jim Jarmusch, Tilda Swinton and a vampire movie, the themes and the characters of the movie were also alluring to the actor who said he’d spent most of his recent years playing soldiers and super heroes.
“The idea of a character who embodied a romanticism and melancholy, but still motivated by a curiosity towards the things that he loved and I feel like [my character] is fascinated by two separate things which are twined: music and science,” he said. “He’s enamored by vibrating particles, they might be stringed instruments and they might be stars and he’s so passionate about these things and he’s such a brilliant musician and engineer, but in a way he can’t see that and [Tilda’s character] is broader and she can hold his fragility. And it was just a beautiful story about two people who loved each other and accepted each other and they happened to be vampires. And the idea of exploring love in a context of immortality, if you are challenged with immortality, is it a blessing? Is it a curse? And what does that do to your commitment.”
The eloquent answer quieted the room and elicited a “wow” from the Q&A moderator.
Hiddleston said that when Jarmusch first described the story to him the actor said it seemed to him that “these were two very sophisticated creatures, and that perhaps if you saw them walking on the other side of the street, they’d stand out, but in a wild and feral, but beautiful way.”
Swinton suggested they would stand out on certain streets of the world, but in others alleys and backstreets they would be “really at home.”
“They’re also not human, they’re animal,” Swinton stressed. “We talked a lot about them being wolves. There’s a heartbeat in the film that’s in fact a wolves heartbeat. There’s a beautiful luxury of approaching this sort of portrait because you can come with a Martian’s eye-view. We needed to show a long love that is so evolved when they say something to each other, it’s the tip of the iceberg from a conversation they’ve been having for 500 years.”
It’s simply Tilda’s world and we’re just living in it. The actress seems more than comfortable in the weird, it’s where she dwells. “For some people this is vampire film, for some people it’s a fairy story and for other people, it’s a documentary,” she said with a smirk that provoked laughter throughout.
“Well that’s really that’s a producers question because no one wanted to give us the money!” Jarmusch said with emphasis, “It was very difficult. It took a very, very long time and it’s getting more and more difficult for films that are maybe a little unusual or maybe not predictable or not satisfying people’s expectations of something -- which is the beauty of cinema: discovering new things of all forms. Why did it take so long? Because there wasn’t enough people who wanted to help us make the film.”
The film evidently cost $7 million, the majority of the funds coming from Germany, but also the U.K., France and Cypress. Let’s hope Jarmusch doesn’t pull a Soderbergh and retire to make TV shows. Actually that could be pretty interesting...
Jarmusch loves YouTube.
Someone asked Jarmusch about what he felt about YouTube due to the fact that the film has a quick reference to the website. “I love YouTube,” he said emphatically. The filmmaker rattled off a type of playlist mix of things that he loves to watch, including a Merle Haggard performance from the ‘50s, a John Cage lecture on mycology and mushroom identification, a young Frank Zappa on "The Steve Allen Show," and many outre cultural references. “I’m so bored with normal television delivering you things with commercials and things, I like to program my own input so YouTube is fantastic.”
Sony Pictures Classics picked up “Only Lovers Left Alive” yesterday for North America and we’ll be seeing the film, presumably sometime later this year.