Updated On: March 05, 2024 by   Esraa Mahmoud   Esraa Mahmoud  

Byzantium

Byzantium (2012): A Brilliant Dark Gem!

Sometimes, it feels like trying to find a vampire film that really stands out from the countless horror and fantasy offerings out there is quite hard these days, but thankfully, we have good films like Byzantium (2012)! Byzantium (2012), directed by Neil Jordan, is a captivating and atmospheric vampire film that breathes new life into […]

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Review

Sometimes, it feels like trying to find a vampire film that really stands out from the countless horror and fantasy offerings out there is quite hard these days, but thankfully, we have good films like Byzantium (2012)!

Byzantium (2012), directed by Neil Jordan, is a captivating and atmospheric vampire film that breathes new life into the genre. Released in 2012, the film offers a fresh take on the timeless themes of immortality, love, and the thirst for blood.

The film is a unique and haunting vampire film that stands out from others in the genre. Byzantium (2012) follows two mysterious women who are hiding their vampiric nature while seeking refuge at a seaside resort. Coming up next, we take a closer look at one of the best vampire movies out there, Byzantium (2012).

Plot of Byzantium!

The plot of Byzantium revolves around two female vampires, Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan), who are centuries old and have been on the run for years, seeking refuge from a male-dominated vampire society that hunts them. The film unfolds in a non-linear fashion, blending the past with the present to reveal their backstory.

Clara and Eleanor arrive in a coastal town and set up residence in an abandoned hotel called Byzantium. Clara, a prostitute turned vampire, supports them by engaging in similar activities, while Eleanor, who is more introspective and sensitive, spends her time writing their story.

As the story progresses, flashbacks reveal that Clara was transformed into a vampire by a naval officer named Captain Ruthven during the 18th century. Eleanor, on the other hand, was turned by Clara herself after suffering abuse at the hands of a nobleman.

Their secret existence is threatened when two men, Frank and Noel, become entangled in their lives. Frank falls in love with Eleanor, while Noel discovers Clara’s true nature and blackmails her for money. The situation escalates, leading to a violent confrontation that results in Clara and Eleanor having to flee once again.

Throughout the film, themes of femininity, power, and the nature of immortality are explored. Clara represents a more assertive and pragmatic approach to survival, while Eleanor embodies a more philosophical and melancholic view of their existence.

In the end, Clara sacrifices herself to protect Eleanor, allowing her to escape and continue living. The film concludes with Eleanor narrating their story, suggesting that their journey is far from over.

Two mysterious women seek refuge at a seaside resort, hiding their vampiric nature and unravelling the secret that could lead to deathly consequences.

Cast and Crew

Directed by Neil Jordan, Byzantium (2012) features an impressive cast, including Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, and Sam Riley.

Directed by Neil Jordan

Byzantium

Neil Jordan, born in 1950, is a towering figure in Irish cinema, renowned for his captivating storytelling and ability to explore complex themes across various genres. While you recently had the pleasure of watching one of his films, understanding the breadth of his career can elevate your appreciation for his artistry.

Jordan began his career in the late 1970s, writing for Irish television and making his feature film debut with Angel in 1982. He quickly established a unique voice, weaving together social commentary, psychological depth, and a touch of the fantastical. Films like The Company of Wolves (1984) and Mona Lisa (1986) showcased his masterful use of symbolism and dreamlike imagery, often blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.

His 1992 masterpiece, The Crying Game, catapulted Jordan to international acclaim. This suspenseful drama tackled themes of political conflict and sexual identity with remarkable sensitivity, earning him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Jordan continued to explore diverse themes throughout his career. He brought Irish history to life in the sprawling biopic Michael Collins (1996) and captured the essence of childhood innocence grappling with societal issues in The Butcher Boy (1997). He also ventured into the realm of the fantastical with Interview with the Vampire (1994), showcasing his versatility as a storyteller.

Beyond directing, Jordan is a prolific writer, having penned novels and short stories that resonate with the same depth and complexity as his films. His ability to navigate between mediums further underscores his mastery of the narrative arts.

Gemma Arterton

Byzantium

Gemma Arterton, born in 1986, is an English actress and film producer who has carved her path beyond the typical Hollywood trajectory. Her career highlights a diverse range of roles, showcasing her talent beyond being just a pretty face.

Arterton’s journey began in her teenage years on the stage, performing for local theatre companies. Her dedication led her to win a place at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London. While still a student, she landed her first professional film role in the 2007 drama Capturing Mary.

Her breakthrough came in the same year with the comedy St. Trinian’s, followed by her iconic turn as the captivating Bond Girl, Strawberry Fields, in the 2008 film Quantum of Solace. This role propelled Arterton into the spotlight, earning her an Empire Award for Best Newcomer.

Instead of solely capitalising on her newfound fame, Arterton actively sought out roles that showcased her versatility. In 2019, Arterton took a step beyond acting, venturing into film production with the WWII drama Summerland. This project reunited her with director Jessica Swale, highlighting her commitment to collaborations fostering female talent.

More recently, Arterton donned the iconic Kingsman suit in The King’s Man as Pollyana Polly Wilkins, a brave and resourceful spy. This action role further cemented her ability to handle diverse characters and challenge audience expectations.

As Arterton continues on her career path, one thing remains clear: she is an actress who is not afraid to take risks, embrace challenges, and champion diverse voices both on and off-screen. Her dedication to her craft and willingness to push boundaries ensure that we can expect exciting things from her in the years to come.

Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse Ronan, born in 1994 in New York City to Irish parents, is a captivating actress who has carved a remarkable path in Hollywood. Despite being born in the US, she holds dual citizenship and considers Ireland her home. Ronan’s journey began at a young age, with her first acting experience in the Irish medical drama The Clinic in 2003.

Soon after, she made her film debut in 2007, captivating audiences with her nuanced portrayal of a young Briony Tallis in the critically acclaimed Atonement. This performance, at the tender age of 13, earned her a coveted Oscar nomination, making her one of the youngest actresses ever to achieve this feat.

Ronan’s career continued to blossom, showcasing her versatility in various roles. She seamlessly transitioned between period dramas like The Lovely Bones and Hanna to contemporary films like Brooklyn and Lady Bird, the latter garnering her a Golden Globe Award.

Throughout her career, Ronan has consistently pushed boundaries. With four Oscar nominations and numerous other accolades to her name, Ronan has established herself as an undeniable talent. Her ability to embody complex characters with depth and authenticity has garnered her critical acclaim and a global audience. At just 29 years old, Saoirse Ronan is a force to be reckoned with, destined to leave an enduring mark on the film industry.

Sam Riley

Born in 1980, English actor and singer Sam Riley initially carved his path in music. As the frontman of Leeds-based band 10,000 Things, he experienced moderate success before venturing into the world of acting.

His big break came in 2007 with the biographical film Control, where he delivered a captivating performance as Ian Curtis, the lead singer of the iconic post-punk band Joy Division. Riley’s uncanny resemblance and ability to channel Curtis’ emotional intensity earned him critical acclaim and a BIFA Award for Best Debut Actor.

Following his breakthrough, Riley displayed his versatility by taking on diverse roles. He embarked on a journey of self-discovery as Sal Paradise in the 2012 adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, captivated audiences as the complex Diaval in the fantasy film Maleficent (2014), and offered a unique spin on the classic role of Mr. Darcy in the zombie-infused Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016).

Throughout his career, Riley has consistently demonstrated his talent and willingness to take on challenging characters. He continues to work on various film projects, solidifying his position as a prominent figure in the British and international film industry.

Release and Reception

The critical and audience reception of Byzantium was somewhat mixed. Some critics praised the performances of Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan, who portrayed their characters with depth and nuance.

The film’s visual style, with its beautifully shot scenes, also received praise for creating a melancholic and poignant atmosphere. However, some critics felt that the plot lacked coherence and failed to explore its intriguing themes fully.

Despite these mixed reviews, many viewers found the film to be a unique and haunting take on the vampire genre. They appreciated its departure from traditional vampire myths and enjoyed the exploration of teen romance intertwined with excruciating choices and sacrifices. Overall, Byzantium managed to captivate audiences despite not receiving universal acclaim from critics.

In conclusion, Byzantium is a dark gem—a blend of visual poetry, feminist themes, and performances that linger like half-remembered dreams. It invites us to question immortality, love, and the shadows we carry within. Whether you’re a fan of vampire films or simply enjoy thought-provoking storytelling, Byzantium is definitely worth watching.

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