Vampire Pastimes to Immortality: Boredom vs. Playfulness in Only Lovers Left Alive

by Elena Sarno


This podcast is an introduction to a screening of Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), presented by Elena Sarno, at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 23rd August 2016. You can find the text version of this introduction here.

Elena Sarno has spent several years in film and television production in Italy, Spain and Australia, first as Script Supervisor then as Cinematographer and Camera Assistant. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Film Studies at the University of Sydney with a thesis on playful filmmaking in narrative cinema.

Vampires, although mythological creatures, are in many ways close relatives of humans: they look almost exactly the same, they struggle with love and hunger and death, they live very long lives. Their main differences from humans are their diet, a couple of teeth and their immortality, or semi-immortality. Their physical survival rests on feeding properly and not getting killed, like us. In Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) their mental health is threatened by a boredom bordering depression, which can be just as deadly as contaminated blood or a wooden bullet in the heart.  Their game of survival, or game of life, rests on two skills: accessing uncontaminated blood, possibly without killing to avoid trouble with the police; and finding ways to enjoy day after day after day for centuries and millennia. This presentation explores Adam and Eve, the vampires in Only Lovers Left Alive – and other cinematographic vampires – as creatures that spend most of their lives dealing with time anxiety, mortality and immortality – and what tactics they adopt in dealing with an endless, infinite succession of moments, and why Eve’s playful strategies are more successful.

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