Byzantium (film)

Last updated

Byzantium
Poster for the film "Byzantium".jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Neil Jordan
Screenplay by Moira Buffini
Based onA Vampire Story by Moira Buffini
Produced by
Starring
Cinematography Sean Bobbitt
Edited byTony Lawson
Music by Javier Navarrete
Production
companies
  • Demarest Films
  • Lipsync Productions
  • Number 9 Films
  • Parallel Film Productions
  • WestEnd Films
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 9 September 2012 (2012-09-09)(TIFF)
  • 31 May 2013 (2013-05-31)(United Kingdom)
  • 28 June 2013 (2013-06-28)(United States)
Running time
118 minutes [1]
Countries
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget€8 million [2]
Box office$828,284 [3]

Byzantium is a 2012 vampire film directed by Neil Jordan. The film stars Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, and Sam Riley.

Contents

Byzantium had its world premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on 9 September 2012, and was released in the United Kingdom on 31 May 2013. The film received generally positive reviews.

Plot summary

In 2010, an old man, Robert Fowlds, picks up a discarded note dropped by teenage vampire Eleanor Webb, who has taken to writing her life story and then throwing the individual pages to the wind. Realising what she is, the old man invites Eleanor to his house and tells her that he is ready for death. Eleanor proceeds to kill him and consume his blood. Elsewhere, Eleanor's mother, Clara, is chased from the lap-dancing club where she has been working. Werner, a member of the vampiric Brethren, demands to know where Eleanor is and captures her after an extended chase. Clara decapitates Werner, burns his body and leaves town with her daughter.

Eleanor and Clara seek sanctuary in a dilapidated coastal resort. There, Clara sets her sights on a lonely soul named Noel, who has just inherited the Byzantium Hotel, a once-thriving business that has fallen into disrepair. Eleanor plays the piano in a restaurant and is approached by a young waiter named Frank, who takes a shine to her. Having seduced Noel, Clara turns the Byzantium into a makeshift brothel and Eleanor joins the local college which Frank also attends. Interested in her past, Frank questions Eleanor, who writes her story for him to read. Not entirely believing it, he shows it to their teacher, Kevin.

The story, revealed in a series of flashbacks over the course of the film, begins during the Napoleonic Wars, when a young Clara encounters two Royal Navy officers, Captain Ruthven and Midshipman Darvell. Much to the dismay of Darvell, Clara leaves with Ruthven, who forces her into prostitution after raping her. When Eleanor is born in 1804, Clara leaves her at a private orphanage. Years later, Clara is dying of what appears to be tuberculosis when the brothel is visited by Darvell, who has become a vampire. He gives Ruthven a map to an island where people can become vampires if they are willing to die. Clara shoots Ruthven in the leg, steals the map and makes her way to the island to become a vampire. Darvell finds Clara and takes her to the Brethren, a secret society of vampires that protects the secret of vampirism.

As their members have traditionally been male nobles, they are appalled that a low-born prostitute has joined their ranks but decide to spare her life, warning her that she must abide by their code but that she may play no part in their Brotherhood. Clara, alone and desperate after her banishment, secretly visits Eleanor at night. Shortly afterwards, Clara's decision to spare Ruthven comes back to haunt her, when the vengeful, syphilis-ridden Captain turns up at Eleanor's orphanage and drags her down to the basement to rape her. Clara brutally murders him but she is too late; Eleanor is condemned to a slow, painful death. Desperate to save her daughter's life, Clara takes Eleanor to the island and has her transformed into a vampire, violating the Brethren's code. The Brethren begin hunting Clara and Eleanor.

In the 21st century, Eleanor falls in love with Frank and decides to help him turn into a vampire so they can be together, since he is dying from leukaemia. Before killing him, Clara finds out from Kevin that Eleanor has told Frank of their past. Noel is accidentally killed, falling down the lift shaft, when Clara tries to prevent Eleanor from leaving the hotel and succeeds in trapping her in the lift. While Clara is out dealing with Frank, Darvell and Savella, the Brethren's leader, posing as police, find out from Kevin's colleague Morag where Clara is and go to kill her. Clara leaves without killing Frank when she realises that Eleanor is in mortal danger.

The Brethren kidnap Eleanor and drive her to an abandoned fairground to destroy her, only to be stopped by Clara. After killing Morag, Savella battles Clara and ultimately subdues her. Savella hands Darvell his sword, which he took from Byzantium during the Crusades, so he can kill Clara. Darvell, who has always harboured feelings for Clara, kills Savella instead. On the run again, Clara leaves with Darvell while Eleanor takes a weakened Frank to the island so he can become a vampire.

Cast

Release

The film premiered at the Irish Film Institute on 28 April 2013 with director Neil Jordan in attendance. [4] It also received a red carpet screening in Hastings on 5 June 2013. [5]

The film was shown at the Glasgow Film Festival in February 2013 with Neil Jordan, Saoirse Ronan, and Gemma Arterton in attendance.[ citation needed ]

The film was released in the United Kingdom on 31 May 2013, and received a limited release in North America on 28 June 2013. [3]

Reception

Byzantium received generally positive reviews from film critics. As of June 2020, the film holds a 66% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 120 reviews with an average rating of 6.4 out of 10. The site's consensus reads: "Director Neil Jordan remains as expert as ever when it comes to setting a chilling mood, but Byzantium struggles to match its creepily alluring atmosphere with a suitably compelling story." [6] Metacritic gave the film a "generally favorable" score of 66 based on reviews from 22 sampled reviewers. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neil Jordan</span> Irish filmmaker and fiction writer

Neil Patrick Jordan is an Irish film director, screenwriter, novelist and short-story writer. His first book, Night in Tunisia, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1979. He won an Academy Award for The Crying Game (1992). He has also won three Irish Film and Television Awards, as well as the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival for Michael Collins (1996) and the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin International Film Festival for The Butcher Boy (1997).

The Vampyre 1819 short story by John William Polidori

"The Vampyre" is a short work of prose fiction written in 1819 by John William Polidori taken from the story Lord Byron told as part of a contest among Polidori, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley. The same contest produced the novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. The Vampyre is often viewed as the progenitor of the romantic vampire genre of fantasy fiction. The work is described by Christopher Frayling as "the first story successfully to fuse the disparate elements of vampirism into a coherent literary genre."

Lord Ruthven is a fictional character. First appearing in print in 1819, in John William Polidori's "The Vampyre", he was one of the first vampires in English literature. The name Ruthven was taken from Lady Caroline Lamb's Glenarvon, where it was used as an unflattering parody of Lord Byron, while the character was based on Augustus Darvell from Byron's "Fragment of a Novel". "The Vampyre" was written privately, and published without Polidori's consent, with revisions to the story made by Polidori for an unpublished second edition showing that he planned to change the name from Ruthven to Strongmore. The initial popularity of "The Vampyre" led to the character appearing in many translations and adaptations, including plays and operas, and Ruthven has continued to appear in modern works.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sam Riley</span> British actor

Samuel Peter W. Riley is an English actor and singer. He is best known for his performance in the 2007 biographical film Control about the life of Ian Curtis, as protagonist Sal Paradise in the 2012 adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road, and as Diaval in the 2014 film Maleficent. Riley received renown for his portrayal of the Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 2016 film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

<i>Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time</i> (film) 2010 American action fantasy film

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a 2010 American action fantasy film directed by Mike Newell. The film was written by Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and released by Walt Disney Pictures on May 28, 2010. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan, Gemma Arterton as Princess Tamina, Ben Kingsley as Nizam, Toby Kebbell as Garsiv and Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar. The film is an adaptation of the video game of the same name developed and published by Ubisoft. Elements from Warrior Within and The Two Thrones, the two other titles from the Sands of Time trilogy of the Prince of Persia video game franchise, are also incorporated.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saoirse Ronan</span> American-born Irish actress

Saoirse Una Ronan is an American-born Irish actress. Primarily known for her work in period dramas since adolescence, she has received various accolades, including a Golden Globe Award, in addition to nominations for four Academy Awards and five British Academy Film Awards.

<i>Anno Dracula</i> 1992 novel by Kim Newman

Anno Dracula is a 1992 novel by British writer Kim Newman, the first in the Anno Dracula series. It is an alternate history using 19th-century English historical settings and personalities, along with characters from popular fiction.

Sean Francis Bobbitt, B.S.C. is an American-born British cinematographer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gemma Arterton</span> British actress

Gemma Christina Arterton is an English actress and producer. After her stage debut in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost at the Globe Theatre (2007), Arterton made her feature film debut in the comedy St Trinian's (2007). She portrayed Bond Girl Strawberry Fields in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace (2008), a performance which won her an Empire Award for Best Newcomer.

<i>Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters</i> 2013 film by Tommy Wirkola

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a 2013 action horror film written and directed by Tommy Wirkola. It is a continuation to the German folklore fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel", in which the titular siblings are now grown up and working as a duo of witch exterminators for hire. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton in the title roles with Famke Janssen, Peter Stormare, Thomas Mann, Pihla Viitala and Derek Mears as the supporting cast.

<i>Hanna</i> (film) 2011 film by Joe Wright

Hanna is a 2011 action thriller film directed by Joe Wright. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as the title character, a girl raised in the wilderness of northern Finland by her father, an ex-CIA operative, who trains her as an assassin. Cate Blanchett portrays a senior CIA agent who tries to track down and eliminate the girl and her father. The soundtrack was written by The Chemical Brothers.

<i>How I Live Now</i> (film) 2013 romantic speculative drama film

How I Live Now is a 2013 romantic speculative drama film based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Meg Rosoff. It was directed by Kevin Macdonald, written by Tony Grisoni, Jeremy Brock and Penelope Skinner while starring Saoirse Ronan, George MacKay, Tom Holland, Harley Bird, Anna Chancellor and Corey Johnson. The film centres around American teenager, Daisy and her British cousins, Eddie, Isaac and Piper, as they try to reunite during an apocalyptic nuclear war.

Movie Talk is an Irish television programme broadcast on RTÉ One from September to November 2012. The ten part series profiled figures from the Irish film world who talk about their careers in movies.

The 11th Irish Film & Television Awards took place on Saturday 5 April 2014 in Dublin, honouring Irish film and television released in 2013. The nominations were announced on 27 February 2014. The Awards Ceremony took place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Burlington Road Dublin, and was broadcast on RTÉ One at 9.45pm. The Annual Irish Film & Television Awards are the highlight of Ireland’s entertainment and cultural calendar celebrating the very best of Irish screen talent across film and television. Guests in attendance included Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Jamie Dornan, Steve Coogan, Will Forte, Jeremy Irons, Fionnula Flanagan, Brendan Gleeson, Neil Jordan, Amy Huberman, Colm Meaney, Jack Reynor, Killian Scott, Eva Birthistle, Victoria Smurfit and Outstanding Contribution Honorary Award Winner President Michael D Higgins.

<i>Gemma Bovery</i> (film) 2014 film

Gemma Bovery is a 2014 French comedy-drama film based on Posy Simmonds' 1999 graphic novel of the same name. Directed by Anne Fontaine, the film stars Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, Mel Raido and Fabrice Luchini. The film premiered at the 2014 Festival du Film Francophone d'Angoulême on 24 August 2014, and showed in the Special Presentations section at the Toronto International Film Festival on 6 September 2014.

Elizabeth Karlsen is a British film producer. She co-founded Number 9 Films in 2002 with production partner and husband Stephen Woolley.

<i>The Girl with All the Gifts</i> (film) 2016 British film

The Girl with All the Gifts is a 2016 British post-apocalyptic science fiction horror film directed by Colm McCarthy and written by Mike Carey. Starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, and Sennia Nanua, the film depicts a dystopian future following a breakdown of society after most of humanity is wiped out by a fungal infection. The plot focuses on the struggle of a scientist, a teacher, and two soldiers who embark on a journey of survival with a special young girl named Melanie.

<i>Lady Bird</i> (film) 2017 film by Greta Gerwig

Lady Bird is a 2017 American coming-of-age comedy-drama film written and directed by Greta Gerwig in her solo directorial debut. Set in Sacramento, California from fall 2002 to fall 2003, it is a story of a high school senior and her strained relationship with her mother. The film stars Saoirse Ronan in the title role with Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, and Lois Smith in supporting roles.

<i>Mary Queen of Scots</i> (2018 film) 2018 film by Josie Rourke

Mary Queen of Scots is a 2018 historical drama film directed by Josie Rourke and with a screenplay by Beau Willimon based on John Guy's 2004 biography Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart. The film stars Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots, and Margot Robbie as her cousin Queen Elizabeth I. Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, and Guy Pearce also star in supporting roles.

<i>Ammonite</i> (film) 2020 film by Francis Lee

Ammonite is a 2020 romantic drama film written and directed by Francis Lee. The film is loosely inspired by the life of British palaeontologist Mary Anning, played by Kate Winslet. The film centres on a speculative romantic relationship between Anning and Charlotte Murchison, played by Saoirse Ronan. Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secăreanu and Fiona Shaw also star.

References

  1. "Byzantium (15)". British Board of Film Classification . 30 May 2022. Retrieved 30 May 2022.
  2. Drohan, Ciara. "Top Irish Talent Join Neil Jordan's 'Byzantium', Filming Begins". IFTN. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  3. 1 2 "Byzantium (2013) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. 8 August 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  4. Hogan, Louise (29 April 2013). "In the director's chair: injured Jordan refuses to miss Byzantium premiere". Independent.ie. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  5. "Byzantium invitation". Hastings Online Times. 5 June 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  6. "Byzantium". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  7. "Byzantium". Metacritic . CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 24 June 2013.