Byzantium (2012) Poster

(2012)

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  • Soucriants (vampires) Clara (Gemma Arterton) and Eleanor "Ella" Webb (Saoirse Ronan) seek shelter at the Byzantium Hotel, a once-thriving coastal hotel now run down and dilapidated by inept owner Noel (Daniel Mays) after the death of his mum. While Clara works to change the hotel into a successful brothel, 16-year-old Ella confides to her new friend Frank (Caleb Landry Jones) the story of how she and Clara became vampires. However, Frank shares the story with Ella's writing teacher Kevin Minton (Tom Hollander), who shares the story with the school counselor Morag (Maria Doyle Kennedy), who shares the story with two policemen, Darvell (Sam Riley) and Savilla (Uri Gavriel), who are actually from a males-only vampire brotherhood that is looking to destroy Clara and Ella as "aberrations."

  • Byzantium is based on a 2008 young adult play, A Vampire Story, by English dramatist Moira Buffini. Buffini adapted the play for the film.

  • Female vampires are not allowed in the males-only vampire brotherhood. Nor are they allowed to make new vampires. Clara defied that tradition by stealing the secret from Captain Ruthven (Jonny Lee Miller) and then using it to turn Ella. Add to that the fact that Clara works as a whore, both she and Ella are seen as aberrations by the hierarchy.

  • A soucriant, also called soucouyant or loogaroo, is a type of vampire witch from Caribbean folklore who is said to live as an old woman during the day but to slough off her skin and turn into a fireball at night in order to fly through the air and sneak into the houses of sleeping individuals in order to suck their blood. Clara and Ella call themselves "soucriants" but don't slough off their skin or turn into fireballs. In the context of the movie, the term "soucriant" refers mostly to a vampire witch.

  • The film does not name or even suggest a father. Her mother was a prostitute and it could be mostly anyone, including Ruthven, but it's not important to the plot.

  • Clara was dying of consumption (tuberculosis), and she felt that becoming a vampire would extend her life. Consequently, when Darvell offers the gift to Ruthven, Clara shoots Ruthven and steals the map.

  • Like Clara, Darvell was dying from something he caught during the war, probably pneumonia, and the brotherhood offered him a chance at eternal life, so he took it.

  • Ruthven raped Ella and, being frought with syphillis, he passed on the disease to her, even flicking a coin at her and saying 'Now you will die a slow death.' Clara wanted to spare Ella from an agonizing syphilis death.

  • The scenes are from Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) (1966), Hammer Studios' second film starring Christopher Lee as Dracula.

  • One of the biggest complaints about this movie is that it's hard to follow the current story as well as all the flashbacks. In a nutshell, here's what happened. Two hundred years ago, during the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars, Clara Webb, while picking up cockle shells on a beach, was discovered by Captain Ruthven and Lieutenant Darvell and taken by Ruthven, against Darvell's wishes, to a brothel. In 1804, Clara got pregnant and delivered a baby girl whom she gave away to a convent rather than murder her, as the brothel madam demanded. Working as a whore, Clara eventually became infected with syphilis and knew that her days were limited. When Ruthven also fell ill with syphilis, Darvell brought the secret of immortal life to him, but Clara shot Ruthven, stole the secret, and used it to save herself. She then went looking for her daughter. When she discovered that Ella had been raped by Ruthven and infected with syphilis, she shared the secret with her. The rest of the movie is set in the present, 200 years later.

  • It's not a secret to the viewers, only to anyone not of the brotherhood. The secret is a shrine that has healing powers and is located in a cave on a barren island. The ill person goes into the shrine and meets a 'nameless saint' that looks like him (or her). The doppleganger kills him. Hundreds of blackbirds (or possibly bats) emerge from the cave and the waterfalls on the hills flow red. Later, the newly-created vampire emerges, bloody but alive.

  • While Eleanor is trapped in the elevator, Clara goes to see Frank, intent on killing him because he knows their secret. She is stopped, however, when she intercepts a phone call from Ella and realizes that Morag has led Darvell and Savilla to the hotel. Clara races back to the hotel but the three of them have already taken Ella away in the car. Ella realizes that both Darvell and Savilla are vampires just as Clara leaps on the car and pleads with Darvell to let Ella go. When Morag questions where they're taking Ella (because they've already driven past both the police station and the hospital), Savilla breaks her neck. Savilla goes looking for Clara, whom he has managed to knock off the car, while Darvell stays with Ella, complimenting her for taking only those who are ready to die but explaining that Clara cannot be allowed to live. Darvell then goes looking for Savilla and Clara. Darvell and Savilla manage to capture Clara, and Savilla sends Darvell to bring the sword for her beheading. After Clara reminds Darvell about the pearl, he swings the sword but decapitates Savilla instead. Realizing that they're both going to be hunted down in the future by the brotherhood, Darvell burns the car and Savilla's body. Later, Clara informs Ella that she's cutting her loose and then she and Darvell walk away together. In the final scene, Eleanor leads Frank to the island. The birds fly off, and the waterfalls turn red.

  • Hard to tell. Viewers suggest that he either may have been attracted to Clara when he and Ruthven met her on the beach or that he may have felt guilty for letting Ruthven take her to the whorehouse. What is certain is that he cared about her and Ella and followed them over the years so that he would be there to help when the brotherhood finally caught up with them.

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