Among the recent spate of independent vampire films, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive uniquely depicts vampires whose immortality is under threat in a world tainted by environmental toxins. Facing their mortality as we humans face our own extinction, Adam and Eve are vampires of the Anthropocene. Only Lovers was often dismissed by critics as easy on substantial ideas and heavy on seductive sheen, and yet the film deftly deploys the vampire trope to explore enduring attachments, as well as endangered and endangering ways of life. Set in Detroit and Tangier, Jarmusch’s film tracks the roaming romance of his vampires, Adam and Eve, who are both cultured cosmopolitans and endangered species seeking refuge in an increasingly uninhabitable world. Adam and Eve keep alive forms of intimacy and aesthetic appreciation on the verge of extinction even as they adapt to ecological crises by adopting twenty-first-century modes of global consumption. Jarmusch strikes a careful balance between his characters’ complicity with and critique of the world they feed on. In the end the film is about survival and a white Euro-American hegemony that refuses to die.
Research Article| December 01 2019
Joanna Mansbridge; Endangered Vampires of the Anthropocene: Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive and the Ecology of Romance. Genre 1 December 2019; 52 (3): 207–228. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00166928-7965805
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