Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Defending Byzantium- A Tribeca 2013 Essay (This does have potential spoilers)

I’m in a weird position in that I’ve been taking a great deal of heat for liking Byzantium as much as I do. Several of my fellow reviewers have tried to talk me off the ledge and getting me to come back into the building. The thing is I think they are seeing it all wrong and I think I’m the one inside and they are on the ledge.

The criticism on their part comes from two main areas. First they have compared it to Being Human the show on SYFY and the BBC. Not having seen the show I cannot comment on that. I suspect that the comparison is due to the film being less about horrific things then about the characters as people. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. I like that the film wasn’t a typical horror film, or even really a horror film at all. It’s about people who are vampires. Had the same story been told about gangsters no one would have said boo (pun intended). As I said in the review the film was liked most by people who knew the least going in.

The other major criticism concerns the naiveté of the Eleanor  character. They ask why, despite being 216 plus years old does she still act as a teenager and as sheltered? I suspect the reasoning comes from three areas. First her cover is that of a young girl, so of course she is going to stay “young”. Second she is being sheltered by her mother who is insisting are keeping her in a subservient role. As Clara tells her several times, I’m going to keep you out of it, or you don’t need to know. She doesn’t know because she both is being kept out of it and doesn’t chose to know…on the other hand as the scene where she puts the teacher in her place reveals she’s more than capable on her own. Actually many actions on her part how she goes off at the end (you’ll forgive me for not being detailed it’s been over two weeks since I’ve seen the film) reveal that she can. And as for stumbling through love, I don’t know anyone who stumbles through their first romance, regardless of their age.

My suggestion is watch the film again and really watch the Eleanor. She knows way more than you think she does, she’s just living with a bunker mentality and is simply trying to survive.

Most of the other criticisms are minor things owing to small choices that are more nitpicking than serious reasons for the film not to work. They are really not worth arguing. As for those complaining about the red waterfall- okay you believe there is an island no one knows off the coast of Ireland where a god lives, but you can’t accept that the red water fall that results from the sating of the gods thirst?

I don’t care what anyone says this is a great movie you just have to take it on its own terms and really look at who and what the characters are doing.

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