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Wednesday 25 April 2018

Sailing to Byzantium

Will Lawrence

A tour of Neil Jordan's latest fantasy-infused realm ...

• Along with We're No Angels, An Interview with the Vampire and The Brave One, Byzantium is a rare piece in that is it directed but not written by Jordan

• The title is inspired by the Yeats poems Byzantium and Sailing to Byzantium, the latter also firing Cormac McCarthy's imagination with its line: 'That is no country for old men'

• Byron's unfinished vampire story telling of Augustus Darvell, published as A Fragment in 1819, provides the inspiration for the character of Darvell (played by Sam Riley) in the film

• The character of Ruthven in the film (played by Jonny Lee Miller), meanwhile, is inspired by the lead character in the John William Polidori novella The Vampyre, also published in 1819, which is said to be based on the Byron fragment

• Author Moira Buffini originally wrote the play to be performed by teenagers until The Company of Wolves producer Stephen Woolley saw a performance at the Bristol Youth Theatre and commissioned an adaptation for the big screen

• Woolley cites Daughters of Darkness, a 1971 film by director Harry Kümel, as another memorable mother-daughter vampire picture

• The word 'vampire' is never used in the film. The immortals refer to themselves as soucriants, but they display a number of vampire traits – like drinking blood

• When they need to feed, the soucriants' thumbnail grows into a handy, neck-splicing talon. Jordan employed a similar device for the Tom Cruise's character in Interview with the Vampire

Irish Independent

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