‘Byzantium’ Trailer: Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton are Vampires On the Run

Published 2 years ago by

Byzantium is an exploration of symbolic folklore and horror-fantasy from Oscar-winner Neil Jordan, the filmmaker behind The Company of Wolves, Interview with the Vampire, In Dreams and Ondine. The film’s still waiting to receive an official U.S. release date; however, in the meantime, an international trailer has released online.

Oscar-nominee Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, The Host) and Gemma Arterton (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) headline as Eleanor and Clara Webb, two mystery women who appear to be sisters when they arrive seeking refuge at a deteriorating coastal resort. Once Eleanor befriends Frank (Caleb Landry Jones, X-Men: First Class), she reveals the truth: the pair are centuries-old vampires, with a history of surviving on human blood that’s about to catch up on them.

As far as trailer footage is concerned: Byzantium is visually-lush and captures the chilling, yet gorgeous, atmosphere of Ireland’s coastal areas – where the majority of filming took place (though, the actual setting is the English seaside) – through excellent cinematography from Sean Bobbitt (Shame, The Place Beyond the Pines). Unfolding events possess a sense of melancholy similar to Jordan’s work on Ondine, yet it’s more enthralling and creepy, thanks to those vampire story elements.

Scripting duties were handled by Moira Buffini, who previously adapted the graphic novel Tamara Drewe (also starring Arterton) and penned director Cary Fukunaga’s especially gloomy and Gothic take on Jane Eyre. Byzantium seems to be tackling familiar themes of vampire lore about the high price of immortality, but also ideas about the enduring nature of misogyny throughout history (as explored through both the real world and vampire society). That particular quality sets Jordan’s film apart from other recent additions to the genre – and makes this vampire picture seem all the more intriguing, by comparison.


byzantium poster 570x835 Byzantium Trailer: Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton are Vampires On the Run

The Byzantium supporting cast includes Jonny Lee Miller (Elementary), Sam Riley (On the Road) and Tom Hollander (Hanna). Meanwhile, the film’s production design was handled by Emmy-nominee Simon Elliott (The Iron Lady) and score composed by Oscar-nominee Javier Navarrete (The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth).


We will let you know when Byzantium secures an official U.S. release date.

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Byzantium
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  1. Although I believe it was mostly filmed in Ireland, the setting is an English seaside town.

    • Good point, I’ll add a mention of that.


  2. I’ve kind of grown tired of vampire movies but this looks really good!

    It seems fresh and intriguing with the cast a huge selling point, some great English actors, i think Saoirse Ronan is also awesome in everything she does

    • I agree, it surprisingly looks interesting. Gemma Arterton looks great in it also. :)

      • It reminds me of Let the Right One In, which was also a good take on the vampire movie

        • The screenwriter was inspired by Let the Right One In so that’s why it shares the atmospheric tone.

    • I myself have grown quite tired of the vampire movies. They do seem all basically the same as of late…biologically young vampires who, despite their long life, still act like adolescents with tortured souls, and although they (the main characters) don’t want to feed on human blood, they inevitably do so because they can’t bring themselves to end their miserable existence. Y-a-w-n.

  3. This looks good, I’ll definitely give this one a look. With all the Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Twilight type dreck out there you forget that vampires can be quality and entertaining movies.

    • Usually if a vampire movie is just gore for gore’s sake, has an ov er-riding sexual element in it, or are mkissy-bitey teenager flicks, I will not bothr to waste my time with it. I might consider giving this one a peek once it becomes available on Netflix–I’ll keep it in mind. I like a *good* vampire flick (altho those are few and far between), but they seem to be in short supply. Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Christopher Lee in Horror of Dracula, Jonathan Frid in House of Dark Shadows, The Night Stalker with Darren McGaven, Jack Palance in Dan Curtis’ Dracula version..these are all pretty good in my book. I sat through the first Blade, but it did not do it for me. Priest was watchable, and there might be a couple others (what was the one with an actor by the name of Woods…was that a John Carpenter movie called Vampires that I seem to recall as somewhat watchable??). Generally modern vampire flicks leave me cold. But we will see with this one.

  4. Arterton gets more work than her talent deserves. :-:

    • Hmmm vampire movie with Arterton in it… No thanks…

      Oh Saoirse Ronan in this movie….SOLD!

    • Any bad movie she’s been in hasn,t been bad because of her. She was great in “Tamara Drewe”. Besides, many movie stars only have careers becaue of the beautiful looks. She can act fine.


      • I disagree. I find her “acting” quite distracting. It’s precisely because I can tell that she’s acting that makes her performances so jarring. She’s the female equivalent of Keanu Reeves.

        • Sorry, I just don’t see it.

          (maybe I’m just blinded by her pretty face.)

    • Looks like hers can get you pretty far in Hollywood.

      • Suits me fine. (^-^)

  5. If this turns out to be good, I will have a new respect for Gemma Arterton.

  6. How come they are all out in the daylight? Are the just vampires because they drink blood? No more lore based vamps then? Maybe they should sparkle…

    • In the old school lore, vampires could walk during the day. The modern interpretation of vampires comes from movies like “Nosferatu”. Old school vampires could live during the day, but then again old school vampires tend to be reanimated pale unclean emaciated corpses… but personally i like the idea of day walking vampires, that way humans are never safe from them.

      • This is correct, iirc, vampires from eastern European and Russian folklore could survive in daylight and blend in with humanity. Dracula, in literature, was able to live in daylight, albeit in a weaker state with a lack of some powers. Nosferatu is just such an old (and silent) movie that no one remembers anything from before it, I think. The established daylight destroying vampires is just a plot/story vehicle.

        • I think the sunlight idea was an incorrect interpretation brought about by the riming and silence of the film. In Herzog’s Nosferatu Isabelle Adjani defeats him with her selflessness by keeping him busy until dawn. It seems the sun kills him but there is a larger conflict happening, in which he’s defeated. Nosferatu means plague-bringer and going back even to Sophocles, blights were the result of evil intent. Boo.

          • riming = timing

  7. I’m a sucker for vampire movies and this looks interesting, but I have to agree with Jeff: what’s the deal with all those daylight vampires lately?

  8. Set in an English Seaside town, (partially) filmed in an English seaside town… MY English seaside town… Hastings, East Sussex.

    It never looked so good! :o)

  9. Did i miss something? Are they sisters cause she refers to her as her mother!!

    • Ha, true, I’ll explain: I believe Arterton is Ronan’s vampire mother (as in, the one who sired her), but the actresses are close enough in age that the characters look like they could be sisters.

      • “…characters look like they could be sisters.”

        Physically, they look nothing alike. No one’s going to buy that argument.

        • Ah ok, so the sister thing is what you actually think. Its nothing official or is in the synopsis.

          • Why does it matter if it’s just the posters thoughts or is actually part of the plot?

            Not sure if IMDB has changed the synopsis, but it was mentioned that both leads act as sisters. Whether that’s true or not is up in the air.

        • You’d be surprised how watching the movie changes that. I think it’s safe to say that their ages are never given – Arterton could be played as Ronan’s older sister. Fair game.

      • Maybe they just tell people they are sisters because they don’t look old enough to be mother and daughter, because of the not aging thing?

      • Ronan states that ” [her] mother spared her life when she was born.” i assume that since Arterton is a female vampire on the run, that she at one point got knocked up, had her kid (Ronan) and kept running with her in tow. The reason they look so similar in age is because i’m thinking that these are all biological vampires who may or may not be able to sire others (they make mention of how all vampires are male and that Arterton is an aberration). However, i believe that Arterton is biologically Ronan’s mother ( i could be wrong) but i think it’d be a stronger narrative if Ronan’s character was born into vampirism, discovers that she possesses an underlying humanity that was never taught to her and has to struggle between does she leave her mother to her own devices (with all the guilt that comes with abandoning someone who has sacrificed a lot for you) or if she’ll stay with her.

        • Also, i think they stop aging after a while so they’d need to lie and say their sisters even though they are mother and daughter.

  10. The Louis Jordan Dracula movie was shot on some locations from the novel in England and it looked pretty good.
    I don’t mind another vampire movie as long as it isn’t gajillions of bloodsuckers vs a few remaining humans again.

  11. What I understand of the story line is that Arherton is Ronan’s biological mother but because of their closeness in age they pass themselves off as sisters. And that when Ronan was born, Arherton gave her to others to protect her from ‘The Brotherhood’, who would have killed her, but when Ronan was 16, they found her and Arherton (who was originally turned into a vampire herself by one on The Brotherhood) turned her daughter and then both went on the run and into hiding.