A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

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We are warmly recommending you to see this movie, a tribute to movies we love, a neo-noir western graphic novel style vampire horror-romance in black and white.

First of all this film is an homage to film itself. Ana Lily Amirpour s debut film celebrates the big moments of cinematic history. From early black and white silent film, expressionism, film noir, the detective, vampire and the horror genre, the divas in the early Hollywood era, horror movies to nouvelle vague and contemporary independent film makers, all of them are resonating in “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”, with a big nod to Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino and not-to-forget, the 2000s popular culture hit, the graphic novel, with Persepolis leading the way.

 

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Strangers Alone At Night

In beautiful contrasted black white pictures like in graphic novels, slow pictures, a strong soundtrack and with very little dialogue we are introduced to a nameless oriental small town and a girl in a chador walking through this nameless ghostly small-town and watching their outcast inhabitants, mainly male misfit characters.

First we see the James Dean – like young man, who is walking down the streets with cigarette in mouth and respected by the others due to his hard-earned vintage car. There is “James Dean’”s father, a drug-addicted shattered old man, who is vegging out lonely and lost, just waiting for the next shot, brought by his son. There is a begging young boy out alone on the streets and a mysterious transvestite ballet dancer with a sparkling fringed cowboy jacket dancing obscurely with a balloon.

 

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We meet the well characterized town’s pimp, a dealer with ridiculous tattoos like “SEX” on his throat, an oversized golden pendulum necklace and sunglasses and we get introduced to the beautiful, but sad woman who offers sexual services in this town. And the high society girl who is disrespects the rules on how to behave as a young unmarried woman towards men and tries to escape with drugs and parties.

A Vampiress Apears

The vampire-girl appears in the long black chador, moving like a floating ghost, but also like in a super-hero-cape, suddenly ripping up and sucking out the evil men as revenge for their misbehaviour and misogyny.

But we also see the mysterious young woman in private, putting down her black “cape” at home, revealing very normal home activities of girls everywhere in the world: Listening to music on vinyl, dancing alone in her room, putting on make-up or having a melancholic bath. Picking up a boy’s skateboard and rolling through the deserted town with her cape, make her seem even more like a superheroine.

 

A Dangerous Romance

But actually the reticent girl with the big sad deer’s eyes is not that cold-blooded as it seems in the beginning. A nearly wordless romance arises of the mute sympathy between the vampire girl and the young man, when she finds him confused and disoriented in the unknown streets of “Bad City”, dressed like Dracula on the way home after a costume ball. Vampiress meets Dracula.

A dangerous romance begins –  can the bad girl stop her blood-thirst for her love?

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Also we have a very sympathetic cat playing a not to be underestimated role in the storyline, being a special companion to the characters and becoming sort of a soulmate to the vampire girl.

 

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A Girl is Walking Home Alone At Night is full of cinematic and pop cultural references. It is playing in a non-existent set-up ghost-town, like the Italian spaghetti western, which is though full of little details, symbols and a great set-design. The story is set in an imaginary place, not in Iran, not in the USA, “Bad City” is like “Sin City” a place made up in someone’s mind. The story is set also out of time. There are elements of many periods of time, like the car from the 50s, the 90’s retro lo-fi techno music, old posters but a new vinyl – the timelessness of a vampire’s life.

The Sound of Bad City

Music is an important aspect in this story that is told with rather few Persian words, but with big images. The soundtrack is a mix of Persian pop, disco and rock music, apocalyptic Morricone style instrumental music, traditional Persian music and contemporary indie music.

The soundtrack has been released today! Luckily the official soundtrack was released already online on the official youtube channel of the O.S.T.

The soundtrack has been released today! Luckily the official soundtrack was released already online on the official youtube channel of the O.S.T.

Check out the full playlist  here.

The Backstory Of The Girl

Actually there is more to reveal than these few days of the life of the yet nameless vampire girl. Ami Lily Amirpour created her back story in many details and evolved many stories about her, have in mind that her vampire’s life has more than 187 years to count.

This is why she decided to release a comic series with illustrations by graphic novels talent Michael DeWeese, the first of them is released with the DVD/Blu-Ray. Can’t wait to discover it!

Political and feminist tendencies

This movie is playing with expectations in many ways. Tendencies tha the director didn’t write into this film intentionally, but one that the spectator can read out of it. The film is turning around the title’s implication and the readers expectation: a girl who is out alone must be scared, because she may be in danger, alone in the night outside she could be raped, has to be aware not to provoke any approach by men with her appearance: no, it’s not at all about that.

 

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It’s the opposite. The girl is a woman dressed in by western society mystically felt chador (the Persian long coat), hiding her identity and walking around ghostlike and with no fear. The young woman in the dress acts as a symbol for all the presumptions associated with it. It makes fun of some people’s prejudgments and fears.

The mystery of the Islamic female, her hidden desires and the assumed social constraint to shroud herself in the chador. It points at the prejudgment and fears people have about Muslims and Muslim women. Making a woman in a chador a blood sucking killer plays with the image of the Muslim as an exotic not understood species, a potential terrorist or possible bombs hidden under the chador of a suicide assassin.

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It is a treat how the imagery (unintended by the director though) ironizes these implications and instead creates an idealistic feminist fantasy heroine film. It is the revenge of the strong, bloodthirsty young seductive and beautiful vampire-girl and it has been a while since the last female vigilante captured the screens that convincing. (Beatrix Kiddo?)

The director Ana Lily Amirpour who was born in England to Iranian parents and grew up in California went to film school in San Francisco. To find out about her influences, love for music and loneliness check out these useful links for interviews and more.

official website

video interview

about the soundtrack

The Gawker interview

The Mary Sue

Filmcomment

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