The three futures of Eli and Oskar

As this isnt a review of “Let the Last One In”, there’s going to have lots of spoilers after this break.

In the final scene of “Let the Last One In”, Eli the vampire is in a light-proof box tapping out in Morse code the word “kiss” to Oskar. They are on a train together. Oskar is well dressed, happy, alone and twelve. For him, the adventure is only just beginning and full of hope. For us, the audience, his future remains ambiguous.

Of all those futures that may happen the pair from that point, there are three that stand out to me.

The first is hinted at in the film itself. When Eli first appears in Oskar’s life, she is accompanied by a man in his forties. He looks after her, kills for her and cowers before her like a dog when she rages at him. All the way through, the love in his ravaged eyes is as constant as the despair. When he is finally caught by the police and Eli visits him, he offers his blood to her, a final gift that she receives with little ceremony and without much grief. She has moved on by then to Oskar and by the end of the film as the boy’s fondness for her grows and is seemingly reciprocated, Oskar’s future fate begins to resemble more and more that of the older man’s.

Perhaps, in 40 or so years, Oskar too will be drained and discarded as Eli moves on in her perpetual childhood to the next boy. In the meantime, Oskar’s love for her would have changed from that of a boy with his first love to that of a man for a daughter. In the book, the older man is a peadophile but I prefer the movie’s version where there is room to read the older man as a surrogate father instead, struggling to keep his disabled child alive.

The second future follows current narrative trends in the vampire genre. The fantasy that runs strongly through the genre is the fantasy of conversion, the dream of being accepted by a vampire and transformed into one. Judging from the popularity of the genre, it’s no longer just goths and kinksters that are fascinated by the idea of becoming paler and thinner. Of all the pros of being a vampire, I’m not sure which of them forms the heart of the attraction. Is it something as simple as the fact that most vampires are now portrayed as beautiful or does it come from a fear of death and a corresponding desire for immortality?

Whatever it is, in this second future, Eli will not wait too long before she converts Oskar. By doing this, she elevates him and diminishes them both. They will both become vulnerable to daylight and other humans but at least they will share the dangers together as equals. There is something about the two of them permenantly 12 and permenantly together that is endearing but ultimately, it has the same feel of unreality and wish-fulfilment that weakens the genre.

In the third future Oskar as he grows will see Eli for what she is: a vampire, a being who not being alive can only take life, a being incapable of change. He would see through the romantic attraction behind the myth of the vampire. He would see that she would be dependent on him for the rest of his life and as he outgrows her, he would see that linking his future to hers can only doom him. And so Oskar will leave Eli, knowing that while it would hurt her, it will also save him. The thing about this future is that Eli, being perpetually and permenantly 12 will never have the ability to understand why Oskar has to leave and will only be able to see it as abandonment and betrayal.

Writing this, it occurs to me that there is after all a fourth future. One in which Eli through her relationship with Oskar, understands that she will finally and inevitably turn Oskar either into something like herself or into the older man. Her capacity to do this is also hinted at in the movie. There is a scene where Oskar cuts himself and Eli, unable to control herself, laps up the blood that has spilled on the floor.

“Run away” she snarls at him through her blood-lust and when he does not, she runs out the room instead.

So perhaps, this is the real future after all. One in which Eli transcends her nature and manages to save one person that has got so close to her. But in keeping with her true nature, I cannot help but think that in this future, she will inevitably leave him for another boy. That perhaps, this is the only way she can do it.

3 thoughts on “The three futures of Eli and Oskar

  1. I have some comments on the futures of Eli and Oskar, based on reading the book after watching the dvd. The book is quite extensive compared to the film, revealing details of most subjects.

    First: Hakan is not a past Oskar. The film leave us a couple of hints: Eli shouts “ promised to help me..” when Hakan comes home empty handed. A bit later, after killing Jocke, Hakan makes a fuss behind the curtains, and we can hear Eli says “jag måste” – “I have to” -(which is not translated in sutitles om my dvd copy). Both these conversations indicate that Eli and Hakan has not known each other for a very long time).
    The book is open on this: Hakan is a paedophile, former teacher (discovered and lost his job, without a home (burned down) and almost without his wits (just discharged from mental hospital). He has killed twice for Eli before the story starts – with limited success.
    So there is clearly not a pattern here indicating that Hakan a past Oskar. On the contrary.

    It is also a open question if Oskar can become a murderer. While he is very aggressive towards tree trunks, he backs off totally when faced with the real thing – when Eli kills Lacke. He closes the bath room door, and throws his knife away. A cunning and manipulating Eli should have noticed that. (And in the pool scene she/he kills three very good prospects (the bullies) to save a dubious one).

    Regarding the second future, the book let us learn quite a lot about Eli, and it is quite clear that she/he will not turn anyone into a vampire (the reason she breaks Jockes neck after drinking his blood). In the blood bonding scene she backs off from Oskar because that would make him a vampire. Late in the book Oskar and Eli discuss the topic, and Oskar says no thanks, something Eli understands perfectly well.

    Oskar outgrowing Eli is quite plausible – he is 40 years old this fall and Eli is still 12. Or 240. But he seems to be a real outcast, so well maybe not..

    Your fourth future is maybe not so impossible after all.
    The book touches me most the first time Eli receives unconditional sympathy (empathy?) from Oskar, when he realises she don’t get any birthday presents. She is startled and barely recognises the gesture (not remembering the last time anyone being nice to her without hidden agendas). Oskar patting her chin actually saves his life; Eli is about to attack him – in the book Jocke is killed later that evening.

    The relationship between Eli and paedophilic Hakan tells me how little Eli expects from life when the story starts. Eli need a long time to get used to the thought that anyone could love her for what she is, and she eventually becomes deeply devoted to Oskar. So to me it is evident that Eli grows a lot through the story.

  2. I enjoyed your post, but perhaps there is a fifth alternative. Since it is clear that Oskar and Eli have become devoted to each other and a loving relationship has formed, that Oskar may seek to rescue Eli from her condition. Through modern medical techniques and genetic manipulation or even by faith, her condition has dark supernatural overtones afterall.

  3. Since my last post, JAL has written an epilogue, Let The Old Dreams Die, where Oskar and Eli mix blood at the railroad station in Karlstad. They do it just after arrival, the same way as Oskar wanted to do in the basement, by cutting their hands. Indicating it is Oskar’s choice to be turned.

    As for your suggestion: I am aware of fanfiction exploring this path – with very variable outcome. Depending on whether Eli is regarded a person or a guinea pig.

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