Interview with the Vampire

[This review includes spoilers.]

Lestat: "God kills indiscriminately. And so shall we."

I was a huge fan of Anne Rice's vampire books back in the day, and when this movie was released, I expected the worst. I was wrong. Interview is an excellent adaptation of Anne Rice's novel. Everything I loved in the book is also in the movie.

A vampire with a soul

Louis (Brad Pitt) is a young widower who longs for death. I've always loved the early scene when he actually opens his shirt to his attacker; it's a perfect character moment. Louis cannot accept what he becomes, and is eternally tormented by his own nature... although it's interesting that he is outright suicidal as a human, but not as a vampire, when all he would have to do to end it all is walk outside during daylight. Louis wants vampire life to be elevated, intellectual. He doesn't want to be a killer or a monster. He wants to find meaning in love, and he cannot love Lestat.

This is Brad Pitt's movie. Louis in the books is a tortured soul who is so physically and emotionally beautiful that everyone wants him. Brad Pitt manages to do this in every frame of this movie. In my opinion, he nailed it.

A vampire with an attitude

Lestat is my favorite vampire in literature. In this movie, he appears to love what he is; he even literally dances with death. And yet, he says more than once that he was turned against his will, implying that it is something he never would have chosen. We also get hints throughout that Louis's story is slanted. It's tantalizing.

Tom Cruise is never my first choice for any role, especially that of a character I love as much as I love Lestat. But he did acquit himself well. (Except for his appalling French pronunciation. Seriously, Tom. Mon dew? Chewrie?) I've always assumed that Tom Cruise was cast as Lestat because of the sequels we didn't get. Interview is about Louis, but Lestat is the main character of the following few books.

(And that was a smart choice by Rice, by the way. There is so much more to Lestat than what Louis sees; it's just too bad that we never got to see it on the screen. The Queen of the Damned sequel didn't star Cruise, and didn't do the books justice.)

Why is Lestat so obsessed with Louis? Clearly, even a vampire so in tune with his predatory nature needs love and companionship. Rice's vampires are androgynous, seductive, romantically possessive even though they don't have sex. The eroticism is centered around drinking blood. All they care about is blood, and each other.

A vampire who will never grow up

Lestat creates Claudia to save his "marriage" to Louis, just like a troubled couple having a baby for the wrong reasons. Louis and Claudia are almost like Lestat's abused wife and battered child. Claudia becomes a parody of her human self, victimizing humans by acting like a lost, helpless child; she and Lestat kill together, again as a parody of a real family, like a father taking his son out hunting in the woods.


Kirsten Dunst, only eleven years old at the time, did exceptional work as Claudia, who was only five in the book. It's doubtful that any actress young enough to pass for five could pull off a character as complicated and adult as Claudia. It was smart of Neil Jordan to make Claudia a little older in order to cast the perfect actress.

Interview was Anne Rice's first book, and arguably her best. Interestingly, and tragically, it was written after the death of her five year old daughter from leukemia. When this correlation was pointed out to her, Rice was reportedly surprised, and said it wasn't intentional.

A vampire movie with depth

The story and the characters are special, but that's not all. Neil Jordan created such a beautiful movie. The actors, the dialogue, the plantation, Paris, the costumes and make-up -- it's just stunning. And the symbolism is marvelous. The flight into the air as Louis ascends into godhood. The dead crawfish on the floor. The sex-as-death scene with the two prostitutes and the coffin. Claudia's dolls. Louis' obsession with sunrise.

I always liked the first part of the movie more than the second. I'm all about the twisted family life. The European adventure and the Theatre des Vampires always loses me a bit. I tend to skip ahead emotionally to Louis' rampage in the crypt, which is also beautifully filmed. It is Louis facing the loss of Claudia head-on, and finally accepting himself as the vampire he is.

Bits and pieces

-- The best lines from the book were also in the movie. Not a surprise, since Anne Rice also wrote the screenplay.

-- When someone becomes an Anne Rice vamp, they immediately become gorgeous. Like the super immortal hair styling for Claudia. Only better, because it lasts forever.

-- Lestat can read minds, but Louis cannot. The gift varies.

-- Lestat's irritation with Louis's despair becomes quite funny. ("Still whining, Louis!")

-- River Phoenix was originally cast as the interviewer. After his untimely death at the age of 23, Christian Slater took over the part.

-- There's only one thing about this movie that I don't like, and that's Antonio Banderas' immense head of black hair. What were they thinking? Armand in the movie is also nothing like Armand in the books. I like Antonio Banderas, but this was disappointing.

Quotes

Lestat: "Evildoers are easier. And they taste better." This is interesting. Because aren't criminals who are always aware of evil intentions harder to kill? Why would they be easier? This is a major clue that Lestat isn't as evil as Louis sees him.

Lestat: "They all go to heaven."
Louis: "All but us."

Lestat: "Claudia! What have we told you?"
Claudia: (chastened) "Never in the house."

Louis: "Vampires pretending to be human pretending to be vampires."
Claudia: "How avant-garde."

There are several television series about vampires that I love, but Interview is the only vampire movie I've seen numerous times. Four out of four rats and poodles,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

14 comments:

10^100 o+ with no hair said...

Hmm, to switch the mood, I hope...

Well I for one really enjoy this movie every time I see it. (in fact, it's one of the few vampire movies I own, if not the only one) I particularly like Claudia. And her glam hair.

I also like the way in which you separated your review for each character, Billie!

Poor Antonio...


I'm sorry if this got posted twice, I went for modifications...

Billie Doux said...

I love your handle, 10^100 0+ with no hair. But I have no idea what it means. :)

Lica said...

I have something to confess. I like vampire stories a lot (Buffy fan here, not Twilight, lol), but I've only seen this movie once. I was a teen (maybe fourteen or fifteen) and Brad Pitt was a heartthrob back then, and I've watched it for the wrong reason (can you blame me?). I was young and probably didn't get most of the movie. I remember parts of it, though, and Claudia really marked me (imagine seeing it while you're still growing up), so I've never gave it a second chance. But after reading your review I feel like I need to see this movie again! So, in a way, I'm glad you're sharing this review with us in Vampire Month!

10^100 o+ with no hair said...

Haha, thanks!

Google (10^100 is a gogol, the word Google was mispelled from)
Girl (o+)
with no hair (I shaved my hair two weeks ago)

And I did check. The only other vampire movie I own is... Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl!

Juliette said...

I'm going to have to see this movie again - and read the book. I was a bit disappointed with Pandora, but suspect this one is better.

(On the subject of who to blame for Twilight, by the way - which I like, in it's way, but the sparkling is too much - I just started reading the first Sookie Stackhouse book and... they glow... Charlaine, don't go there! ;) )

On another subject entirely, I've been giving out Irresistably Sweet Blog Awards at Pop Classics (www.popclassicsjg.blogspot.com), and gave you one :)

Billie Doux said...

Is that you, Google Girl?

10^100 o+ (Google Girl) with no hair said...

Yes, Billie... I'm sorry, I'm fickle and don't like using the same username all the time!

Hmm, now I feel like watching Interview with the Vampire tonight...

Billie Doux said...

Google Girl, you always make me smile. And you can call yourself anything you want. :)

10^100 o+ with no hair said...

That is a very nice thing to say and I am glad if it's the case^^

haha, now I've ran out of things to say about the movie and the review, so I won't come back before 3 weeks! (also because I will be gone on vacation) Looking forward for all the new reviews when I come back!

Dr. Alice said...

I was an Anne Rice fan also (well, the earlier books - the later ones got a little out there for me). Like you, I was afraid this movie wouldn't do the book justice, but it SO DID! Like you said, they managed to hit all the notes that made the book such a hit. I love this movie and can watch it again and again (and have - and can quote many scenes.. haha). And the male eye candy certainly didn't hurt. :)

I don't know if anyone can blame Anne Rice for sparkly vampires. After all, vampires have been sexy and classic for about 100 years in literature and film. The reason Interview was so popular was that she gave a human perspective to becoming a vampire with Louis. How would you respond to being changed? Would you instantly become a killer or head for the rats? I think struggle is what grabbed a lot of people. Couple that with the family aspects you point out and you have a classic story.

Stephanie Meyer also has a classic story on her hands, but for a much younger audience. It has its merits, but the two worlds really can't be compared. The target audience is completely different.

Thanks for the review! I always enjoy your input. :)

Purple Duck said...

Its really hard to pin the Twilight thing on Rice, although I agree that they are related takes. The thing is that vampires as we have known them are essentially about forbidden romance going all the way back to Lord Byron in the mid-nineteenth century when it was all about Gentlemen friends. Prior to that the vampire was just a restless ghost without even having a real form.

I actually think True Blood and Twilight make wonderful bookends for the vampire these days. Transgressive sex and love is either abstinence or extraordinary violence in the case of True Blood. Frankly, it makes Louis and Lestat seem tame by comparison, although the love of Claudia is also pretty transgressive (which makes me think of "Let the Right One In", but now I am just rambling)

Victor said...

Although I loved Dunst's performance (what went wrong? She was so talented) I found Cruise and Pitt to be very annoying when I saw this film. But I was watching it late at night and it was about 10 years ago. Your review has inspired me to give it a second chance.

Diogo said...

For me, it's the best vampire movie of all time, and one of my favorite films. Seriously,for some reason it's only when Tom Cruise plays an asshole(say "Collateral" or "Tropic Thunder") that I absolutely love him!

Samuel Shirley said...

As far as evildoers being easier, LeStat wasn't referring to them being physically easier to subdue and kill. He was referring to the fact that, for Louis, being a very moral being, it would be easier to kill evildoers because they are more deserving of death than others are.

I saw this movie again this weekend for the first time in years. I really enjoyed it. It is a classic story. The music was also wonderful. Especially their version of Libre Me. However, I could have done without Guns N' Roses at the end.