Interview with the Vampire
Distributed by: Geffen Pictures
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
At one time, my brother was a big Anne Rice fan. He recommended her books to me, but I wasn’t big on reading about vampires and never bothered to check them out. When Interview with the Vampire, a movie based on one of her novels, first hit the theaters, I wasn’t interested. But after seeing a bit of it on television, I became intrigued. I decided to check out the film in its entirety.
Interview with the Vampire follows the adventures of two vampires, Louis (Brad Pitt) and Lestat (Tom Cruise). This is all done in flashbacks as Louis lures a reporter (Christian Slater) to his hotel room to tell him of the loneliness, guilt, anguish, hunger and despair in the life of a vampire. He relates how he met Lestat and how his adventures with him over the centuries were both enjoyable and repulsive. Louis’ relationship with Lestat was complicated. While Louis knew that he owed Lestat his new life, he is repulsed by what that new life means for him. He detests what he has become and yet he finds himself somewhat drawn to the man who created him.
Unfortunately, things become complicated when, believing that Louis will leave him, Lestat tries to lure him back with a gift. During the time of the plague, Louis feeds upon a young orphan (Kirsten Dunst) who is still clinging to her dead mother. Lestat catches him in the act. Disgusted with himself, Louis leaves, but Lestat discovers that the girl is alive and brings her home. He “saves” her by turning her into a vampire, a forbidden act among vampires as she is considered too young. Lestat is wholly unprepared for what having a child vampire around actually means. And when that child discovers just what was done to her and the life she is doomed to lead, she lashes out at her creators.
I’m not sure what it is about this movie that drew me to it. I seem to like television series and movies that span over generations. I used to love watching Highlander, a television series about an immortal who spent his life fighting off other immortals who wanted his power. The show spanned generations and showed, through flashbacks, how he survived all these years and the various adventures that became him. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Interview with the Vampire. I liked watching Louis and Lestat as they traveled together through the centuries and adapted to the nuances of the times.
I found it interesting that these particular vampires did not subscribe to any of the old myths. They can actually see their reflection, they can’t be killed with stakes through the heart, can’t be warded off by crucifixes, can’t be kept away through the use of garlic or holy water. No, many of the old myths do not apply to Ann Rice’s vampires. However, some things still hold true - they sleep in coffins and exposure to light will kill them. I also found it interesting that the powers the vampires possess in this film are not universal. Although they grow stronger the more they feed, some vampires can read thoughts, others have a swiftness of movement, etc. As they explain in the film, the transition from human to vampire is different for everyone.
As I watched the film, I realized something that Louis discovers much too late - the reporter he has chosen is not the right person to tell his story to. Yes, he is interested in Louis’ tale, but not repulsed. In fact, he is fascinated by it. Although meant to be a warning for humanity, Louis’ message unfortunately means something else to this reporter. The longer it takes for Louis to tell his story, the more fascinated with the tale the reporter comes, completely missing the message behind it. I think that happens all too often in life. Authors weave a story as a message to their readers, only to have it distorted in that readers’ mind as they pay to much attention to the story at face value and not to its underlying meaning.
I have to say that the actors in this film did an amazing job. I’m not a big Tom Cruise fan, and I had heard that Anne Rice had not initially been pleased with his selection for the role of Lestat, but I can honestly say that he seemed to be just the right fit for the role. He had a very good understanding of the character - a good feeling for the desperate loneliness he felt which sometimes showed itself in sharp-tongued retorts. Cruise also was able to inject some humor into the character so he doesn’t seem completely evil. Okay, so some of the humor is morbid, but wouldn’t you expect that from a vampire? Brad Pitt represented Louis with such emotion. You could visibly see the anguish and despair Louis feels at what he has become on his face in every single scene. And Kirsten Dunst…you just wanted to put her over your knee and spank her, but I did feel sorry for her eventually.
The DVD version of this film contains a behind the scenes documentary called In the Shadow of the Vampire in which the creation of the film in all of its aspects are discussed. It amazed me to discover that the novel that inspired this film was written in the 1970s and that the making of this film had been bandied around for twenty years before it finally came to fruition. The documentary features interviews with Anne Rice, the director Neil Jordan, special effects artist Stan Winston, actors Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas and more. I found the documentary to be very enlightening as to the special effects and the intricacies of the characters as well as how the novel came to be in the first place.
All-in-all, Interview with the Vampire is an enjoyable film filled with drama and intrigue. There are some rather bloody scenes and a great deal of eroticism to be had in this film, so it is not for young children or the faint of heart. However, I found the acting in this film to be incredibly dramatic and believable, the effects to be seamless and the storyline incredibly interesting. For all these reasons and more, I find myself wanting to read the novel that started it all…isn’t that what a good film adaptation is supposed to do?