November 10, 2010

Warning:  I talk about parts in the book that the class hasn't gotten to yet!

Interview with a Vampire
The Book Vs. the Movie

We are reading Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice this week.  Her book was published in 1974 and it was an instant classic.  Twenty years later it was released as a major motion picture and it created similar comments as the book.  Many would agree that overall the book and movie are very similar.  People expect parts of the book to be left out when adapted for a film; it is simply too difficult to fit every detail of the book into the movie.  While many of the scenes/events in the book and movie are similar I find that the biggest differences between the two lie in the characters.
I saw the movie Interview with a Vampire many times before I read the book and it has always been one of my favorites.  When I read the book, even though it follows along well with the movie, the characters came as quite a shock.  In the movie the three main characters, Louis, Lestat and Claudia, either have a somewhat unclear purpose or a different one altogether.  I want to explore those differences among the three characters in more detail.

I would consider Claudia's character (played by Kirsten Dunst in the movie) to have transposed from book to movie the best.  The main difference I saw was that her purpose or reasoning behind her actions is much clearer in the book.  Towards the end of the book Claudia believes it is inevitable that Louis will leave her for the vampire Armand.  Claudia is so intuitive about people that she knows that Louis will leave before he does.  In the movie I do not get this impression that Louis will definitely leave.  Since there is question about that there is also question about why Claudia asks Louis to change Madeleine into a vampire.  Claudia says it's so she won't be alone, but it also seems like she does it to replace Lestat or to live through the new woman vampire vicariously.  This last part seems likely, also, because Claudia is forever stuck in a child's body.  Kirsten Dunst played this role of woman stuck in child's body admirably but I still think there is an issue of believability here.  The viewer still knows that it is a child pretending to be an adult.  Here is a clip from the movie where it is almost uncomfortable to watch the interactions between Kirsten Dunst and Brad Pitt because the viewer is aware that Dunst is just a young girl.

Louis' character, in my opinion, was much easier to understand in the book.  Throughout the movie Louis never seems happy.  He is a very dreary, depressing character.  We could attribute this to the losses Louis had as a human but it is never made apparent in the movie how much Louis hates being with Lestat.  These are Louis' thoughts of Lestat from the book Interview with a Vampire.
            "He appeared frail and stupid to me, a man made of dried twigs with a thin, carping voice…  But I stayed with him…  As I've told you, he had me at a great disadvantage.  He hinted there was much I didn't know and must know and that he alone could tell me." (pg. 34-35)
Here it is so glaringly obvious not only how disgusted Louis is by Lestat but also how much Lestat manipulates Louis to stay with him.  It emphasizes the loneliness in Lestat too.  Louis' disgust with Lestat does not exactly transfer into the movie.  In the movie what Louis seems to hate is Lestat's enjoyment of being a vampire.  This humanistic quality that Louis still carries seems to set him apart from other vampires in both the movie and book.  Since his condition (of being a vampire and therefore a murderer) is not exactly ideal for his feelings about humanity Louis never accepts what he is or embraces it the way Lestat does.
This is a clip from the movie emphasizing both Lestat's inhumanity and Louis's hatred of it.

There were many people who had reservations about whether or not Tom Cruise would be able to pull off the character Lestat but after the movie was made he seemed to have everyone on his side, including the author herself, Anne Rice.  She comments about Tom Cruise's performance:
            ""ON TOM CRUISE: From the moment he appeared Tom was Lestat for me. He has the immense physical and moral presence; he was defiant and yet never without conscience; he was beautiful beyond description yet compelled to do cruel things. The sheer beauty of Tom was dazzling, but the polish of his acting, his flawless plunge into the Lestat persona, his ability to speak rather boldly poetic lines, and speak them with seeming ease and conviction were exhilarating and uplifting. The guy is great.

I'm no good at modesty. I like to believe Tom's Lestat will be remembered the way Olivier's Hamlet is remembered. Others may play the role some day but no one will ever forget Tom's version of it." (1)
Lestat's character in the book is far more admirable and captivating compared to the movie.  If the reader were referring to the book they would consider Louis to be the main character but if they were talking about the movie Lestat definitely gives Louis a run for his money.  Anne Rice makes Lestat seem so mindless in the book, like he is purely going on instinct and never thinks about what he does.  This excerpt from Interview with a Vampire highlights that quality in Lestat.
            "You see, they (young men) represented the greatest loss to Lestat, because they stood on the threshold of the maximum possibility of life.  Of course, Lestat didn't understand this himself.  I came to understand it.  Lestat understood nothing." (pg. 41)
Rice writes Lestat as a selfish  vampire who does not seem to care for anyone but himself.  He is truly vampire with no human qualities.  I also think that Louis' portrayals of Lestat turn the reader against him even more. The producer, David Gaffan, wanted Lestat to be played as "nasty", and I feel like he got the idea from the book because he truly is nasty.  Tom Cruise took Lestat to a whole different level.  You might even describe him as a "Byronic hero" or the hero that we love to hate.

1.  Rice, Anne. "Anne Rice On Tom Cruise." Angelfire, Web. 10 Nov 2010.             <>
2.  Rice, Anne. Interview with a Vampire. 1. New York: The Random House           Publishing Group, 1976. 34-35,41. Print.

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