The Book

A novel by Anne Rice, which takes the format of being the novelization of an alleged interview with said vampire. Anne Rice wrote the book after the loss of her daughter, as a form of therapy. And this is certainly one of the themes of the book, the coping with loss; is eternity long enough to come to terms with the loss of someone you have loved so dearly?

The book begins with Daniel meeting with Louis to interview him. Louis has longed to tell his story, and Daniel, a journalist, is the perfect person to tell. We then are transported back in time to 1791, where we find Louis as a plantation owner in New Orleans who has lost everything he cared for: His family. Without those he loved so dearly through anger and guilt he goes on a self destruction binge wishing for death. He finds it the shape of Lestat.

Louis wants answers. He seeks meaning to it all, and asks Lestat for answers ceaselessly, which drives Lestat to distraction. Lestat is charming, yet cold hearted - and Louis appears to be the opposite; gentle and humane. Its an interesting interaction between protagonist and antagonist, between father and son, creator and created.

The story follows Louis' unlife over the next two hundred years or so, and we see him slowly, but not quite, losing his humanity. We see his love for his vampire daughter Claudia gives way for the Parisian vampire boy, Armand. We know that Louis can never truly let Claudia go from his heart, not 100 years of grief is long enough. This is where Anne Rice excels, since the book was written to address this very issue.

The relationship that develops between Armand and Louis is a very romantic one. Armand is attracted to Louis because of his humanity, his feeling out of place, and his confliction. Louis in return is attracted to Armand for his experience, his power, and his knowledge.

Claudia and Armand present interesting characters, both children. We know all about Claudia, indeed, we grow up with her from the moment she is turned. She is a woman trapped in the body of a pre-pubescent child, a doll-like body, but the heart of a killer and the mind of woman. It is particularly moving when Claudia vocalises her frustrations about never growing to be a woman.

We have a story which has many elements in it, "Can love last forever?", "Can love transcend gender, or sex?", "Will we ever come to terms with losing those we love?". It is at times a romance, at times an adventure story, and sometimes it is gothic horror; however, it never strays from the dark, sensous mood that permeates throughout the entire novel.


The Movie

Directed by: Neil Jordan

Writing credits (WGA)
Anne Rice  (novel)
Anne Rice  (screenplay)

Genre: Drama / Horror

Tom Cruise .... Lestat de Lioncourt
Brad Pitt .... Louis de Pointe du Lac
Kirsten Dunst .... Claudia
Stephen Rea .... Santiago
Antonio Banderas .... Armand
Christian Slater .... Daniel Malloy

Is there much difference between the novel and the book? Essentially no. The story and the mood is kept pretty much inline with the book; as with all films based on books, there are sections that have to be cut (either because they would be boring in film format or there is a need to keep the film short).

I think Hollywood making Armand a man was a little cowardly of them, and the homoerotic element was toned down (although gender is not a big issue with Anne Rice's Vampires).I have to say though, the parting scene with Louis and Armand almost kissing is just pure sex. The journey through Europe is cut and simply narrated to Louis effectively saying they found nothing of interest. And Lestat's immortal line "I am going to give you the choice...I...never had" is not in the books (though I think it works perfectly in the film).

FROM ANNE RICE: ON THE FILM, INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE

(copied with permission, or rather in her own words: "No rights reserved. Quote any, or all of it, anywhere anytime you wish." It's quite a large text, and I cut it down considerably)

When I saw the film on VHS, I came out at once in favor of it, declaring that I loved it. I bought two pages in VARIETY to talk about it in a frank and unedited announcement. No one controlled what I wrote, or had any opportunity to delete any part of it. I loved the film. I said so. I had no idea at the time that the film would be a huge success. The look of IWTV was for me perfect. Dante Ferretti knew exactly what he was doing with the sets. The costumes were impeccable. And the cinematography of Philippe Rousselot was extraordinary. Stan Winston's makeup achieved an eerie and effective otherworldly look. The score by Elliot Goldenthal I found to be quite wonderful.

Minor note: The hair of the characters in the film was eccentric -- it was not in conformity with the descriptions in the book or my script, or with historical evidence. But it was very interesting, at times more than beautiful, and it worked.

The opening shots of San Francisco caught the grimness of the city, the urban mixture of desperation, poverty and affluent life. Though Brad Pitt did not appear as "beautiful" as I had wanted in the opening scene (the actor is incredibly beautiful actually) he was divinely other worldly -- the Stan Winston make up had its own perfection and appeal with the blue veins beneath the skin, and Brad spoke his lines boldly and well.

As the film plunged into 18th century Louisiana, it had the atmosphere and feel of a pirate film -- rugged, ragged, and full of rats and candles. Superb. This was infinitely better than the fussy Dangerous Liaisons look which worked beautifully for that film but which would never have caught the humid, friable, and doggedly makeshift life of the colony of New Orleans.

The shift to Paris was superb. In a few words and shots, the film caught the unmistakable vitality of a great capitol city, and the contrast to the colony was splendid and thrilling.

The art direction, costumes, lighting , cinematography and craft of the film were sumptuous and thrillingly successful for me. I was grateful for the uncompromising lushness of the film, for its magnificent interiors and brutal exteriors for its relentless attention to detail throughout in creating an immense and tantalizing and utterly convincing world, all of one fine and infinitely varying fabric. Bravo!

ON BRAD PITT:

Brad Pitt immediately infused the despairing Louis with understandable feeling. He played it passive and quiet, and for me and for lots of viewers (they call me and tell me) he got what guilt was all about, a guilt sometimes that is unattached to any one death or loss. He captured the despair of some one who has fallen from grace, lost his faith, seen what he cannot abide. Brad's eyes, his manner, his soft voice throughout the film were magical.

Ironically, the Louis whom Brad played on the screen is more passive than the Louis of the novel or of my first draft screenplay (which was of course rewritten and changed and edited and enlarged by Neil Jordan). But Brad Pitt made this passive suffering character totally appealing and sympathetic. His seemed to combine youth and patience, acceptance and conscience.

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.

(Let me say here that anyone who thinks I did an "about face" on Tom just doesn't know the facts. My objections to his casting were based on familiarity with his work, which I loved. Many many great actors have been miscast in films and have failed to make it work. We've seen big stars stumble over and over when they attempt something beyond their reach.

That Tom DID make Lestat work was something I could not see in a crystal ball. It's to his credit that he proved me wrong. But the general objections to the casting? They were made on solid ground. Enough on that subject. Tom is a great actor. Tom wants challenges. Tom has now transcended the label of biggest box office star in the world. He's better.)

With love,

Anne Rice
New Orleans, Louisiana
1994

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