Interview with a Vampire is a movie starring Brad Pitt as Louis, a New Orleans plantation owner in the 1870’s who is turned into a Vampire by Lestat, a mysterious, cynical, and emotionally damaged vampire played by Tom Cruise.
The film was released in 1994, but it is based on the first book in Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles that was published in the 1980’s. Anne Rice worked closely with the scriptwriters and producers of the movie during its early and mid phases, guaranteeing that her work was properly displayed on film.
Brad Pitt’s performance as beautiful, nostalgic and guilt-ridden Louis, forever the gentleman vampire; Tom Cruise’s portrayal of willful and sarcastic Lestat; young Kirsten Dunt’s embodiment of Claudia, the child Vampire who is the daughter and creation of both Lestat and Louis, and Antonio Bandera’s take on Armand, the Vampire leader of a decadent cult of vampires who worship death and also jointly manage a Belle Epóque type of theatre company in New York, not only carry the story forward, but embody the very essences and concepts that make the book so good.
This review contains spoilers. If you watch the movie before reading my review, you will naturally respond according to your own sensitivities and make up your own mind about it. Then, you can compare your conclusions with my review. If you read my review before watching the movie, it could influence the way you approach the film.
It’s up to you 🙂
First of all, in the Vampire Chronicles, the vampires drink blood and kill humans. Very seldom do these vampires fraternize with humans, and when they do usually they end up turning them vampire. These are true hunters of the night: natural predators with great powers who are obsessed with their immortality and with natural beauty.
But not all vampires are made equal.
Louis, for example, internally battles with his very existence. What is he? Is he naturally evil? Is his soul damned? He is the most humane of all vampires, the most refined, and the most polite. Hence, he suffers the most.
Lestat, on the other hand, is passionate, powerful, willful, and even cruel at times. He is more inclined to action, and less inclined to thought. At least, this is the portrayal that Louis’s memoir gives him of us. Since Lestat is Louis’s maker, their relationship is complicated. Louis strongly believes that Lestat doesn’t understand him.
Lestat is 100 years old when he makes Louis (but we don’t know this until the second book in The Vampire Chronicles), so he’s way more experienced as a vampire than Louis. But Lestat can’t communicate with Louis because he is insensitive, callous, strict, and has tons of emotional baggage that we yet don’t know about.
It’s no wonder then that he is a bad guidance to Louis, who is so sensitive that for years he survived only on the blood of rats. This, however, doesn’t mean Lestat doesn’t love Louis. When Louis threatens Lestat by leaving him, Lestat can’t bear the thought of it, and does the unthinkable.
You have to understand the reason Lestat made Louis a vampire in the first place is because he loved him.
An interesting thing about Rice’s vampires is that the moment their human bodies die, their sexual members die with it. Vampires become forever disconnected from sexual urges and completely immersed in exploring natural beauty and satisfying their thirst for blood. But they transcend their purely earthly nature when they learn to love one another. Lestat wanted to love Louis.
And love him he did: he loved his humanity, his perpetual suffering, his soulfulness, his physical beauty. So he immortalized him. For Lestat, Louis is both his creation and his companion. But he messed everything up because he’s a far from perfect vampire, and Louis still firmly clung to his mortal life.
To keep Louis from dumping him, Lestat makes Claudia—a 7-year old girl who lost her mamá to the plague—into a child vampire. A child vampire had never been made before. Lestat immortalized her in that tiny body; always to be dependent on someone else to exist, fragile and porcelain-like and beautiful like a doll, and as lethal as all vampires. Lestat thought it a fine creation.
This time around, Lestat was a better maker. He and Louis raised Claudia together. She inherited his killer instinct, so it wasn’t long before Claudia grew restless and resentful of Lestat, like a teenager would, and manipulates Louis into rebelling against him. They do, and both of them manage to escape.
Then Louis meets Armand, who instantly falls in love with him too. But Louis remains unconvinced, he is taciturn, besides, he has Claudia. So Armand schemes to kill Claudia and get rid of her, which he successfully manages to do with the help of his cult, and of course Louis isn’t an idiot, so he figures it out and says goodbye to Armand, incapable of being someone who killed his last lover.
Centuries pass, and Louis becomes a full-fledged vampire. He chances upon Lestat, who is old and withered and can’t bear the advances of the new century. They have a brief conversation, and then Louis leaves him yet again, proud and noble.
In the books, Lestat goes underground and resurfaces sixty years later, when the rock music of the late seventies / early eighties wakes him. He becomes enamored with everything once again. It took him about sixty years in the ground to get over Louis, but finally he does, and he starts wearing the leather clothes from his victims, and becomes the lead singer of a worldwide famous rock band.
This is all the start of the second book in The Vampire Chronicles starts, called The Vampire Lestat.
Of course the movie had to have a more immediate conclusion to Lestat’s character arc, so all we know is that Lestat resurfaces and seems his old self again, and he definitely likes rock music.
It’s good stuff. The characters are very complex and real. Their motives for doing things, particularly Lestat’s motives, become more intriguing as the series advances. This is a great film and it captures the essence of the book very well. It’s obvious all the characters got into their roles and understood what it was like being a vampire in that world. The costumes are great, the whole aesthetics of the film is delightful as well, yet sometimes horrible. All in all, it’s a beautifully made film.