I have been a long time fan of Anne Rice’s classic Vampire Chronicle series. Lestat is an engaging anti hero and one cannot but envy the world he experiences through his undead eyes. Rice’s writing style and subtle shades are a pleasure to read and the reader is totally immersed in the vampiric world she describes. Here was a new take on the vampire tale and the brilliance of the Louis telling his tale to a reporter is inspired. Using this narrating style the reader gets a first person view of what its like to be one of the undead, both the good and the bad.
When it was announced that the story was to be made into a feature film I went through the range of emotions that any fan goes through. Would the film stay true to the fee
l and Gothic wonder of the original text? Casting would be essential as to get this wrong would entirely damn the film to B Movie hell. I didn’t need to worry on the first count as Rice herself wrote the adapted screen play. But the casting issue was still a concern. Originally River Phoenix was cast in the role of the interviewer (Daniel Molloy) but sadly he passed away only four weeks before filming was to commence. Christian Slater took the role and donated his entire salary to Pheonix’s most loved charities. There is a credit to Phoenix at the end of the film. Even with this tragic late recasting Slater wasn’t my concern. I had been a long time admirer of his work and knew that he would provide a certainty in the pivotal role that anchors the film. No, my concern was Tom Cruise. Interestingly Rice also shared concerns and had originally intended the role of Lestat to be given to Julian Sands. Yet Sands wasn’t deemed a big enough box office draw and the role was given to Cruise. Tom Cruise was known for light comedic turns and, for me anyway, had not demonstrated the sufficient breadth of acting prowess to play justice to Lestat.
Lestat is a complicated character and damning Louis to the undead life without sharing the significant drawbacks and pain that accompanies it. Here is a vampire who is also seeking to rekindle his love for life by bringing another as companion into his world. The emotional range and complexities would be too greater job for the diminutive Cruise. How wrong I was! from the moment Cruise appears onscreen he is every bit the Lestat I had come to love. His interplay with Brad Pitt (Louis) as he struggles to come to term
s with the afterlife he had been dragged to provide the film with some of the most poignant scenes. Cruise ably displays the revulsion he feels at seeing Louis survive on a diet of rats to prevent him killing. It’s not all Cruise and Pitt though as the shadowy figure of Armand is equally an important one. The casting of Antonio Bandaras as Armand, again is inspired, Bandaras is every bit the showman and the killer. Condemning the ill fated Claudia to death by sunlight is devastating to view and provokes brutal revenge from Louis.
Neil Jordan’s assured direction means that the Gothic feel of the books perfectly transferred onto the big screen and the Theatre Des Vampires is as nightmarish as I had imagined upon reading the novel. Interview With A Vampire could have been a total mess and massacred Rice’s work (as indeed Queen of the Night, the films awful sequel does) Instead we are treated to an exploration of vampires in a way that we have never seen before. Whilst the Twilight films pitched the genre into ridicule and pointless over romantic cliche, Interview With The Vampire retained the horrific nature of the killers whilst adding a poignancy and despair that I would not see portrayed so expertly for many years (Let Me In)
Interview With The Vampire has aged like the fine wine Lestat himself loves to drink. It’s high points of rich flavours wonderfully set at odds with the bitter under taste of lost love and despair.
Follow @Ventspleen2014 on Twitter
Photos Courtesy of Fanpop.com
You can purchase Interview With The Vampire from Amazon below