178 of 200 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2004
"Libera me, Domine, de vitae aeterna" - "Free me, Lord, from eternal life": If a movie begins with a choir and boy soprano singing these words, in a requiem's style and overlaying the camera's sweeping move over nightly San Francisco bay, zooming in on a Victorian building's top-floor window after having followed the life on the street below like a hunter follows its prey - if a movie begins like this, you know you're not looking at your average flick, whatever its subject. (And if the first thing you catch is the Latin phrase's grammatical mistake, this is probably not your kind of movie to begin with).
Much-discussed even before its release, due not least to Anne Rice's temporary withdrawal of support and her no less sensational subsequent 180-degree turn, Neil Jordan's adaptation of the "Vampire Chronicles"' first part, based on Rice's own screenplay, is a sumptuous production awash in luminous colors, magnificent period decor and costumes, rich fabrics, heavy crystal, elegant silverware and gallons of deeply scarlet blood, supremely photographed by Phillippe Rousselot, with a constant undercurrent of sensuality and seduction; an audiovisual orgy substantiated by one of recent film history's most ingenious scores (by Elliot Goldenthal). Although the book only gained notoriety after the publication of its sequel "The Vampire Lestat," followed in short order by the "Chronicles"' third installment, "The Queen of the Damned," by the time this movie was produced, Rice had acquired a large and loyal fan base, who would have been ready to tear it to shreds had it failed to meet their expectations. That this was not unanimously the case is in and of itself testimony to Neil Jordan's considerable achievement (only underscored by the botched 2002 realization of "Queen of the Damned"). Sure, some decry the plot changes vis-a-vis the novel and the fact that some of the protagonists (particularly Louis and Armand) look different from Rice's description. But others have embraced the movie wholeheartedly; praising it for remaining faithful to the fundamentalities of Rice's story and for its production values as such. I find myself firmly in the latter corner; indeed, in some respects I consider this one of the rare movies that are superior to their literary originals - primarily because the story's two main characters, Louis and Lestat, gain considerably in stature and complexity compared to Rice's book.
While both film and novel are narrated by Louis (Brad Pitt), giving an interview to a reporter (Christian Slater) in the hope of achieving some minimal atonement for 200 years of sin and guilt, and while Lestat (Tom Cruise) appears on screen barely half the movie's running time, Lestat is much more of a central character than in Rice's novel; and vastly more interesting. For Anne Rice's Lestat only comes into his own in the "Chronicles"' second part, which is named for him and where we truly learn to appreciate him as the vampire world's aristocratic, arrogant, wicked, intelligent and unscrupulous "brat prince," who although completely lacking regret for any of his actions nevertheless shows occasional glimpses of caring, even if he would never admit thereto. *This*, however, is exactly the movie's Lestat; not the comparatively uninformed and, all things considered, even somewhat brutish creature of Rice's first novel. It is no small feat on Tom Cruise's part to have accomplished this; and in my mind his portrayal has completely eclipsed the character's original conception, which was reportedly based on Rutger Hauer's Captain Navarre in "Ladyhawke."
Similarly, while every bit as guilt-ridden as the character created by Anne Rice, Brad Pitt's Louis regains more inner strength - and more quickly so - than the narrator of Rice's book, rendering him more of an even foil for Lestat, and equally lending greater credibility to his initial selection as Lestat's companion, his actions to ensure his and Claudia's escape to Europe, and his later decision not to stay with Armand. (Indeed, Louis's and Armand's separation after the burning of the Theatre of the Vampires makes perfect sense in the movie's context; it would have undercut both characters', but especially Louis's credibility had they gone on to share years of companionship like in the book.)
Kirsten Dunst's Claudia was not only this movie's biggest discovery - not surprisingly, in an interview included on the DVD Dunst calls this "the most prominent role" of her career so far - she, too, embodies the novel's child vampire to absolute perfection; capturing her eternally childlike features as well as her Lolitaesque seductiveness and the ruthless killer hidden under her doll-like appearance. Doubtlessly furthest from the novel's character is Antonio Banderas's powerful and charismatic Armand: But while I do somewhat miss Rice's auburn-haired "Botticelli angel," I always had a problem imagining him as the leader of the Paris coven, in control even of the quicksilver-like Santiago (marvelously portrayed by Stephen Rea in one of his most overtly theatrical performances). Here, too, the movie - if anything - gives the story greater credibility; although it's admittedly hard to reconcile with parts of the "Chronicles"' later installments, particularly Armand's own biography.
In interviews, Neil Jordan and Brad Pitt particularly have mentioned the emotional strain that this movie put on all its participants; due its almost exclusively nightly shooting schedule, and even more so because of its incessant exploration of guilt, damnation and, literally, hell on earth. Anne Rice's vampires truly are the ultimate outsiders; no longer part of human society, they feed on it, can neither be harmed by sickness nor by methods the world has taken for granted ever since Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (which are in fact merely "the vulgar fictions of a demented Irishman," as Louis explains, simultaneously amused and contemptuous) and are thus, if not killed by fire and/or beheading, condemned to walk the earth forever, without any hope of redemption. It is primarily this element which has given Rice's novels their lasting appeal, and which is perfectly rendered in Jordan's adaptation. I'm still not sure I'd ever want to meet them in person, though ...
Complete Vampire Chronicles (Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, The Queen of the Damned, The Tale of the body Thief)
The Vampire Companion
Bram Stoker's Dracula (Collector's Edition)
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2011
5 stars out of 5 = Masterpiece
Elegant, sophisticated, beautifully scripted, acted, paced, & filmed, "Interview with the Vampire" is among my top five favorite Vampire movies. No other Vampire film, other than Gary Oldman's Oscar worthy performance in "Bram Stoker's Dracula," delves as deep in a character study of Vampires & how it would be like to be a Vampire from their point of view.
A broad 200 year perspective of the life of Brad Pitts Vampire character, "Louie," the reluctant Vampire who finally succumbs to his fate of feeding on human blood, & in his quest for enlightenment of what he is, he finds out, if anything, he is a Vampire.
The story of a surprisingly great performance of Tom Cruise's, "Lestat," who sees "the dark gift" as everything he could ever want, except companionship, what he wants the most, & realizes the least. Cruise steals the show in his glee for sucking the blood out of the living, & his indignation for turning "Louie" in to a Vampire that still has respect for human life, in a barrage of cold blooded murders, & ranting at "Louie" with black comedic hilarity, yet shocking indifference to life, to the point of sadomasochism . Also, a very young Kristen Dunst's, "Claudia", who also steals the show & matches Lestat bite for bite in the quest for blood, & the sport it brings. A hugely great & complicated performance for such a young girl!
"Interview with the Vampire" is a thinking man's horror film, one that reaches down deep, not just to bring you cheap scares & shallow predictable characters, but a rich tapestry of what it means to be a Vampire, & all the consequences that goes with it.
87 of 97 people found the following review helpful
Let me begin by saying that I have not read the book and am judging the movie solely on its own merits. "Interview with the Vampire" is a luscious, guilty pleasure of modern filmmaking, visually resplendent and with wonderful performances by all (including Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas and Stephen Rea). It follows the adventures of Louis de Pont du Lac (Brad Pitt), a 200-year-old vampire hailing from Louisiana, as he recounts the story of his life (and unlife) to interviewer Daniel Malloy (Christian Slater). Along the way we meet his maker Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise), his "daughter" Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), and Armand (Antonio Banderas), leader of the Parisian vampires.
Tom Cruise, in my mind, perfectly portrays the elder vampire Lestat...beautiful, cunning, selfish, a seducer, many of the same qualities present in Armand, and possesses an excess of dark humour. Brad Pitt's Louis still clings to the last shreds of his humanity...his sense of right and wrong, the value of life, the horror of killing in order to survive (angstmaster Nick Knight from "Forever Knight" springs to mind). There is a lack of onscreen romantic tension between Cruise and Pitt...something that makes their relationship seem less immediate and binding. However, there is definitely a spark between Louis and Armand (Antonio Banderas), and it was easy to believe that Louis was tempted to stay as a companion to such an intelligent, beautiful vampire who could teach him the answers to his questions. Kirsten Dunst is phenomenal as Claudia, the vampire with the mind and desires of a woman eternally trapped in the body of a doll-child.
The visuals are lavish, moody, stunningly brilliant, especially the world of 1800's New Orleans with its brocades, silks, and elaborate dresses. The atmosphere is appropriately dark, with plenty of fog and menacing nighttime damp. Elliot Goldenthal's score is string-driven, pulsing, tense, and underscores the action perfectly, the crowning piece being "Libera Me".
Yes, this film is graphic at times, including two very graphic scenes involving mutilation, numerous "feedings," homoeroticism, and brief nudity, but "Interview with the Vampire" is an unconventional drama that probes the meaning of life, death, love, seduction, and regret. More than anything Anne Rice's vampires make us realize the conventions and trappings of humanity.
101 of 120 people found the following review helpful
I haven't cared very much for Anne Rice's recent books, but her earlier work was outstanding. I loved "Interview" in particular, so I was really looking forward to this movie. There is always a risk in adapting such a vivid and powerful-not to mention beloved-book into a film. Director Neil Jordan and his collaborators have succeeded marvelously, though. This is an exciting, engaging film; remarkably faithful to Rice's original text.
The story opens in present day San Francisco. Louis (Brad Pitt), a 200 year-old vampire, is telling his life story to an interviewer (Christian Slater), who is shocked by his supernatural revelation. "I am flesh and blood," Louis tells him, "but not human."
His story takes us back to late 18th century New Orleans where Louis first encountered the Vampire Lestat (Tom Cruise). Desiring a companion, and in love with his beautiful looks, Lestat gives Louis the "Dark Gift"-that is, he makes him into a vampire. They live together for many years, roaming the streets at night, united by their common quest for blood.
Eventually, though, Lestat fears that Louis is going to leave him. Desperate, he makes a vampire of Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), a beautiful young child, knowing the Louis would never leave the girl. Thus they are bonded together as "one big, happy family." As it turns out, though, they are not so happy after all.
The story takes the vampires to Paris, where they finally encounter some more of their own kind. The coven of vampires is led by the stunningly handsome Armand (Antonio Banderas) who quickly falls in love with Louis. Louis is enamored of him as well, but he will never leave little Claudia, something Armand realizes.
The film ends back in the present in a departure from Rice's book. The new twist is exciting, though, and sets up the story for an inevitable sequel. It hasn't been made yet, but if it ever is, I'm looking forward to it.
The big question, of course, is, how is Tom Cruise as Lestat? In one word: brilliant. This is one of his best performances ever, heightened by the fact that he is playing a role so different from his typical screen persona. Cruise has always been an underrated actor, but hopefully that will start to change after people see him here. He is terrific.
The rest of the performances are also quite good. Brad Pitt does very well as the tortured, guilt-ridden Louis. Antonio Banderas is extraordinary as the seductive, young master of darkness. His is the most convincing portrayal of a vampire, filled with power and charisma.
Neil Jordan's direction is top-notch. Visually, "Vampire" is stunning, helped considerably by Dante Ferretti's superb production design. Anyone who has read the book-and anyone who has not-is sure to enjoy this haunting, erotic treat.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Where do you even begin to talk about a movie like this? I loved it so much! I am only 14 years old but I do have very good tase in movies, I won't watch senceless blood-baths about prissy beautiful women getting sliced up in their nightclothes, nope in order for me to enjoy a horror film is has to have a story, this movie left me spelbound. I have owned the film for a little over 9 months now and have watched it enough times to have the script memorized. No I'm not crazy, I just know I great movie when I see it. The actors seemed to be made to play their roles. One minor thing that bugged me was that Antiono Banderas was casted for Armand. Its not that he isn't a good acter, its that he looks NOTHING like Armand. Armand has arburn hair and was only 17 when he was made. Nevertheless, Bandera did a wonderful job and I loved him. I also loved Tom Cruise's role in the movie. He pulled off Lestat so incredibly well it makes you want to weep. Brad Pitt's Louis was equaly amazing. He makes you really become in touch with Louis. My heart just broke when Louis discovered Claudia's ashes. *sniff* Stephan Rea did a wonderful job with Santiago and made it very east for me to hate him. Who can forget the smug smile he gave Louis after murdering Claudia? Christian Slater was flawless. I do wish however that they had stuck to the ending in the book, with Louis not only attcking Daniel, but draining him as well. Then again, if it has happened like that we wouldn't have been treated to the wonderful part with Lestat in the car. I just love when Lestat grabs Daniel by the neck, pulls him back and says "I assume I need no introduction" such a great line! Kristin Dunst was totally unbelieveable! She was only 11 when she made this movie! it truly seemed like she was a woman trapped inside a girls body. All the other minor roles where just as good. I didn't care for the sceane with that poor women being picked on by the vampire just before they killed her. In the novel she had a much more peaceful and less painfuly ending. Oh but the movie is so good that none of the small mistakes matter at all. I love this movie so much and every time someone comes to my house I ask, "Have you seen Interview with the Vampire?" If they say no, I tell them where the nearest video store is and send them in their way:) I also persoanlly would not classify this movie as horror. I thought it was much more a drama. I think that just because it is a story about creature tht kill people in order to prolong their own exsistance, it is considered a horror story. Please, do not pass this movie up, it will totally shock it in its sheer beauty.
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2009
First off as a film, I would give it 4 1/2 stars.
If you own the standard DVD save your money. Almost no difference in picture quality.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
When this movie opened on the big screen, I did not go to see it because I thought it was going to be a "spoof" about vampires. However, when I saw the video, my assumption couldn't have been further from the truth. I found myself enthralled with the tormented Louis (Brad Pitt), the flamboyant Lestat (Tom Cruise), and the exquisite child Claudia (Kirsten Dunst). This is a very passionate, expressive, and vivid adaptation of Anne Rice's novel. Tom Cruise brings the character Lestat to life with all the bells and whistles (he went for it) and is one of his finest hours on the sliver screen. It seems the vampire Louis was written for Brad Pitt - need I say more. The child vampire, Claudia, was played brilliantly by Kirsten Dunst, and she looked the role all too perfectly. I found myself caught up in the macabre atmosphere and genre of New Orleans and the 18th Century. This movie takes the classic vampire as we know him, and shows a different side where human emotions, vulnerability and the need for companionship meet. Underlying it all is the "thirst" (no pun intended) for knowledge about the origins of the "dark gift", the fear of abandonment, and future survival. It takes the fears that we go through as humans and fuses them with these vampires. For those of you who like the mysterious and eerie, this is a must to see. I fell in love with it and have watched it many times over. I love Anne Rice's book, but adore the movie.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2000
As an Anne Rice fan, I thought this movie was very well done, even though they did change certain things from the book version and left some things out. I thought all of the actors did an excellent job. Antonio was quite unlike the Armand in the book, but I still thought he did a great job of portraying Armand's dark, manipulative, and seductive side. Tom Cruise was terrific at portraying the cocky, yet charismatic, Lestat, and Brad and Kirsten were excellent as Louis and Claudia. The scenery was fantastic and really made me feel like I was seeing New Orleans as it was back in those days. The costumes were all beautiful and the make-up job on the vampires was great. I love Rice's vampires because they are completely different than any others we have known, such as Dracula and Nosferatu. I love them for their "human-ness" and the way that they are really not all that different from us. For as Anne Rice says, the movie isn't really about vampires. It's really about us. I love the part at the beginning when Louis is in the bar exchanging words with another man, and the camera moves upward to the top of the stairs. We see Lestat's left hand resting on the railing, as he quietly watches the goings-on below. We immediately know what he is thinking. Then, moments later, when Louis is walking with the prostitute, we see Lestat suddenly appear there watching them as they pass on by. That was great! My only real disappointment was at the end when Lestat ends up with Daniel (Christian Slater) in his car. I'm sorry they didn't stick to the book's ending, instead of drastically changing it to something totally different. I also thought Louis' time with Armand would have been interesting to watch. I really love the soundtrack, with its dark, yet beautiful melodies. Libera Me is just haunting. Whenever I drive to San Francisco, I make sure to play it as I drive over the bridge! This is one of my most favorite films. What can I say except, "I want some more!"
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2004
This would have to be one of the better vampire films.
Anne Rice authored the famous novel over a relatively short time after the tragic death of her daughter. In this case, the creative process aided the grieving process and turned her into one of the most read gothic novelists in twentieth century history.
Rice's screenplay is true to form, and the production value of the film is first rate. Before the film's release, there was a lot of noise regarding the casting. When Tom Cruise heard about the film, he lobbied hard, contacted his influential connections, and pulled a few strings, landing the coveted role of The Vampire Lestat. All the noise came from Anne Rice, because she didn't want Cruise to play the part. In so many words, Anne believed he was not capable of playing the charismatic vampire, as the character of Lestat is a complex one, requiring a certain cosmopolitan class and aplomb. Cruise won the role anyway as writers in Hollywood, as is well known, hold little power. In the end, however, surprisingly, Cruise managed to put in one of the best performances of his career. Lestat came to life and the film has slowly turned into a cult classic that can be viewed time and time again.
Rice's novel and the screenplay are exceedingly clever because the vampire is used as a metaphor for the human condition. The character of Louie is a representative of everyman - angry at the seeming absurdity of our existence. He loses his beloved wife and child and falls into a deep grief, hates the world and wishes only to die. The Vampire Lestat, in search of a companion out of his own loneliness, offers Louie a new lease on life...or death. Emotionally and physically at rock bottom, Louie accepts Lestat's offer of immortality and takes the plunge. Louie becomes a reluctant vampire because killing, he believes, is against his nature. This is the human condition: our moral inclinations and our basic instincts constantly at war. Louie rejects his new nature as a killer, however, he's no longer human - he now exists in no-mans land neither human or vampire, but as Lestat constantly reminds him, he must make a choice. This is existentialism in its purist representation, that there is no such thing as "human nature", and what we are, and what it means to be human, (or vampire) are always a matter of decision - there's no correct choice - only choices. In other words, man is nothing else but what he makes himself. Louie made a choice to join the dark side and then could not take responsibility for that choice, hence his angst about his true identity. Brad Pitt put in a believable performance as the reluctant vampire as we could feel his angst, his frustration concerning his new identity.
This is one of those films that can be pulled off the shelf occasionally and enjoyed, no matter how many times it's seen. This is an excellent story from an entertaining as well as philosophical point of view.
31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is the author talking. The film is shattering. For me, and of course I lack objectivity, it is The Red Shoes of Horror Films. It got my book, it got my script, and the person responsible was the producer David Geffen. He is the one who drew together the finest talent in every field to do this film. He asked me to write the screen play. Was I part of "the finest talent?" I hope so. He is the one who sent me a video of the film even though I objected to casting and might have screamed. I loved it. I called him to tell him. When he sent a print of the film to New Orleans for a private viewing for me and my family and friends, I was so overwhelmed by this picture that I came out of it crying helplessly in the arms of my editor Victoria Wilson. I stood there sobbing, holding onto Vicky, as the whole crowd of concerned people looked on. I couldn't snap out of it. I went out, got in the back of my car, and was driven home. The film took me back to the night I finished the book -- 4 a.m. in the morning in the year 1973 -- in Berkeley, California, in a shabby ground floor apartment full of junk shop furniture, a beautiful place, where I sat on the couch utterly overwhelmed by the experience of "the novel," a coherence that had come out of me -- vowing to myself that if no one published it, I'd sell it out of shopping bag to people on the street. The film took me back even further, into the soul that had exposed itself in the writing. Darkness. No grace. No salvation. The film got it. It got "the glamor of evil" and that darkness, that hopelessness, that despair. It is -- and I say this now as a film buff -- a great film. Forget me. Forget the book. It's a piece of sublime work in which genius "happened" as it can in film when great directors like Neil Jordan, and great actors, and great professional on all levels are giving it everything that they can -- when they have but one goal and that is to be true to something in which the author was true to himself or herself. It worked. It's magic. And now ten years later people are discovering it. They are sharing that sublime vision. I'm thankful; I'm happy; I'm proud to have been part of it. I'm grateful. And I hope David Geffen knows. I hope he knows how the world values that film. He did that. I hope he's proud. Anne Rice, Paradise West, California