‘Interview with the Vampire’ by Anne Rice has possibly the worst film adaptions in existence, with the exception being its sequel, but I’ll get to that travesty later…
I’m always surprised when Anne Rice’s name appears on the opening credits, indicating that she wrote the screen play. However, I recently learnt that despite the fact that the opening screen credits read “Screenplay by Anne Rice based on her novel”, the script was actually heavily edited by the director Neil Jordan and the Writers Guild rules meant that Rice got credit despite the alterations. This makes more sense given the drastic deviations from the original storyline, but I have seen some references to Anne Rice being incredibly pleased with the adaptation, calling is a “masterpiece”. So it’s difficult to tell exactly how she feels about the differences.
One of the most noticeably difference comes from the depictions of the main characters.
Tom Cruise is the closest to resembling his character, however he did have to be placed on an elevated platform during some scenes to reduce the height difference between his character and other vampires. The largest difference is the pronunciation of his name, in the novels it’s made very clear that Lestat is pronounced Les-dot, due to his French background. All in all, the depiction of Lestat was alright (until the sequel, but that’s a whole other blog post).
Daniel however, looks nothing like he should. In the books, Daniel has blond hair, violet eyes, and is a great deal younger than he’s depicted in the film, in the first book he’s only referred to as ‘The boy’. The film also manages to misspell his surname, instead of Daniel Molloy we get Daniel Malloy who looks nothing like his origins;
I can see why Claudia is depicted differently in the film. The original Claudia is a six year old who has the mind of a fully-functioning adult. It would be incredibly difficult to cast a six year old that fits the bill, so I’ll let them off with the twelve year old
However, I can’t forgive them for what they did to Armand. In the books, Armand is a red-headed, cherub-looking teenager who was born in Russia and then raised then in Italy. And who do we get…?
That’s right folks! Antonio Banderas. Not who I was picturing either…
The most glaringly difference between the film and the books is the lack of gay vampires. The Vampire Chronicles are well known for their homo-eroticism which they tried to cover up throughout the film. One of the best scenes in the novel is where shortly after turning Louis into a vampire, Lestat reveals that he has conveniently forgotten that Louis would need a separate coffin, and thus the pair have to sleep together. This was obviously ‘too gay’ for the film, and Louis instead occasionally shares a coffin with Claudia.
The film is constantly pushing the fact the idea that Louis and Claudia are involved, however in the original material the trio create a family with Lestat as the father, Louis as the mother and Claudia as their daughter. This cover up of the characters homosexuality means that the ending of the film had to be changed, where Louis and Armand end up together in the book, the couple almost share a kiss on screen and then go their separate ways. Similarly, a lot of the back stories of the characters were changed and in Louis’ case this appears to be an attempt to solidify his heterosexuality. Instead of the cause of Louis’ depression being the death of his brother, Louis was instead given a wife and children for his angsty back story.
There are also a number of issues with the depiction of vampires’ physiology. When turning Louis, Lestat appears to fly, which is an ability he doesn’t gain until far later on in the book series. Furthermore, when the vampires cry in the film, they cry normal tears. Anne Rice’s vampires are supposed to cry blood, a trait which is better depicted in the True Blood TV series.
The ending of the film suggests that Lestat turned Daniel in to a vampire. Which isn’t at all what happened in the novel. Daniel wanted to find Lestat, but found Armand instead. The pair started a relationship and Daniel wasn’t turned into a vampire until the third novel in which Daniel is dying from alcohol poisoning and Armand finds that he has no other choice than to turn him.
Overall, a lot of the plot is drastically changed, and Interview with the Vampire is a pretty good example of the systematic erasure of queer characters in the media. Which isn’t exactly what you’d expect if you’ve read the books…
Let me know what you think! Did you love or hate the adaptation of Interview with the Vampire? Did it live up to your expectations? Let me know in the comments.