Book vs Film: Queen of the Damned

As bad an adaption as Interview with the Vampire is, it is a fact, universally acknowledged, that Queen of the Damned is so much worse. Warner Bros. had ten years to make films out of the first three Vampire Chronicle novels; Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned. The studio was already into its last year of owning the rights before they would have transferred back Anne Rice, so in a frantic rush the remaining two books were squished into one movie which just barely resembled its source material.

Characters:

In my blog about Interview with the Vampire, I pointed out that one of the most drastic changes of the film were the difference in character designs. Queen of the Damned has very similar issues, there are also a number of key characters who were just ignored. To name a few; Louis de Pointe du Lac (remember him from the first film?), Nicolas de Lenfent (a personal favourite of mine), Gabrielle (Lestats mother), Baby Jenks and the Fang Gang, Daniel, Mekare, etc.

Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire was a pretty accurate depiction of Lestat de Lioncourt. He turned down the role, which was instead given to Stuart Townsend. So instead of our blond haired, blue eyed Frenchman, we get;

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No you are not. I actually think Stuart Townstead behaved more like Lestat when he was depicting Dorian Grey in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman.

We also have Marius. Marius is described in the book as being a tall Roman, with long blond hair. The film variant doesn’t have quite the same impact.

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But a large part of Marius’ characterisation was that he had dibs on the colour red, so at least they got that right.

Similarly, we have David, who is seventy years old (until The Tale of the Body Thief, where he gets a hot new body). The David in the film isn’t quite as aged as his original counterpart, probably to hint that he could have a relationship with Jesse without it being creepy.

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Remember the terrible depiction of Armand in Interview with the Vampire? Well, our red headed cherub now looks like this:

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Yeah, I don’t think they tried either.

Plot Changes:

The film focuses mainly on Lestat, which is a shame because the novel Queen of the Damned skipped around a lot, showing what different vampires were doing whilst Lestat was gearing up to his concert. One of the best of these subplots was the relationship between Armand and Daniel, and I will forever be upset that this got no screen time. Just look at these cuties:

Once Armand had dragged Daniel out of bed in New Orleans and shouted at him: “That telephone, I want you to dial Paris, I want to see if you can really talk to Paris.”

“Goddam it, do it yourself,” Daniel had roared “You’re five hundred years old and you can’t use a telephone? Read the directions. What are you? An immortal idiot? I will do no such thing!” How surprised Armand had looked. “All right, I’ll call Paris for you. But you pay the bill.”

“But of course,” Armand had said innocently. He had drawn dozens of hundred-dollar bills out of his coat, sprinkling them on Daniels bed.

I can see why they focus is predominantly on Lestat, as the premise for the film was it combines The Vampire Lestat with Queen of the Damned. However, they might as well have just skipped The Vampire Lestat all together as they did almost nothing about Lestat’s history and what they did, they got wrong. Nicholas and Gabrielle were completely ignored, which is a shame as they had a massive impact on Lestats development. Then there’s the artistic license of Marius being Lestat’s creator. In the novel, Lestat works as a performer and is stalked by Magnus who kidnaps him and turns him into a vampire shortly before burning himself. This explains why in the first film, Lestat references that he had no choice in his becoming a vampire and that he was never taught the finer aspects of being a vampire. Marius is instead Armands creator, but this is changed for the film and if you accept that Marius was Lestats maker, Lestat just seems like a bit of a jerk when he won’t tell Louis anything that he learnt. On a similar note, Marius didn’t turn Daniel into a vampire either. He seems to keep getting the blame for that…

If you want a more accurate depiction of Lestats history, you’re probably better off checking out the Elton John musical ‘The Vampire Lestat’. The script is pretty terrible and it’s easy to see how it was cancelled, but there are videos floating about and it’s worth taking a look at.

Due to the increased focus on Lestat, the film misses out the biggest plot point of Queen of the Damned; the tale of the twins. The twins Maharet and Mekare (who was left out of the film completely) were witches in Ancient Egypt. When they tried to eat their mother’s heart and brain at her funeral (following their customs), Akasha sent out an army who killed everyone and kidnapped the twins. The twins were raped by Khayman as punishment and Maharet had a baby (which is how she has human descendants). Mekare called on a spirit, Amel, to help her and the spirit developed a taste for blood, and ended up in the body of Akasha, who became the first vampire. This was completely left out of the films and nothing about the history of vampires is explained other than the fact that Akasha is the oldest around.

By cutting out a lot of Lestats back story, what they kept in needed to be altered to make sense. So in the film, Lestat plays the violin which just happens to fly off and alert him to the presence of the secret chamber. First off, Lestat was never a musician. He was an actor and Nicholas was the musician, known for his violin playing. Of course, they cut Nicholas out of Lestats history, something that I can never forgive them for. Similarly, in the book Marius shows Lestat the temple which he made, instead of Lestat just happening to stumble across it; a much flimsier plot-point.

As well as ignoring the history of the vampires, Queen of the Damned misunderstands Rices physiology. In the film, Lestat is able to walk out into the sun unharmed. Which isn’t how vampires work. At his strongest point in the books, Lestat flies as high as he can towards the sun during daylight and, although he does survive, he suffers very extreme burns. However, this film does introduce Rice’s depiction of vampires crying blood which is interesting as the Interview with the Vampire movie ignored this completely.

Interview with the Vampire very obviously glossed over the homo-eroticism of its source material. Similarly in Queen of the Damned, instead of being reunited with Louis, Lestat ends up with Jesse. Lestat does have female lovers during the course of the books, but never Jesse. It seems more like an attempt to give him a typical ‘happy ever after’ in which he gets the girl.

Interestingly the most accurate part of the film is an exchange between Marius and Armand which was deleted from the final cut:

Marius: Armand?
Armand: You thought I was dead and gone…
Marius: You sound bitter.

If you’ve read Blood and Gold, you’ll know that this is pretty hilarious, given the relationship between the pair. This is also the scene were a lot of the Ancients were introduced, so if you haven’t read the books, you’ll have absolutely no idea who these characters are. Poorly played movie.

That’s all I have to say for this review. Let me know what you think about this awful adaption. In closing, I’ll leave you my favourite piece of movie trivia:

Stuart Townsend (who played Lestat) shares his name with a character from another Anne Rice novel, The Witching Hour. Upon meeting Townsend, Rice handed him a copy of the book and instructed him to turn to a certain page number, whereupon was written ‘The Life of Stuart Townsend’. Townsend was flattered that she had written him into her new book, until she told him that she had written it eleven years prior.

 

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4 thoughts on “Book vs Film: Queen of the Damned

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  3. andrea

    I just read The Vampire Armand again after I dont know how many years; I saw it at the library and grabbed that and Pandora.
    I remember feeling slighted when watching both Interview and Queen, mostly as I now recall, due to the screen adaptation of Armand. Antonio Banderas as a 17 year old man-child from Kiev during the Renneisance. Damn dude. Rough. Then..some blonde kid with shitty gold nails in Queen…man. I always thought Armand was this alluring(in a fucked up creepy way) cupidy-type, tortured brat….and I loved it!
    Books to movie are never a pleasant experience, but I enjoy gauging whether the screen adaptation matches my own image I have created. I feel like most of the characters in Queen were thrown together with haste and its a shame. Interview at least had the snot-pomp of Cruise and the mournful Louis played well enough by Mr. Pitt.
    *fail.

    Reply
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