Interview with the Vampire


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Brad Pitt made his mark as Louis de Pointe du Lac in the film version of Interview with the Vampire.
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Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) prepares to take a victim in Interview with the Vampire.

Interview with the Vampire

(pop culture)

Interview with the Vampire, the first vampire novel by Anne Rice, appeared in 1976. As sequels were produced in the late 1980s, it became known as the first volume of a saga, The Vampire Chronicles. In 1994 a movie based upon it starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirsten Dunst, and Antonio Banderas became one of the largest-grossing films of that year. The book introduced one of the most important contemporary vampire characters, Lestat de Lioncourt, and has gone on to become the second best-selling vampire novel of all time, second only to Bram Stoker‘s Dracula. The novel is presented as a story-within-a-story. Louis (Pitt), a 200-year-old vampire, met with a journalist to tell his story and try to prove the truth of his tale. Louis’s story began when he became a vampire in colonial Louisiana. In the midst of a period of despair, he was found by Lestat (Cruise), a vampire who had come to Louisiana from France. Once changed, the two lived at Louis’ plantation outside New Orleans until the slaves figured out that their master had become a creature of the night and drove them away. They then established themselves in the city where Lestat indulged himself and Louis worried about killing humans in order to survive.

A short time later the pair was joined by Claudia (Dunst), a five-year-old orphan child whom Louis made into a vampire. Seven years afterward, resentful that she had been trapped in the body of a child, Claudia attempted to kill Lestat, and she and Louis left for Europe. In Paris, they encountered a group of vampires who operated out of a theater, using the facilities as their home and the draw from the shows as income. Louis was very much impressed with one of their number, Armand (Banderas). Afraid of being abandoned, Claudia demanded that Louis create a vampire out of a childless woman, Madeleine, to act as Claudia’s surrogate mother.

All was fine until the group at the Theatre of the Vampires discovered that Claudia had attempted and nearly succeeded in killing their benefactor Lestat, who had provided them with the theater. They kidnapped Louis, Claudia, and Madeleine, and locked the two females in a room where they were consumed in the morning sun. Louis was confined to a coffin, but released by Armand. In retaliation, he set fire to the theater and killed most of the vampires. He then left with Armand and had a meeting with Lestat in New Orleans.

Interview with the Vampire explores numerous themes relevant to the vampire myth: sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular, the role of community in vampiric existence, the nature of vampirism in a secular age, and the morality of murder. All of the strong characters in the book are male, with the exception of the child Claudia. The vampires, however, live in a communal setting quite distinct from most previous vampires who were overwhelmingly loners. Rice’s vampires have no problem with religious symbols and know nothing of God or a sacred space. Lestat, who emerges from the novel as the most appealing character, has little thought for taking life if that is the way he will survive. With the exception of Claudia, the main characters in Interview with the Vampire would reappear multiple times in the succeeding novels.

The novel has been translated into a number of languages, including most of the European languages, and Chinese and Japanese. It has been reproduced on cassette tape and CD and in a number of deluxe and souvenir editions. Fans of the book and its sequels gathered annually through the 1990s in New Orleans for a Halloween party put on by the Anne Rice Vampire Lestat Fan Club.

Sources:

Ramsland, Katherine. The Vampire Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993. 507 pp.
Rice, Anne. Interview with the Vampire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976. 372 pp. Rept. New York: Ballantine, 1979. 346 pp.
References in periodicals archive ?
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