Saturday, July 02, 2011

Saturday at the Movies #42 - Interview With The Vampire - Book vs Movie

I hadn't planned to watch Interview With the Vampire at all, but there it was on BBC America while I was catsitting, so I hit record and let it sit for a while. Neither Brad Pitt nor Tom Cruise are actors whose work I seek out, and I will admit that it's difficult for me to watch either gentleman's performances without their tabloid exploits edging into the frame. So that may have colored my experience to some degree, and then there's the author's impressions of this casting choice. I'll give my standard response to the question of who I would have cast - have a cattle call audition and whoever gives the best reading gets the part. Character descriptions to be taken from the original manuscript, and please prepare a monologue from same. Best readings of each role go on to read a scene so we can get the right chemistry. At least that's how we do things at Hypothetical Studios.

Kirsten Dunst, though, kicked child actor tushie as Claudia, and I understand why Movie!Claudia was about double the age of Book!Claudia. The role looks to me like it would be too much for a younger actor, both in amount of work and content of the material. We at Hypothetical Studios do not intentionally traumatize our actors of any age. Though I read the book after watching the movie, I found it very easy to create my own images of Louis and Lestat as I read, and neither bore any resemblance to the film's actors.

For the actual book vs movie comparison, I 'll go straight to the heart of the matter: book. By about a mile. I do appreciate that Anne Rice adapted her own work from novel to screenplay, and if a novel is to be adapted, that's the way I prefer it to go. Let the one who told the story tell the story, but at the same time, transferring from one medium to another is going to require some changes.

I do think it says something, though, about the adaptation if a viewer who has not read the book can tell what was changed or left out of the movie version. While I do understand why Anne Rice made some of the changes she did - changing Louis' brother to wife and infant, for example, omitting Lestat's father entirely, or assigning one of Gabrielle's discoveries from The Vampire Lestat to Claudia in this film) for me, the original format gave me a deeper experience, which is what I'd hoped to find.

The film was gorgeous, and the use of light and dark fit the story beautifully. The fact that I had to sit down and write out several pages of notes afterwards does say something about the effectiveness of the movie version, but the clincher was that I had to find the book so that I could get the real story. For me, in both, Louis is the central figure, his humanity even in the face of his undeath making him a memorable and unique character.

For me, the book gave me a more intimate view into Louis' essence, and that's what tipped the scales. His conflicted nature, self doubt, and different attempts to come to terms with the changes in his life (and death) left an impression on me and I can see where this would be a role many actors would find challenging.

My favorite part of the movie were the opening and closing bits, with Louis and Daniel (again, the book wins here; I prefer Daniel being referred to as only "the boy.") I found Brad Pitt's performance very effective in those scenes, as though Louis were still weighing how much to share, and then ultimately his frustration that Daniel Did Not Get The Point.

While I've appreciated Sting's music for quite a while, I didn't connect "Moon Over Bourbon Street" to Interview With The Vampire until I'd discovered the story for myself, and have to add myself to the fans who think it should have been included in the movie. Still good, though, and I can play it before rereading the book, so all's well there.

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