“Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

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Better not to watch

A belief in vampires and other undead the more popular, the deeper in a society the crisis of faith in general. Not only the belief in religious traditions, but also in social institutes, faith, strangely, in science. Throughout the last three centuries in Western culture we observe distinctive pendulum’s strokes. Approximately in the end of the first quarter of a century an interest towards science arouses in a society, as to a power, which may help to solve very nearly all hard questions of humanity. In the midst of each century and all the way up to the end of the last quarter of it we see just universal delight from achievements of science and technology, which make this faith stronger. The Enlightenment of 18th century passes through the technological revolution of the 19th century, and then into a breakthrough of scientific and technical progress of the 20th century. But by the end of another century the disappointment in previous ideals is being accumulated, and an underset happens. And so here at the end of eras the time for Romantics and Gothic fiction (boundary of XVIII- XIX ages), decadence (XIX -XX) and black fantasy (XX-XXI) comes. And each time among other things appears an influx of popularity of vampire stories.

Therefore, this subject prevails in western literature for a rather long time, even though, perhaps, firstly, truly serious attention to it paid Bram Stoker in a novel “Dracula” (1897), in which had forever defined a stereotype of a typical vampire. In XX century the vampire theme in so-called “enlightened” circles has begun actively developed not only by means of literature, but also cinematograph, and in consequence of massiveness of this trend the search of new images and meanings, which authors lead, trying to bring something new and attract attention, is not surprising. As a result happens gradual change of a trope of a vampire, at that often the change is so radical, that there is just a name from the image left.

Here we ought to say a couple of words about Russian tradition. Indeed, the term “vampire” came to Russia from the West, replacing an analogous folkloristic character of eastern Slavs – “ghoul” (also one may meet the synonym “ghast”). However, despite from a ghoul, which image has always been solely negative, and which has nothing in common with romantics, a vampire has been actively positioned by the western cinematograph throughout the last years as an improved form of a human with mere advantages (eternal youth, beauty, wisdom of generations, power, speed, superabilities etc.), apart from the small well-known disadvantage, which is repeatedly being justified.

The evolutionary tendency of the translated image of a vampire is in its gradual integration into a modern society. The vampire became integrated in a culture of a modern civilization, and many have already forgotten, that it some time ago applied to one certain mythological tradition and was filled with unambiguously negative content. Among other things that’s why in modern works vampires stop responding on elements, connected to separate traditional folk or religious perceptions: they don’t die from garlic, reflect in mirrors and are not allergic to holy symbols.

So, who are they, the “modern vampires”? And which traits are intrinsic to the modern vampire cinematograph? In this article we are going to try to answer these questions on an example of a cultic movie of 1994 “Interview with the vampire: the vampire chronicles”, which has been filmed after the novel of Anne Rice, and from which another breakout of vampire genre has begun. Also the author also considers necessary to provide some examples from the received heavy coverage saga “Twilight”, which plot, seemingly, is well-known, and does not need to be presented here.

The plot of “Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles”

A cultic film of an Irish director-producer Neil Jordan. The film was premiered in 1994, total box office throughout the world – 223 million dollars.

destructiveness of vampire theme 1 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

In the middle of the plot – is a Creole from Louisiana Louis (Brad Pitt), who had been turned into a vampire in 1791, and after two ages decided to tell a young reporter the story of his life. After the death of his wife in labor, Louis is looking for death in despair, but the fate prepares for him another destiny – he becomes a vampire on his own accord. Together with his creator Lestat (Tom Cruise) they move to New Orleans, where at that time the plague is rampant. Here Louis is trying to taste the blood of a little girl Claudia (Kirsten Dunst), who has lost her mother. Lestat does not let the girl die and turns her into a small vampire in order to hold Louis close to himself.

As Claudia grows up, her relationship with Louis are starting to carry a romantic character. As a result Louis and Claudia decide to kill Lestat in revenge, that he made her a never-mature child, and run away on a ship to Paris. In the Old World they perfectly spend time together, until meet a whole clan of vampires at the head of the oldest vampire in the world Armand. However this acquaintance soon turns out with a lynch law of vampires on Claudia, because she has been an initiator of the murder of her kind.

Armand saves Louis, willing his to become his guide into a changed word of people. But Louis, sadden with the death of his beloved Claudia, cruelly takes revenge on the group of vampires, refuses Armand and returns to New Orleans. There he meets Lestat, who finally survived, but leaves him as well, preferring to wander alone. Louis also refuses to give an eternal life to a young reporter, who writes down the vampire’s confession about his life. However, this can not be said about Lestat, who suddenly appears in the final of the picture. Lestat offers him the option that he “never had” to become a vampire, as they drive over the Golden Gate Bridge.


So below are presented destructive tendencies, typical for a modern vampire cinematograph. But, first, before we turn to an analysis of the demonstrated in the film images, let’s point out the main:

An essence of any vampire – is mandatory parasitic – i.e. to live by killing others. By that reason the image of vampires in movies, as well as any other evil, which in virtue of artistic frames has no chance for reformation/returning to a human’s non-parasite life, should be pictured as extremely unpleasant, repellent in appearance and unambiguously negative. And if one remembers, that vampires are commonly are being defined as “nonliving/dead substance, the undead”, then a traditional to us loathly image of a “ghoul”, “ghast” is optimal for this set of thematic qualities, intrinsic to a character.      

Feel the difference.

Normal image:

destructiveness of vampire theme 2 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Manipulation / doublespeak:

destructiveness of vampire theme 3 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

In this connection the whole further analysis of a meaty part of the film – presents by itself an implemented by film’s script writers digging in “shades of gray”, which nevertheless one needs to carry, in order to demonstrate the falsity of that positive halo, which has been formed around this picture and around the vampire theme in general.

Blurring the borders of the good and the evil

- Humanization of a vampire:

In the film “Interview with the Vampire: the Vampire Chronicles” all vampires have a human appearance and live in a world of people, regularly “get out into the world”. Clothes, manners of behavior, nothing gives out other creatures in them, except for, maybe, pale skin. Such humanization of the image of a vampire (in traditional terminology “ghoul/ghast”) – is itself nothing more than blurring the borders of the good and the evil.

- «Good» and «bad» vampires:

Nowadays in the vampire cinematograph the idea, that among vampires all is not lost, is actively being implemented, it appears that in the vampire environment there are “conscious” personalities, who either suffer from their demonic essence, being unable to resist it, or adopt the path of alteration, raven upon, say, the blood of animals or donated blood, and just periodically snapping at long pig.

Stricken by remorse, that he has to kill people, Louis suddenly learns, that he can also drink the blood of animals and birds (“One may live like that, with the help of murder animals?”. On which Lestat states: “This is not life, but survival… this is vegetation”). And even after that Louis can’t control himself and kills a young slave (what about “sorry, but I still respect other’s life”?)

destructiveness of vampire theme 4 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Still, one needs to do justice to Louis’s stamina, in New Orleans he at first drunk the blood of rats, until met her – Claudia. From that moment, as she has appeared in their “family”, Louis as if forgets about his high-minded intentions (“you are – what you are”), and they three plunge into adventure – dispatch with “whole families”, drink blood recklessly. At that Claudia happens to be the most talented in this and at once beings to enjoy (as a “fretty child, who nobody can stop”). Lestat also over and over again tries to bring in distemper the heart of Louis: one “may” kill criminals – they are “tastier”; “and what if there is no hell or you are not needed there?” And here is Louis now not advising Claudia to eat rates, as he did some time ago. Further Louis presents Claudia a “mother”, turning a woman into a vampire (at this point “everything left from a human has died in him”).

For all that Louis, thanks to a row of plot’s insertions and the general division on “positive” and “negative” evildoers, is being positioned as a positive character, such a “good” vampire. First of all, he, as well as Claudia, considers himself a victim of egoist Lestat, who had, seemingly, got simply bored from living alone, and so created himself a company. Here we can see an example of using a trick of “vice against one’s will”. And let he has suffered a bit from remorse for killing his creator, Louis still considers this act quite fare. Second of all, let’s not forget, that Louis and Lestat converted Claudia together (Louis – killed her, Lestat – gave a new life), however, since she loves Louis, she decides to hate Lestat alone. The plot obviously sympathizes to Louis. The case is that Louis – is the suffering vampire (“thinks about someone’s broken heart”), he refuses “to be powerful, handsome and not to know remorse”. This strips his from the crowd of his kind.

Armand, the wisest of all existing vampires, soliloquizes: “having learned the essence of vice, one does not need to become evil… And is it really learning the so-called good makes you necessarily kind?” Lestat repeats him with his philosophy: “You define yourself, what is evil… and there is nobody in the world closer to God, than us”.  

Therefore in the film we see “good” and ‘bad” evil. The “good” in the person of Louis and Armand, Claudia and her newly-qualified “mother”, who became victims of the “bad” vampires, longing for vengeance. Lestat can rather be categorized as “bad”, however, a viewer is supposed to partly sympathize him for his optimism, charisma, decisiveness, strongly differing him from a “whimperer Louis”. This approves in the final, when the reporter, having heard Louis story, has a burning desire to become like him, to possess a “black gift”. Louis’s story has not consequently became instructive (movie’s creators sought opposite goals). As a final point in the end of the film not a moment too soon appears Lestat, ready to do the reporter’s will and together leave in search of adventure. To be a vampire is still so cool!

11309295 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

In consequence: despite from the fact, that after summing up his vampire life, Louis regrets, that he had not died together with his wife and his child, and that he wishes this fate to nobody, the reporter (and a great part of viewers together with him, seduced by an attractive side of the dark force) still decides to “come down to the evil side”. The plot is well disposed him in this decision.

vicious spheres, is significantly provided with all-pervading sexual eroticism of the edge of forbidden. All murder scenes in the “Interview with the Vampire…” are sexualized: the process of drinking blood exceedingly resembles a sexual acts, at that by no means always classical; in many cases Louis and Lestat together were blowing up with some victim. And the scene with murdering a girl from a tavern is accompanied by the sex performance on the scene of the tavern in order the viewer has no doubt: the murder of the girl by two vampires – is an allusion of thruple.

destructiveness of vampire theme 5 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

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Vampires’ activity usually happens under cloud of night by moonlight, which itself is romantic. In general the image of a modern vampire is romanticized: grief in the eyes, he has many secrets and is not like anyone else, since has crossed the line; a romantic hero often elegizes about “real” death, strains after it, but can’t reach (and in reality does not want, since even a vampire according to the plot is usually vulnerable).

destructiveness of vampire theme 7 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Image of attractive evil

Despite its parasite essence in the modern cinematograph vampires are usually being pictured extremely attractive – beautiful, young, strong, sexy, wise, glamorous, their life is full of adventure, travel and so on. In spite of boring human’s life, in which one has to work, grow old, suffer from pain etc. And look, how effective they fight with their kind, any sportsmen would be jealous of their physical abilities. A vampire is immortal, practically higher being. With hand on heart a temptation to become one of them as they are being pictured in the modern cinematograph, is strong, all the more one needs next to nothing – to be bitten.

In the film “Interview with the Vampire: the Vampire Chronicles” death as described by Lestat – is a release from the boredom of life. He “tastily” tells Louis about doubtless advantages of a new life, not mentioning the price, which he would have to pay. Seemingly, for Lestat – everyday murders of people are not even the price (“It is easy to kill. One just needs to forget about human’s feelings. And you will soon get used to it”). At that a murder for Lestat must be beautiful, aesthetic performance. Together with charisma of this character a viewer involuntarily gets inspired with sympathy to him, so critical thinking is starting to weaken.

destructiveness of vampire theme 8 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

One this subject, please, also read the artcile: «The Vampire Diaries»: Image of Attractive Evil for Youth. 

Desacralization of death

In a vampire Death and Immortality are joined together paradoxically. This is glamorous, seductive, sweet, but still Death. For example, what we see in the “Twilight”? Bella from weak, exhausted, senescent human, having become dead, turns into a beautiful strong woman, into an “improved” version of herself. The authors as if hint, that death = brand new life. And hundreds of girls and boys throughout the world following Bella from the “Twilight” choke with a hysterical moan: “Bite!”

destructiveness of vampire theme 9 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Generally there is one useful trick, which often is used by authors of such movie: turning into a vampire as a way of saving from death/disease. Noble death – is a paradox. In the “Interview with the Vampire: the Vampire Chronicles” in such a way has been turned little Claudia, in the “Twilight” – Edward Cullen, Bella.

A viewer normally does not like, when the main hero of a film, with whom he identifies himself, dies. That’s why there are few such movies – more often die minor characters. The vampire movie is fully impregnated with murders of such “unimportant” for the sake of “living” of special. A viewer is becoming less perceptive of things; all these crimes are perceived as inevitable evil, as granted and in general as an integral part of the genre.


Apart from the main sides, uncovering harmfulness of vampire theme in its modern execution, we have also observed a row of other important moments:

Propaganda of idle lifestyle

We won’t deepen too much in an obvious fact, that due to their invincibility, superabilities vampires are needless to think about earning a “living”. The “Twilight” sage – is a bright example of it, where using her ability to predict future, Edward’s sister successfully predicted price fluctuations, allowing the whole family to live comfortably and even richly. In the film “Interview with the Vampire: the Vampire Chronicles” this task has been solved even more simple – a vampire had just to force the liked thing.

destructiveness of vampire theme 10 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Modern audience, certainly, likes this situation, where one does not need to think about such “rubbish” as work, economy, savings and input all his energy into relationships, suffering, travelling, soul searching etc.

Propaganda of drugs

Blood is identified with alcohol, being poured in wineglasses (“Interview with the Vampire…”), savored its taste. The blood of particularly desired victims is even worse: “You’re like a drug for me, my own personal brand of heroin…”) tells Edward Cullen to Bella.

destructiveness of vampire theme 11 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Lestat tells Louis, that the first feelings from drinking human’s blood are the brightest. Resembling the first senses from drug consumption.

In the “Interview with the Vampire…” is also being actively promoted smoking: a young reporter constantly smokes on camera, in a separate moment there is even a special accent made on smoking:

- Reporter: «I assume, you, as a vampire, are not afraid to die from cancer».

- Louis: «No» (smiling).

A viewer here involuntary relaxes, there is nothing to be afraid, apart from the fact, that a human smokes, not a vampire.

destructiveness of vampire theme 12 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Childfree ideology and depreciation of a family institute

Which kids are we talking about, if vampires stiff in their appearance and can’t, at least in a normal biological way, reproduce? A phycology of a vampire differs from a human’s – they don’t need a future in the form of children, since they themselves are past, present and future.

But here again the “Twilight” stands apart from the rest vampire movie – Bella manages to deliver from the vampire. Not a human has been born, but something strange, not alive and not dead, but, of course, a beautific and sweet creature. The movie again resorts to ploys for all young fan-girls: one can live with a monster and give birth to a child from him. A monster – is not a verdict, and you – are a heroine, who as a result got everything and even more, as a bonus. Even if a viewer does not adopt this consciously, namely this algorithmic is being fixed in her subconscious.

destructiveness of vampire theme 13 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Considering family institute depreciation in general, here again everything is quite clear. Real families of those, who had become vampires, died a long time ago or will die anyway. Here in films usually sounds a mishappening. That’s why vampires are trying to form attachments, alike family ties, joining with each other in clans. However, this kind of attachment is not that deep, since vampires are in general independent from anything or anyone, while a family is being built on principles of mutual aid. There is an overwhelming temptation to quit everything, and to find a better place. Whereas a family – is forever.

A viewer of the “Interview with the Vampire…” has not, perhaps, focused his attention on how easily Claudia forgot her mother and joined a new non-standard (same-sex) family, and that she had never had a father. Later she is ready to make her vampire “mother” anyone, if only not to stay all alone, i.e. for reasons of her egoism only. Armand, in hope to get himself a new more interesting and perspective “life partner”, also easily despatches with his family (a vampire clan), rather does not prevent from their burning, since they has just annoyed him, “freezed in their time”, and he decides, that they have nothing to live for anymore.

Whitewash and justification of a vampire/ghoul/ghast in any form automatically attracts a row of other subjects:

Cannibalism

Well, which vampire theme will have to do without it, you may ask. On a background of standard “hungry” murders of people by vampires, one can highlight two interesting moments:

1) Turning Louis into a vampire (as well as any other character into a vampire) happens the following way: at first a vampire drinks blood, while a person is still alive, then already a converted person has to taste the vampire’s blood. So, a viewer sees, how Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise taste each other in shot;

2) Louis enjoys the blood of a boy in vampires’ lair in Paris, does not kill him, but just a bit put his teeth to his wrist. Then the boy is being led to the rest of the vampires. Later a viewer may see that the very same boy drives a carriage with Armand, who saves Louis from the dawn. I.e. this alive boy had been used by the vampires not a one time as their treat. This is classless, agree?

destructiveness of vampire theme 14 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Pedophilia

Why namely the blood of a child has impressed Louis specially (“and then I understood, what Lestat had been talking about … for the first time in a long period I recovered poise”, “remember, how you’d wanted her?”), that he could not resist any more to his vampire essence and wanted to kill a person, not an animal, as he used to do? In the movie this act, of course, is being put as a “merciful death”. But what happens next? It is not hard to guess, that if a vampire does not get old in appearance that she does not grow as well. Trapped forever in a child’s body, Claudia at first sleeps together with Louis, “fingering over his hair”, then asks for a separate coffin for her. Some more time later Claudia on the inside turned into a grown-up woman, with whom Louis already has an affair. He ambiguously talks about her: “My beloved, my child”, not denying at the same time, that he loves her namely as a woman. However, a viewer stills sees on the screen the little girl near the adult man.

destructiveness of vampire theme 15 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

Perversions

The author of the book, after which the movie has been filmed, likes to describe different sexual perversions very much, that’s why in the film this theme is indirectly presented. This is the fact of “adopting” a girl by two men, calling themselves a family (“Louis wanted to leave us”, “we are a happy family”). Lestat played in this domesticity so much, that he is even thinking about getting Claudia a brother or a sister. He is trying to hold Louis with a child, in analogous with how a wife could be trying to hold a husband. Then the “family” still breaks apart, Louis with Claudia leave Lestat, already as a couple. This is Louis claim: “we can be a good couple”, at that gently holding Armand by his head. This is the fact, that Lestat preferred “first course” – girls, “second course”- boys, and “third course” – someone much “older”, than he is.

destructiveness of vampire theme 16 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

destructiveness of vampire theme 17 “Interview with the Vampire” (1994): Destructiveness of a vampire theme in modem cinematograph

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As further development of cinematograph shows, throughout the last 20 years after the film “Interview with the Vampire…” release, the listed above tendencies have become even stronger, meaning, that their inclusion in the plot is not accidental. It is pretty hard to evaluate the destructive influence of such films on the mind of an extemporaneous audience, which does not realize the used technology of manipulation, but many of those, who have bothered to leave a comment on this film, call it a “masterpiece”. Meaning, that in regard to them, this informational diversion, led by the film’s creators and sponsors, has worked quite effective. In their worldview picture have been implemented the “shades of gray”, which can echo painfully in real life.

Daria Egorova

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