I decided this week to make my blog post related to the graphic novel, but not actually about the novel itself.
Vampires have always been a bit of an obsession of mine. Truth be told, in high school, I was kind of a goth. Okay, not kind of- I was a full “daughter” of the “Darkness.” I wish I could go back and smack my teenage self. What an idiot…
Anyway, now that I have grown out of my ugly-duckling phase and become an adult (hallelujah!), I still have a very fond love of the Undead. I have always been an avid reader, and books about these mythical creatures attracted me. I devoured them- everything from Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire to Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight (shame on me…) to Melissa De La Cruz’s Blue Bloods and pretty much everything in-between. These books shaped how I viewed the world, and myself.
When the movie adaptations of some of these works of literature made their debuts, I was naturally pretty curious. I went to see them to see how Hollywood had treated some of my most beloved characters. I was very disappointed in some of them, but very intrigued by others. I made several observations about the differences, and that’s what I want to talk about here. I;m going to be using Interview with the Vampire as an example, since it is my favorite book of all time, as well as the best movie adaptation I think there is in this genre.
So, to start off, let’s summarize the book.
We have a boy interviewing a vampire in the beginning. We find out that this is the main character, Louis. He begins telling the boy his life story, from the night he was turned all the way up to present day. We meet the vampire who turned him- Lestat-
as well as several others in the undead community. Much action takes place in the story, including several arsons, murders, and some romance. I’ll let you read the book to find out exactly how the story ends. What I want to do now is make some comparisons between the 1976 book and the 1994 film.
In the book: Louis is depressed because his brother died.
In the movie: Louis is depressed because his wife and child die (which there is no mention of in the book for a VERY surprising reason…)
In the book: Claudia is 4 or 5 years old.
In the movie: Kirsten Dunst portrays her at 12 years old. (She may look young for her age, but 8 years is a stretch…)
In the book: Lestat takes care of his aging father, and brings him along upon moving
In the movie: Lestat is alone and does not speak of his past.
In the book: Louis and Armand travel together after the death of Claudia.
In the movie: Louis cannot forgive Armand and wanders off on his own for many years.
In the book: The boy interviewing him asks to be turned. Louis gets angry, sucks his blood, and leaves him unconscious.
In the movie: Louis beats him up, but no blood-sucking occurs.
In the book: Armand mind-controls Louis into creating Madeline.
In the movie: Louis decides to do it himself.
There are several more comparisons I could make, and some really good ones here if you’re interested. My main point is this: Hollywood likes to make things more dramatic, more romantic, more interesting than they actually are, because it seems that now-a-days, sex is what sells. Drama is what sells. Action is what sells. A good portion of the book Interview with the Vampire is just the characters walking around the streets of New Orleans or Paris or somewhere else in Europe, encountering humans and other vampires, and the conversations they have. It’s not an action-packed work, and that just doesn’t function in film.
I think this is a good example of a well-done- although altered- book-to-movie adaptation. The characters were how I imagined them, and the plot generally stayed the same. The thing that I have been wondering about Life Sucks is this: how would it stand up in Hollywood? Would it hold its own? Would the characters be sexualized, dramatized, and altered in unrecognizable ways? Or would we be able to watch it and feel satisfied, knowing that they kept the story true to the original?
I think it would make a great movie, or even a mini-series on television. It’s very relative to young adults today, and yes, it’s depressing, but isn’t that reality sometimes? I think more people would relate to it than we realize. Maybe we should get Mrs. Abel on the phone…
Side note: I have included my very favorite passage from the book at the bottom here, as well as the original trailer for the movie. Enjoy!
“‘I wanted love and goodness in this which is living death,’ I said. ‘It was impossible from the beginning, because you cannot have love and goodness when you do what you know to be evil, what you know to be wrong. You can only have the desperate confusion and longing and the chasing of phantom goodness in its human form. I knew the real answer to my quest before I ever reached Paris. I knew it when I first took a human life to feed my craving. It was my death. And yet I would not accept it, could not accept it, because like all creatures I don’t wish to die! And so I sought for other vampires, for God, for the devil, for a hundred things under a hundred names. And it was all the same, all evil. And all wrong. Because no one could in any guise convince me of what I myself knew to be true, that I was damned in my own mind and soul. And when I came to Paris I thought you were powerful and beautiful and without regret, and I wanted that desperately. But you were a destroyer just as I was a destroyer, more ruthless and cunning even than I. You showed me the only thing that I could really hope to become, what depth of evil, what degree of coldness I would have to attain to end my pain. And I accepted that. And so that passion, that love you saw in me, was extinguished. And you see now simply a mirror of yourself.'”
-Louis, to Armand; Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire.