'Interview with the Vampire' is an atmospheric, highly gripping "film involving vampires" - not a "vampire movie". Whilst the latter would describe a film that focuses on its vampirism and might be judged on the sharpness of its fangs, this "film involving vampires" has all the merits of the very best cinema, and at its core is nothing but a fantastic story carried by compelling, believable characters.
For those who may not be able to overlook the vampiric content, look again. The vampirism herein is a plot device, a way of presenting characters who cannot die or age or be harmed, so that the philosophical questions of life itself can be explored. But equally, for those who will be interested in the vampiric content, this film presents a rich mythology backed by a trilogy of books, which fleshes out the concept of the vampire in a much deeper way than any other production.
Every person has their own world view, their own way of living and thinking. People can be brooding, contemplative, cautious, reasonable, carefree, hedonistic, optimistic, emotional - and every shade in between. But these are all world-views based on the knowledge that life is short. What would happen if told their lives would never end? Who would be happiest? What would they do? How would eternal life affect each person? And most importantly, if a way of living was bringing meaning to a person's life, would that still work once life was infinite? All of these questions help us explore philosophical ideas as old as time, and that exploration is the focus of this film.
The story is propelled by vampires Louis (Pitt) and Lestat (Cruise), each representing a different take on life. Whilst Louis, who began as a depressive wanting to die, thinks of eternity as an extended curse; Lestat, who seems to live every second as it comes, barely even considers the future three minutes hence. Told from Louis' viewpoint as he struggles to find some meaning in a life he knows will never end, we are taken on a ride across the centuries, as Louis' outlook and happiness undulate whilst characters and relationships come and go.
Alongside Louis' turmoil in coming to terms with his (now eternal) life, a secondary theme is explored, which is the notion of survival. Even though Louis is clearly dissatisfied with life, he never attempts to end it, despite this option being open to him. In other words, surviving, in and of itself, was a motivation that outdid any other. Most importantly, survival outdoes Louis' trouble over the fact that his only source of nourishment is now the blood of living animals, preferably humans. Despite attempting abstinence, and then attempting to drink only the blood of rodents, this basic feeding instinct proves too much for Louis. And yet, as Lestat points out, what is the problem? The fittest always survives, and whoever is lower down the food-chain will be eaten. Humans eat animals, and vampires eat humans - it's all natural. But nonetheless, are there moral limits? Even if you have to kill a human, is there a more moral way to do it? "Monstrous," Louis exclaims, as he watches a group of vampires murder a defenceless girl. Yet might survival require the forgetting of moral consciousness, like Lestat?
'Interview with the Vampire' explores all of these deep, important issues whilst delivering an incredibly powerful story populated by charismatic characters, haunting and diverse settings and immortal dialogue. Gripping from start to finish, you will be enamoured at the vampire-world opened up to you; and by the end, you are left wondering what choice you would have made, given the one that Lestat never had...