By now it is practically impossible to be surprised when Hollywood announces a new remake. The film industry has spent decades turning to some of its most successful stories from the past to resurrect them as a reboot, reinvention or direct remake, with the excuse of being adaptations for new generations. And we have gotten used to it. Make revivals of Gossip Girl, Sex and the City, Dexter (which will be more than welcome), or reinventions of a classic like Those wonderful years, it doesn’t surprise us in the least. But there are certain cinematographic properties with such a special relationship with the audience that it is almost sacrilege for them to recreate them.. I am talking about such memorable films, so well protected in the world’s cinematic memory, that a remake it seems completely unnecessary. (Even insulting, depending on your level of fanaticism).
And I’m not talking about spin-offs, bounces and revivals of Dirty Dancing, or of the times they repeated the story of A star has been born. No, I am talking about another movie even more special for many viewers. A vampire story, a gothic fantasy, and an example of romanticized vampire violence: Interview with the vampire.
Interview with the vampire part of the literary saga The Vampire Diaries written by Anne Rice. Published in 1976, it is the first novel in the saga and the one that opened the doors to a whole universe full of vampires, gothic history, survival where everything is possible, betrayal, immortality, etc. The film adaptation would only hit theaters almost two decades later, in 1994, with director Neil Jordan (Tear game) doing a magnificent job of translating the dark and gloomy atmosphere of the book into a movie that has aged much better than others.
Tom Cruise played his first villain role with Lestat, a legendary vampire who turns Louis (Brad Pitt) into bloodsuckers against his will. And Louis does not accept his new condition with joy. His nostalgia for life leads him to feed on rats, and in his desperate struggle between the man that he was and the monster that he is, he turns a girl by trying to save her from certain death (Kirsten Dunst). But without knowing that he is creating a vampire more sadistic than Lestat, hungrier, manipulative and dangerous. This trio was joined by Antonio Banderas as a Latin lover of the night, forming an explosive cocktail on the big screen.
The story is told by Louis in the first person, beginning in the modern era while giving an interview to a reporter played by Christian Slater, who had to take the role within days of filming due to River Phoenix’s death from an overdose.
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Interview with the vampire was a critical and box office success ($ 223 million), garnered two technical Oscar nominations (best artistic direction and soundtrack) and crowned Tom cruise like an off-road actor. The interpreter created a Lestat so sadistic, evil, sarcastic and dangerous, that even today, when we see the film again, he continues to steal all the limelight. What’s more, even Anne Rice had to retract after having publicly vocalized her rejection of Tom’s choice (she wanted Julian Sands).
While it is true that not all the public or critics fell asleep at this adaptation -Oprah Winfrey came to abandon the screening after 10 minutes because it seemed gore and dark- those of us who did it have it stored in the trunk of memories as the film that turned vampires into complex beings, with dramatic arcs that overthrew the simple monster interpretation. They weren’t mere satanic bloodsucking vampires overstated, not romanticized heroes, not cheap copies of the legendary Dracula. Lestat and Louis created a perfect opposites tandem, which even some viewers still read as an allegory about homosexuality with the character of Brad Pitt representing the figure of a man discovering his condition before the world, confused at first, rejected by society, without children and creating a family without being able to procreate it.
All that said, it turns out that 27 years after its premiere, Interview with the vampire will have remake in serial form. The American chain AMC gave the green light to the project in June with the intention of launching it in 2022, and a few days ago it was announced that Sam reid will give life to Lestat.
I confess that when I heard the news, I was one of those unconditional fans who could not avoid being rejected. After all, why are remakes made? To improve an adaptation? Well in this case Interview with the vampire it was not badly received. Is it to adapt it to the new generations? The film has not aged badly. Is it to take advantage of good stories in the absence of originality …? Well okay.
“How to improve the unbeatable?” was what I thought when I heard the news and immediately felt some compassion for Sam Reid. The young Australian has a tough task ahead of him to surpass or match Tom Cruise’s work in 1994. What’s more, others have already tried and failed. It was the case of Stuart Townsend who gave life to Lestat in the ill-fated sequel Queen of the Damned (2002), which was smashed by critics, a box office failure and even beaten by author Anne Rice who asked her fans to “they will forget the movie” because “mutilated ” his work.
There was even a musical version for Broadway with music by Elton John and Hugh Panaro playing the vampire, but Lestat it was shattered by criticism until it closed two months after its release in 2006. However, Tom Cruise’s version remains intact despite the passage of time.
It is true that replacing the role of Brad Pitt’s Louis will not be that difficult. His performance is perhaps the most questionable in the film, so sad that at times it overwhelms and exhausts: But even that muted and sometimes over-acted interpretation has its explanation. As the filming was done at night and practically always in the dark, the actor revealed years later that he felt “miserable” during the process. And after six months of filming, he couldn’t take it anymore and asked producer David Geffen how much it would cost him to break the contract. The answer: $ 40 million. So Brad bite the bullet and got the strength to finish it.
Interview with the vampire, The film, created two icons of vampire cinema, left its mark on the genre and marked thousands of viewers who still consider it a classic of its time. Is there a need to tell the same story again in a series? Well considering how much the movie still works and its legacy, I think not.