Artistic bloodshed in 'Interview with the Vampire'

Recreating classic paintings is a visual device that always enthralls moviegoers. When used correctly, it can add color and vibrancy to a film's visual-emotional palette. An oft-quoted frame by Michael Mann Heat (1995) gained popularity because it was based on a 1967 painting by Alex Colville CalmSeveral scenes from Lars von Trier's film nostalgia (2011) recreated works by artists such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Sir John Everett Millais. Rollin Jones' series Interview with the VampireBased on Anne Rice's 1976 gothic horror novel of the same name, the film takes the association with classic art to a whole new level, with many scenes in the series resembling baroque paintings.

With the show’s ongoing second season (on Amazon Prime), art has also permeated each frame in more direct ways. kiss of judas (1908) by Dutch-Flemish artist Jacob Smit hangs in the background in episode one, while one of the series' leads, Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson), fills the foreground. In a flashback scene set in post-World War II Paris, we see a painting by Louis Icart, famous for his depictions of Parisian life in the 1920s. The show's other lead, Lestat, is also wearing a dressing gown inspired by American commercial artist Jesse Leyendecker.

Interview with the Vampire Its second season will end on June 30, while another Anne Rice adaptation, in 2023, will premiere The Mayfair Witches (based on her Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy of novels), is now available on Amazon Prime for Indian audiences. Both shows are part of the “immortal universe” announced by AMC, based on the works of Anne Rice. Rice, a New Orleans native like many of her characters, was a master of gothic and horror fiction. She wrote more than 30 novels in her lifetime, more than a dozen of which featured her character Lestat the vampire. Rice sold more than 100 million books worldwide, making her one of the most successful authors of the 21st century.

Born into an Irish Catholic family, Rice had a complicated relationship with organized religion. Her Christian values ​​are evident in her books, but these values ​​are rarely presented without criticism or challenge. Later in life, in the mid-2000s, she wrote a series of biblical novels before distancing herself from the church in 2010. Rice began writing Interview with the Vampire This grief, combined with her fondness for gothic themes and the works of novelists such as the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens and Henry James, gave birth to the story of Louis and Lestat, centuries-old depressed vampires who have grown tired of immortality and the inevitable specter of watching loved ones grow old and die. It is a deeply, almost spectacularly sad book about loss and guilt, wrapped in the horrific templates of genre fiction. In a 1985 review of the novel The Vampire Lestat, the new York Times Critic Michiko Kakutani wrote of Rice's “gothic imagination mixed with a campy taste for the grotesque and decadent”.

This also means that her books are an acquired taste. All of Lestat's books are from the point of view of the vampires, not their victims. By doing so, Rice was overturning one of the oldest rules of vampire fiction. Usually, we are shown the vampire's monstrosity from the point of view of the victim, making the creature's condition into something that is not fully human. Rice made it clear that her sympathies are with the vampire, not only with the tragedy of being immortal, but with the tragedy of being “undead”. Monstrosity is therefore seen from the inside – a human being loses his soul in real time and takes on a different creature-hood. These ideas are central to the appeal of Lestat and Louis, whose fallibility is matched only by the compassion that defines their lives, which lurks just below the surface.

The Lives of the Mayfair Witches This is also a horror/fantasy series steeped in Christian themes, but this time the dominant emotion is not guilt but ominous apprehension. In these three books, published between 1990-94, California neurosurgeon Rowan Mayfair (Alexandra Daddario in the series) discovers that she is the heir to a family of powerful witches, all of whom are haunted by an evil, powerful shapeshifting entity called Lashar. There are all your classic witch-tale plot devices, such as haunted houses, necrophilia and a large number of incest scenes (Lashar has been provoking Mayfair into incest for several generations). The show is definitely the weaker of the two Rice adaptations currently airing,

The success of the Interview with the Vampire series, with both fans and critics, is a far cry from the 1994 Neil Jordan film adaptation, which starred Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt as Lestat and Louis, respectively. Today, the film is mostly remembered as a star-studded misfire. The series, on the other hand, has inspired a vast amount of fan-made art and fan-fiction. This is ironic since Rice once asked to remove fan-made stories about Lestat, eventually accepting their existence as long as readers kept those stories from her. Rice passed away shortly before the formal announcement of the “Immortals Universe,” but there’s plenty left in the canon for at least a dozen more seasons of TV. Few authors inspire as devoted a following as Rice, and TV executives have finally woken up to that fact.

Aditya Mani Jha is a Delhi-based writer.

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