Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles: Special Edition (1994)

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Released 22-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Vampire Main Menu Audio & Animation
Introduction-Neil Jordan
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Neil Jordan
Featurette-In The Shadow Of The Vampire
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 117:30
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:21) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Neil Jordan
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Brad Pitt
Tom Cruise
Kirsten Dunst
Antonio Banderas
Christian Slater
Stephen Rea
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Elliot Goldenthal


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
French
Swedish
Norwegian
Finnish
Turkish
Romanian
Bulgarian
Greek
Croatian
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

    Daniel Malloy is a collector of stories. The subject of his San Francisco radio show is the life stories of the everyday person, told from their point of view by the interview subject themselves. There is no rhyme nor logic to whomsoever is chosen to be interviewed. Daniel (played by Christian Slater) chooses people who look interesting, who might have an interesting story to tell. Tonight, he has chosen a very interesting subject indeed. Louis has come to be interviewed by Daniel after the two had noticed each other. Going to a hotel room where Daniel can record the interview, Louis reveals his true identity: he is a vampire. Daniel at first fails to take Louis seriously, but after a subtle but effective demonstration, the interviewer is more than convinced, as well as a little frightened. And so Louis begins to tell the story of his life...a living death that never ends.

    Taken from the first book of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (who also wrote the screenplay for the film), Interview with the Vampire has gone on to be one of the highest grossing vampire film of all time. Watching it again reveals just why that is. Although steeped in controversy at the time of its production, this film is a true revelation to behold. There is a term that I'd use to describe what I think when watching this picture and that is craftsmanship. This isn't some quickie made-for-a-buck production to rake in the big bucks type of film. Rather, the fine attention to detail goes from script to direction to acting to set design to musical score and indeed through every facet of the picture. At the time, many fans of the series bemoaned the casting of Tom Cruise as The Vampire Lestat. Even Anne Rice initially questioned his casting. To his credit, Cruise does a fantastic job in the role as Lestat and while many could argue that he doesn't suit the role as the Lestat of the series, one has to remember that Interview with the Vampire is an interview with Louis, not Lestat. Unlike the rest of the books, which are narrated by Lestat from his point of view, the first book is presented from Louis' point of view, and as such we have a view of Lestat that is very different from that of the rest of the series. Tom Cruise wouldn't work as Lestat in any of the other chronicles, but he is perfect for this one. He conveys both the humour and wit of Lestat along with the menacing nature that Louis rightly or wrongly so fears. Anne Rice subsequently retracted her reservations about Cruise playing Lestat and applauded his performance.

    Brad Pitt as Louis is another piece of fine casting. As Armand (played by Antonio Banderas) tells Louis, "...we are to be powerful, beautiful, and without regret".  Unfortunately for Louis, he is really only one of these: beautiful. He never really exercises his power and he lives in perpetual regret; regret that he took up the invitation of Lestat to join the world of darkness; regret that he must kill to live rather than enjoy the peace of death; regret that being a vampire detaches him from the world in which he lives. This is a common theme that runs through the series, that theme being that some vampires find it hard to connect with the new generation that they eventually find themselves in. To link themselves to a era, they create one of their kind in a futile attempt to connect with the present. This seems to fail with the victim too engrossed in their own hell to be of any value. Armand: "The world changes, we do not. There lies the irony that finally kills us". Brad Pitt as Louis captures the sadness and futility of the vampire 'life', the continual despair that holds so many of the characters in its grasp.

    Kirsten Dunst as Claudia does a fantastic job with the role. Director Neil Jordan was very specific in his casting of Dunst as Claudia. Because of the emotional range required and the intense subject matter, Jordan required an experienced actor that could portray the growth of the character from a young child to a woman forever trapped in the body of a child. Kirsten Dunst was more than up to the task, giving a performance that belies her years. You are so convinced of the maturity of her character that the thought of paedophilia never comes to mind when the love between Louis and Claudia is depicted. This also goes for the attraction of Lestat and Armand to Louis. To even hint at these relationships as being homosexual completely misses the point; when one is given 'the dark gift', they cease to be whatever they were before and become a vampire. Sexuality, gender, and age are all tossed away and mean nothing. Because the vampire has no sexual ability, what is left is the chance to experience another person's being, intellect, and love. Previous classifications are irrelevant.

    Neil Jordan's direction is masterful. He has a real eye for detail and his films easily draw the viewer into whatever world he may have constructed. This is very much the case for his acclaimed film The Crying Game and is certainly the case here. The style and visual flair that Jordan imparts to the film is completely fitting and faithful to the original novel. There are some changes made to the story from the original book to the screenplay, but these were done under the supervision of Anne Rice herself and it is her screenplay, so whatever additions, omissions and changes were made are totally in keeping with the mood and style of the book.

      In the end, what can I say? As you may be able to tell, I'm a real fan of this film as well as the wonderful series of books on which this film is based. There is talk of an 8 hour mini-series covering The Vampire Chronicles with perhaps this film covered again and taking in the second book The Vampire Lestat and the third book Queen of the Damned and perhaps beyond. Unfortunately, the second film based on this series, Queen of the Damned doesn't come remotely close to the quality and integrity of this film. With too many sacrifices made to the final product, Queen of the Damned is a pale shadow of the original book and without input from the series' creator Anne Rice, it was destined to fail. Still, with Rice being the producer of the possible upcoming mini-series, we perhaps have a chance to see this engrossing tale taken further. Until then, enjoy the incredible spectacle that is Interview with the Vampire. The acting, direction and story all come together in an fabulous film. Very highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This DVD features the same film master used in the original Region 1 (and presumably Region 4) bare bones version made available in 1998, with the same film artefacts visible on both versions. That said, the version here features a much better image taking advantage of the extra space that the RSDL formatting allows.

    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, a common variant of 1.85:1 (which was this film's original aspect ratio). The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness of this film as seen on DVD is quite good and is an improvement on the previous version with a far sharper and clearer image on offer. As would be required by a film that takes place largely at night, the level of shadow detail is quite good. Perfect examples can be seen at the graveyard where Louis is turned and also under The Theatre des Vampires where Louis and Claudia meet the Parisian vampires for the first time. There is such a fine level of detail to be captured by the camera that one would wish not to miss a thing. Thankfully, we have no such problem here. There is quite a level of CG work that is so subtle that many would watch the film and say 'What CG?'. Many of the landscapes (mostly nightscapes) are CG and serve as an extension to whatever real scenery there was. Some of the CG scenes are quite darkly lit yet feature quite a high level of detail. This is reminiscent of Rob Botin's creature work on the film The Thing where Rob would create the most intricate and detailed creature model and then request that it be very dimly lit. While the scenery isn't overtly lit, the detail is there and is perceived. Low level noise isn't a huge problem with this disc. There was some visible in the original release, but this seems to have been largely taken care of with this release.

    The colours used during this film are purposefully subdued. At times we have a dark blue and very cold palate used while at other times a very warm and rich colour scheme is used. At all times, the colour levels never reach garish or exaggerated levels and quite correctly convey the mood that this film sets out to achieve.

    Thanks to the RSDL formatting of this disc, overcompression isn't a problem and we have a reasonably clean and MPEG artefact-free image. This wasn't the case with the initial single layered release that featured quite a bit of pixelization. Aliasing is not a real issue with this transfer. There is some chroma noise visible at 54:31 but for the most part it isn't a problem. Crosses, holy water, garlic and wooden stakes can't seem to ward off the scourge that is edge enhancement which rises from the grave at 5:49 around Louis and his horse and is visible from time to time during the program. It isn't a major problem, but it doesn't need to be there at all. There are quite a number of small nicks and flecks that litter the screen throughout the film. These were present in the original transfer of this film to DVD and are visible again here. That said, they do not distract the viewer's attentions from the film and only serve to remind us that we are watching an image transferred from film.

    This disc offers us a fairly large range of subtitles with 12 different options available. The English titles are quite good and convey the mood and gist of the dialogue and are near (but not quite) word for word.

    Unlike the first version of this film on DVD, this disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change taking place at 69:21. It is well placed and on my second viewing of this disc, I failed to even notice it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    We have a good audio mix here that serves the film quite well.

     There are 3 audio tracks available on this disc, these being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, a German Dolby Digital 5.1 mix and an audio commentary by Director Neil Jordan in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. The dts track available on the Region 1 disc is absent here.

     Dialogue quality during the feature is quite good and the spoken word is easily discernible throughout the picture with the various accents and prosthetic teeth worn by the actors seeming not to be a problem. Audio sync is quite good with no issues of note.

     The musical score, composed by Elliot Goldenthal serves the film very well and conjures up the proper emotions and moods. It's a bold score with a power that doesn't come over as heavy-handed and features some choral work that suits the film well. Overall, a very good score.

     The surrounds are used throughout the film, but usually in an atmospheric role. This is fine, as gimmicks and audio trickery aren't required to move the film along. The subwoofer takes a similar supporting role and backs up the musical score and goings-on on-screen without drawing attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     While not bursting at the seams with extras, what we do have is quite interesting.

Menu

     After the distributor's logos, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu. On offer is:

     All the menus are presented 16x9 enhanced. Other than the Main Menu, which is animated and features music from the original soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded, the menus are silent and static.

     Selecting the Special Features menu will offer us the following:

Cast and Crew

     This is a static page listing the main actors from the film and their characters and lists the crew and their roles as well. This is a static page with none of the names listed selectable.

Behind the Scenes

     Selecting this feature presents us with the options of:

Commentary by Director Neil Jordan

     This a very interesting commentary done solo by the film's director. Neil Jordan had some very specific ideas that he wished to bring to the screen with this film and here he details much of what went into making Interview with the Vampire the success that it was and still is. Not having anyone in the studio with him to bed out the commentary isn't a problem for Neil who continues throughout the film with ever more interesting revelations on the making of the film. A must hear for any fan of the film. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

Special Introduction 1:04

     This brief intro is a repeat of the one that precedes the film on this disc. It is a short message from the film's director and also features some quick interview snippets from Anne Rice and Antonio Banderas. Nothing to sink your teeth into and it doesn't offer much that isn't in the In the Shadow featurette. The image is 16x9 enhanced with the audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

In the Shadow of the Vampire - Featurette 29:43

     This fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary features some quite interesting and revealing interviews with the main participants of this film. Included are recent interviews with series writer and screenplay author Anne Rice, director Neil Jordan, Stephen Rea, Kirsten Dunst and effects legend Stan Winston. Also included are archived interviews with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. This is an interesting look at some of the various parts of the film's production including special effects, casting, the original source material and how it all came together. The featurette is divided up into 4 sections entitled: Out of the Night they Came, Building Belief, Living within the Lore and Do you Believe?. This featurette is presented without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

Theatrical Trailer 2:29

     The same trailer we've seen countless times finishing with Claudia whispering "I want some more". The inclusion of some different trailers would have been nice, but this is all we get. It is presented in 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Region 1 and Region 4 now have had both bare bones and Special Editions released. The original discs featured the film single layered and as such, more compression artefacts were visible. The transfers were good, but the release of the Special Editions offer a far better transfer with the extra room for information that RSDL formatting allows.

     The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

     Your call, folks. While I've never been under the impression that dts is the be-all and end-all in terms of film audio, in the end it is up to the individual viewer (erm, listener) as to which they would prefer. This dual layered disc is more than capable of handling this extra audio track. Warner even managed to fit 2 Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks along with the dts track on the Region 1 disc, so one would have thought that space wasn't the problem. So, what is the problem? The fact that the dts track is missing is the problem! Don't get me wrong. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on offer here does a fine job of conveying the happenings on-screen and I have no real complaints, but dts on this film could have added an extra dimension to the audio of this film. Looks like Region 4 won't get to find out. God knows why because I don't. Warner?

Summary

      This is one of those love it or hate it films. Many fans of the books couldn't see past Tom Cruise while others just let it wash over them as yet another in the pantheon of vampire movies. However, I take the contrary view: this film stands near the pinnacle of vampire films and it has the box office to prove it. However, box office in reality means very little in terms as to whether a film is any good or not. In my opinion this is a fantastic film with some stellar performances and masterful direction. And if you haven't seen it yet? This is one of those films that I wish I'd never seen...just so I could see it again for the first time. A true vampire cinema classic. I can't recommend it highly enough.

     The video transfer is quite good with far less compression problems than the initial single layer release.

     The audio is very good and serves the film well...but no dts. Fans of the audio format will have to endure NTSC on the Region 1 disc to get their beloved track.

     The extras are good with an interesting director's commentary available as well as a fascinating behind-the-scenes featurette.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic A300-MU, using S-Video output
DisplayHitachi CP-L750W LCD Projector. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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Comments (Add)
re: raiting - Geoff (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Always rated MA - rochford