Anne Rice, nee Howard Allen Frances O'Brien, was the undisputed queen of the gothic genre for years.
It was mainly thanks to Interview with the vampire, the first book of his most famous series The Vampire Chronicles which has achieved such notoriety. The saga is also part of its production Mayfair Witches it is part of the Gothic vein, but it is not the only genre with which the author has ventured during her ten-year career.
The Erotic Novels of Anne Rice
During the XNUMXs, a more extreme fringe of the Feminist Movement declared that pornography undermined the dignity of women. Anne Rice then decided to explore the erotic genre, believing that women had the right to read whatever they wanted. Not only that, even that an author had the duty to respond to this need, especially in its most controversial forms.
To have creative freedom in exploring this genre he used the pseudonym AN Roquelaure, from the French word that indicates a male cloak in vogue in eighteenth-century Europe, useful for hiding the features of the wearer.
Thus was born the BDSM reinterpretation of the fable de Sleeping Beauty. Originally born as a trilogy, started in 1983, then it turned into a quadrilogy. Over the course of the novels, set in a world reminiscent of the Satyricon, explores the sexual awakening of the princess. It is not a kiss that breaks the hundred years of sleep, but a real sexual relationship. The young woman, naked, is in fact brought in the presence of Queen Eleanor. The queen trains the children of the monarchs of neighboring kingdoms through sexual slavery and brutal punishment. Such practices serve to make these princes and princesses the future of their kingdoms.
In 2015 Anne Rice wrote a fourth book in which she explores how the long years of slavery and self-discovery ultimately prepared the princess for the role of queen.
It goes without saying that the feminist press of the time did not take the extreme submission of the princess well. However, this did not prevent the work from obtaining immense success with the public. The publishing house Arbor House paid Rice thirty-five thousand dollars for another erotic novel Exit to Eden published in 1985. Still based on BDSM practices, this new novel explores the vision of the dominatrix woman. More controversial it is Belinda of the following year, where Rice proposes the ambiguous love story between a forty-year-old author of children's books and a sixteen-year-old. The age of consent in California was eighteen, which sparked a heated debate on the issue.
Anne Rice and her relationship with the Faith
Perhaps the series of historical novels on the life of Jesus is the one that still most of all leaves us perplexed and intrigued at the same time.
Born a Catholic and raised in a particularly rigid and observant family, at eighteen Anne Rice abandoned the faith for a long period of her life. Only upon her return to her hometown of New Orleans, and after several close encounters with death due to pre-existing health conditions, does Anne again approach her old faith.
I will use my life and my writing skills to glorify my faith in God, but I do not disown my previous works which reflect the state of my spiritual life at the time.Newsweek, October 2005
This newfound fervor did not last long, the Catholic Church soon found itself involved in well-known scandals. Anne Rice decides that although her love for her and her belief in God are not in question, she cannot, in good conscience, be part of the institutionalized church.
Interview with the Vampire
The book has a troubled history. It was born as a short story at the end of the Sixties. About thirty pages soon forgotten by the author engaged in those years in the exploration of other genres. Only when her daughter died in 1972 did Anne Rice decide to expand the universe she had created in those few pages. Thus you write a novel which, however, meets the rejection of numerous publishing houses.
Two years later, in 1974, during a conference, he had a chance meeting with Phyllis Seidel, who will become his agent. This partnership marks the turning point not only in Rice's life, but also in that of her characters.
Seidel itself sells the rights for Interview with the vampire a Alfred A. Knopf for twelve thousand dollars. In that historical moment, the most an author could aspire to was a two thousand dollar contract, and only if he was known.
The book came out in 1976 and was a success! However, I am not free from fierce criticism from both a fringe of the public and critics. This prompted the author to abandon, at least temporarily, the supernatural genre. Despite this, a year later, Anne Rice visited Europe and Egypt for a promotional tour of her novel. It was the first time that a gothic novel, written by a woman, has caused such a stir since the days of Mary Shelley!
To be fair, it is necessary to specify that only in the XNUMXs did Rice vampires take the place they deserve in the common imagination. With the release of the new books, the public also rediscovers the first novel. Anne Rice thus rises to the undisputed role of queen of a genre that until then has been of male relevance.
Since then, success has never waned and the factors that have contributed to this longevity are numerous and different from each other.
On the emotional wave, many see Claudia as a tribute to her daughter who passed away at the age of six. In a climate of sexual revolutions and civil rights struggles, it is not surprising that a book about openly queer characters has been positively affected by the power of word of mouth.
Despite the clear classical influences that permeate her pages, Rice doesn't just adapt to the modern era what many before her had written about vampires. Her characters have a thousand facets that make them memorable, complex and haunted. Whether they are elegant and refined fallen noblemen in search of redemption, Roman senators who open up too early to modernity and dare to love a barbarian and a young human with the same fervor, princesses of exotic faraway countries forced to face the prejudice of men, queens of merciless beauty and exquisite cruelty born in times when the only way to be heard was violence, beautiful young men abandoned in hidden places among the frozen steppes of Russia, guilty of tempting pure men with their features, or failed writers who only by chance they meet the story that can change their life, but they fall victim to the words they want to tell, they all have something in common. The need for their stories to be heard. It doesn't matter when they were hugged. Whether they are a few days or millennia that pass inexorably away, this very human need represents for them the urge to abandon the isolation to which their race is otherwise doomed.
From the book to the big screen...
In 1984, based on a script by Rice herself, Neil jordan (Michael Collins, Breakfast on Pluto, The Borgias) directs the first feature film based on the now cult novel. In the cast Brad Pitt (Ad Astra, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood etc ...) alongside, in the role of the tormented vampire Louis, by Tom Cruise (Top Gun, Mission Impossible, Maverick) a perfect Lestat. Relations between the two were so strained that Pitt considered leaving the set more than once. It was only the intervention of David Geffenfounder of asylum records e geffen records, then a friend of the actor, that the film was completed.
I called David Geffen who was a producer and a good friend, and he arrived (in London NDR). I told him David I can't take it anymore. I can not do it. How much would it cost me to call me out? He looked at me and calmly told me forty million dollars.Brad Pitt
The film is the perfect adaptation of Rice's pages: faithful and curated. It also has the advantage of bringing new fans to the original work and consecrating a very young girl Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia, Marie Antoinette, Spiderman) for an acting career.
… Until you get there to the little one
Thus we come to the present day. On 2 October it debuts on AMC the new show taken from the immortal pages of Rice. One of the executive producers is Christopher, the son of the author who passed away in 2021.
THECMA, now an orphan of Better call Saul and with The Walking Dead, which is about to reach its final season, must focus on a show that can last years, maintain the record ratings the network is accustomed to and create the basis for spin-offs that attract old and new fans of the genre.
The task was entrusted to Rolin Jones, playwright and screenwriter, 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is also a writer and production supervisor for Friday Nlight lights. Among other accolades, he received two nominations for the best drama series ai Writers Guild of America Award.
Jones offers the viewer a new and contemporary vision of a story that has no age. The stage on which the characters move is always the same: New Orleans. Beautiful and decadent, desperate and fascinating, it shines with a new light, the artificial one of electricity, at the beginning of the twentieth century. Those who have not read the original work do not imagine that the century is not the right one. Those who love Rice's vampires know this, but are not upset by this change. Indeed, the public remains intrigued, wonders where this new version can lead, tries to imagine, before it happens on the screen, what could happen.
The protagonists are always them: Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt. This time brought to life by Jacob Anderson (the Gray Worm from Game of Thrones) e Sam reid (The Astronaut wives club, Bloom). We find Eric Bogosian (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) as an aged and disillusioned Daniel Malloy who no longer lets Louis put his feet on his head and sets the rules for their interview. If the vampire wants his story to be heard, he sets the rules of the game.
ALSO READ: THE VAMPIRE - FIGURE BETWEEN MYTH AND REALITY
The role of the journalist is not the only one that has profoundly changed. There is a gravitas in this show that is missing from the film. Ancient and modern come together in a perfect play of light and shadow; metaphor not only of the life that vampires lead, but also of humanity as a whole. The pandemic becomes one of the many catastrophes Louis has witnessed, but is treated with delicate hints. Louis worries about Daniel and his health deteriorating from Parkinson's. However, this does not prevent him from summoning the journalist to Dubai where he lives and where he is finally ready to tell his story about him.
The protagonists themselves have a different and greater awareness of themselves and of the past that made them what they are. From the very first episode it is clear that Lestat is not just a sadistic and bored vampire looking for new blood in a world that for many of his race is still unexplored.
The facets of this deeply lonely creature, isolated from others, not only because of her nature but also of her sexuality, are innumerable and difficult to grasp at first sight. Libertine, gambler, man without God and at the same time faithful friend, man of superfine tastes and boundless culture. Born a noble, he is still a second son. He suffered on his skin the violence of his father and brother, narrow and dry. He inherited the love of culture from his mother and for this he was hated by his father. Lestat still carries those traumas on him and expresses them, without restraint, in his outbursts of uncontrolled anger.
Lestat wants Louis, wants him by his side. He knows he will stop at nothing to get what he wants, but Louis must be the one asking for it. He must be the one to accept the gift that Lestat has to offer.
The sexual tension between the two, as well as the chemistry between the actors, is clear from the first time they occupy the screen together. Even when Louis still doesn't know how deep his desire for Lestat is. Each moment spent together is a slow awakening of the senses and the awareness they bring.
Lestat is the only one who truly understands that Louis, who is no longer the man destroyed by the loss of his young wife and unborn child. He is a businessman, in a still deeply racist city, who has to take care of the whole family that he does not even imagine what the nature of the business his father left. An engaged sister about to get married. A fragile brother loved by his mother above all else, protected from the world who would never accept a person like him. A mother who doesn't want to see when Louis goes for them all, losing himself day after day ...
The sensual nature of Rice's vampires becomes delightfully sexual in this new adaptation. Lestat represents the escape route, the mentor he can and wants to teach, if only Louis could find the strength to ask. The freedom that Louis, in his golden cage made of difficult responsibilities to respect in a city that looks at him with hatred for the color of his skin, is missing. It is the means of accepting himself and his wishes.
I can take this life of shame and replace it with a dark gift, a power you can't even imagine. You just have to ask me ... I love you Louis. You are loved ...
The pact is sealed with a kiss and a prayer.
Drink from me, right up to the threshold of death itself.
The scene takes place in a church, where Lestat, stained with blood, takes what God cannot save.
ALSO READ: DRACULA - FRESH BLOOD FOR THE LEGEND
Conclusions on Interview with the Vampire and Anne Rice
After the recent racist controversy that Amazon received for The RIngs of Power and HBO for House of the Dragon It's easy to imagine how the usual keyboard lions will emerge from their lairs to cast hatred on the changes the show has made to various characters, be they race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Meanwhile, the premiere was watched by 1.2 million viewers and the show is the first to be liked by the public on the platforms on which it is available. Fans, old and new, show their loyalty and love for a project that, given the premises, can turn out to be pure gold.
Who knows if the trolls will stay in their caves for once ...
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