Sunday, December 21, 2008

To have died in vein

I knew next to nothing about Interview with the Vampire before watching a Netflix® copy this evening, and since I associate an ineluctable quality of glossiness with both Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, it was hard for me to discover the poignancy and horror that Neil Jordan seemed to be searching for; the movie came closest to those qualities in the slow corruption of 12-year-old Kirsten Dunst. For creating horror and poignancy, I think The Hunger, with Catherine DeNeuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon, which I watched a couple of months ago, was more successful.

Paul Fussell commented in his cruel but witty 1983 book, Class, that the very wealthiest Americans, the type who used to build palaces on 5th Avenue and "cottages" on Bellevue Avenue in Newport, had prudently vanished from public view after the mid-20th century; even the very rich who grace the covers of Town and Country are likely to be one rung down from the "top out of sight," according to Fussell. The rest of us vaguely intuit that there are two classes of humanity who seem wholly other, apart, and, to most people, very strange: the ultra-wealthy and the very cerebral, and I think that such images as vampires, the Addams family, and Hannibal Lecter in pop culture are one way that our culture deals with them. The very wealthy, like Southerners, cannot be merely happy and wise; they must be saddled with crippingly narrow sympathies, live in obvious or impending ruin, and have ambiguous relationships with their fathers or sisters; as to the very bright, in the case of a Hannibal Lecter, they are savage in proportion to their very refinement.

I did like the portrayal of Bradd Pitt's character as operating under a burden because he retained something like a human soul, a quality that had fled even from his child protégée. In his last scene with Tom Cruise, he gently but firmly dismissed his ruined mentor, forced to embrace the pursuit of blood for his own survival but refusing to take pleasure in it.

© Michael Huggins, 2008. All rights reserved.

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