Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interview with a Vampire

Anne Rice's interview with a vampire is a very interesting take on the vampire tale. While many of the vampire staples are there; the ancient life, feeding off of blood, vulnerability to sunlight, and need to sleep in coffins, most of the other weaknesses are missing. Religious iconography have no effect on them, garlic is an irritant but nothing more, and staking them through the heart does not guarantee instant death.

My favorite aspect of the movie is the take there is on the vampire's personalities, there is a very nice balance between the two main characters, Lestat and Louis. Louis is a very emotional, whiny character, and though it can be annoying at time, the fact that the story is told from his point of view gives a very nice counterpoint to the action happening within. When Lois is made a vampire with such suddenness that it is not completely clear if he was willing or not. His first feeding is violent and distasteful for him, causing him to become a "vegetarian" vampire, feeding only on animals, and to develop a very strong dislike for Lestat, who he views as crude and unappreciative.

The dynamic between Lestat and Louis is very interesting. Louis constantly lambasts Lestat for not indulging in the pleasures of live. He views Lestat as crude and hateful of all life. The interesting thing, however, is Lestat indulges his every whim, killing as he pleases and taking delight in the morbid nature of his life. Louis shows much more restraint in his life, being more of the traditional, overly emotional and regretful vampire that is common in modern stories. A key scene is when Louis stumbles across a child who's mother died of the plague and feeds off of her, almost killing her. Lestat comes in and encourages Louis to finish her off, dancing with the mom's corpse. Louis finds this grotesque and flees, this becoming a clear moment in his mind of Lestat's complete disrespect of life. What he doesn't think of, however, is that while Lestat had his morbid dance, he did feed off of a child and leave her to die alone.

Lestat is a necessary foil because it shows the hypocrisy of Louis. Louis kills people every night, but whines about his cursed existence and how he is just a victim. Lestat is there as a reminder of "we are monsters, we literally feed off of death, so stop beign so dramatic and enjoy it."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Response to Monster Island

One of the most interesting aspects of Monster Island is how the story is told, and the different perspectives you are given within the story of different cultures' take on the pandemic, even including one of the undead. What this lends to the story is that then you see the events from many different perspectives; the cliche main character who is horrified over everything that is happening and is just trying to find his way to his daughter, the Somalian's view of the situation as a part of life and death as an honor, and the undead perspective of acting according to nature and trying to survive.

The fact that the story does alternate between the view of the living and the dead is an interesting twist few zombie novels have. Here, the story had an incredible opportunity to explore the depth of why the undead act as they do, and though the novel touches upon the reasons, it never explores the reasons why in any real depth. What the novel first touches upon in terms of the undead is two aspects; their actions are based partially upon their nature, and partially upon staving off death.

Another interesting aspect the story took on was that all of the zombies have a supernatural connection that allow them to move and act together. This is something that most stories never address; how zombies, without any eyes, noses, or ears, can possibly sense survivors. Also, taking a supernatural approach to the outbreak allows for some leeway in terms of science. If a story tries to give an entirely scientific explanation, then a lot of questions can arise as to how a pandemic can spread so quickly, how the zombies react, why they are resurrected, etc. Giving it a magical explanation allows for all those issues to either fall to the side, or to be explained pretty easily with "oh its magic", or to be given more novel explanations.

The idea of intelligent undead is another interesting twist that makes the story much more tense. Whereas normally the undead aren't much of a threat, acting as a motivating force for the main characters, they end up being a serious threat, and with how the entire story is told, the ending is totally open, because no favoritism was shown to any of the characters throughout the novel.

Reaction to Frankenstein

Frankenstein is one of those novels that everyone knows the story of, even if they have never read it. It is a classic that is truly timeless, and perhaps the only example we have of a modern legend. Unfortunately, in modern retellings, much of the subtly and tact wich made the original book such an example of literature has been lost. What made the original tale so brilliant is that it was a critique both on the overambitious nature of pride, and the un-accepting nature humanity can have.

Much of the opening of the story is spent describing first the nature of a sea captain's voyage, and then of the history and childhood of Frankenstein, leading up to his downfall. Frankenstein is described as being extremely interested in education, devoting much time to the study of alchemy, being very interested in the promises of immortality offered within. It is elaborated upon how, after entering formal education, Frankenstein became obsessed with the reanimation of dead tissue.

After bringing his creation to life, Frankenstein becomes horrified, and flees from the creature. From then on, the story follow's Frankenstein's attempt to catch his creation, and the creature's attempt to survive. An amazing complexity that is usually lost in modern retellings is the fact that Frankenstein's monster is not a mute horror, but rather a being of intelligence and complexity, looking for acceptance, but not finding it, and thus turning his back on the world.

With its analysis of character and critique on both humanities greatest strengths and weaknesses, Frankenstein is a great classic, and one of the few examples of a nearly totally new tale.