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In the movie Interview With the Vampire, based on Anne Rice's novel of the same title, Claudia sits at a vanity with a mirror - her reflection doesn't appear and that got me to thinking:

Generally speaking, can Anne Rice's vampires see other vampires' reflections in a mirror, even if they cannot see their own? Or do Rice's vampires lack the ability to see mirrored reflections under all circumstances?

Anne Rice's vampires seem pretty standard to me, but maybe there are other aspects of vampirism that I don't know about (Okay, I'm sure there is a good amount of vampire lore out there, but I'm asking anyway).

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    So, specifically for Anne-Rice's universe? Because otherwise, that's a bit broad.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jan 25 at 22:50
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    Your last paragraph leads me to believe you're conceiving of a general "vampire canon" beyond one author's work.
    – Spencer
    Jan 26 at 0:00
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    IRL, to the extent that it applies to vampires, they would not have a problem seeing themselves or each other in modern mirrors. The "missing reflection" trope was due to the legendary creatures' aversion to silver; modern mirrors are plated with aluminum. Jan 26 at 16:16
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    @CristobolPolychronopolis Interesting that an aversion to silver is also tied into werewolf mythology - a silver bullet being the traditional means of defeating one. Of course, myths about both vampires and werewolves likely stem from a common real-world source - rabies. How silver got tied into that I have no idea. Jan 26 at 17:22
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    @TheLethalCarrot with that said, I don't think asking about "vampires in general" is answerable. Because there is no "vampires in general". Practically all vampire franchises try to make it a point to differentiate themselves from other vampire franchises thus have different explanations of how their vampires work.
    – VLAZ
    Jan 26 at 17:33

3 Answers 3

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In the books, vampires can see themselves, and each other, in mirrors.

Interview with the Vampire, Louis (the narrator) speaks of his turning, and conversations with his sire Lestat:

And all the time, he belittled me and attacked me for my love of the senses, my reluctance to kill, and the near swoon which killing could produce in me. He laughed uproariously when I discovered that I could see myself in a mirror and that crosses had no effect upon me, and would taunt me with sealed lips when I asked about God or the devil.

He speaks of the company of other vampires:

I had the strong sense then of how we were all made from the same material, a thought which had only occurred to me occasionally in all the long years in New Orleans; and it disturbed me, particularly when I saw one or more of the others reflected in the long mirrors that broke the density of those awful murals.

In The Vampire Lestat, Lestat has just been turned:

I lifted from the treasure an exquisite pearl-handled mirror.

I looked into it almost unconsciously as one often glances in mirrors. And there I saw myself as a man might expect, except that my skin was very white, as the old fiend's had been white, and my eyes had been transformed from their usual blue to a mingling of violet and cobalt that was softly iridescent.

[...]

But it suddenly occurred to me, I am looking at my own reflection! And hadn't it been said enough that ghosts and spirits and those who have, lost their souls to hell have no reflections in mirrors?

In that last passage, we can also see that the myth of "those who have lost their souls" being unable to see themselves in mirrors exists in that setting -- but it is just a myth, at least as far as vampires are concerned.


As to the movies, I haven't seen them and can only speculate, but vampires not appearing in mirrors or photographs is a common part of vampire mythology, stemming from the use of silver in both mirrors and photographic emulsion -- the silver, being a holy material, wouldn't reflect the unholy image of the vampire. Based on that, I would expect that vampires wouldn't be able to see each other either, since the issue is that the mirror refuses to reflect them, not that they can't see a reflection that's otherwise there -- but that also means vampires should show up in modern aluminum-film mirrors and digital photography, when often they don't. So it's really up to the whim of the writer.

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  • This was a really hard choice to make. I slept on it and then re-read the answers several times. After a lot of thought I've decided to go with a different answer. It was hard to choose - make no bones about it, both are excellent answers, I ended up going with the other answer because it addresses the movie specifically. I should have been more clear that I was looking for an answer from the movie. :) Jan 30 at 21:16
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In the film, Interview with the Vampire (1994), it appears that both vampires and humans can see a vampire's reflection.

The screenplay clearly indicates that Louis and Claudia could see their own reflections in the mirror, and that Claudia could see Lestat's reflection in the mirror.

Louis wanders into the parlor, where Lestat is playing the harpsichord rapidly and exuberantly. Louis goes to a full-length mirror and sees his own reflection there - quite the perfect vampire.

Interview with the Vampire (1994) - screenplay

By a large gilt mirror, in her new clothes. She is covered with jewelry, fixing earrings to her ears.

[...]

CLAUDIA: Why do you turn away? Why don't you look.

She twirls, looking at herself in the mirror, then stops, stares at herself.

Interview with the Vampire (1994) - screenplay

Claudia stands up quickly, and strides out into the parlour where Louis is reading by the window. She walks to a mirrored cabinet, takes out a scissors and begins cutting her hair.

[...]

She continues cutting. She sees Lestat emerge from her bedroom in the mirror behind her then turns to him, an angelic little boy's face now with soft curls around her face.

Interview with the Vampire (1994) - screenplay

Within the film itself, I don't see any scenes where Claudia or any other vampire sits or stands in front of a mirror without their reflection being clearly visible. In fact, we see vampires clearly reflected in mirrors in at least half a dozen scenes throughout the runtime.

enter image description here

One of the most notable examples is the scene where Claudia cuts her hair. She's pretty clearly looking at her reflection in the mirror as she does this, and then -- after running into her bedroom -- it's the sight of her reflection in another mirror which lets her know that her hair has already grown back.

There's also a scene -- around 71 minutes into the runtime -- where Claudia is in what appears to be a boutique, with four (presumably) human attendants. We can see her reflection in the mirror, she seems to be looking at it herself, and it's likely that the people around her could see it, as they appear to be treating her like she's a normal (albeit, wealthy) girl, rather than a vampire.

enter image description here

Furthermore, Louis explains that Dracula is the vulgar fiction of a "demented Irishman" (i.e. Bram Stoker) in this universe, and that the conventional vampire weaknesses to garlic, crucifixes, and stakes through the heart don't apply here either. So this film pretty clearly plays by its own set of rules, rather than adhering to all the familiar vampire tropes seen in other movies.

DANIEL: What about crucifixes?

LOUIS: Crucifixes?

DANIEL: Can you look at them?

LOUIS: Actually, I'm quite fond of looking at crucifixes.

DANIEL: And the stake through the heart?

LOUIS: Nonsense.

DANIEL: And coffins?

LOUIS: Coffins. Coffins, unfortunately, are a necessity.

Interview with the Vampire (1994) - transcript

LOUIS: We searched village after village... ruin after ruin... country after country. And always we found nothing. I began to believe we were the only ones. There was a strange comfort in that thought. For what could the damned really have to say to the damned?

DANIEL: You found nothing?

LOUIS: Peasant rumors... superstitions about garlic... crosses... the old stake in the heart. But one of our kind? Not a whisper.

DANIEL: There are no vampires in Transylvania? No Count Dracula?

LOUIS: Fictions, my friend. The vulgar fictions of a demented Irishman.

Interview with the Vampire (1994) - transcript

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    I mean, a stake through the heart would probably still kill a vampire in that universe, but to be fair, that would kill anyone. Jan 26 at 15:10
  • @DarrelHoffman see Casey & Andy #22 galactanet.com/comic/view.php?strip=22
    – b_jonas
    Jan 26 at 16:43
  • My thoughts exactly, @DarrelHoffman!
    – FreeMan
    Jan 26 at 17:35
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    This is a great answer and I'm pondering giving it to you. Seriously, fabulous answer! :) Jan 28 at 21:43
  • I decided I'm going to go with this answer. It's pretty thorough and it deals with the movie specifically. Thanks! Jan 30 at 21:05
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Why You Can’t See Vampires In Mirrors

I did a bit of research into why vampires were invisible in mirrors in the first place, and some of the answers I unearthed were bizarre and downright hilarious, including:

  • Vampires are transparent and light passes through them so if they stand in front of a mirror there is no reflection because the light is just passing through them. Vampires can counter this, but for the most part, their reflections are obscured.
  • If they can counter this, why wouldn’t they counter it permanently? And if they can’t reflect light, we wouldn’t be able to see them with our eyes, whether a mirror was involved or not.
  • Originally, mirrors were made by laying a glass sheet over silver. Silver was considered a pure metal and that purity is abhorent to supernatural creatures, so they were not reflected in mirrors.
  • Okay, but why aren’t their clothes showing up, though? In the movie Dracula, he hissed and threw the mirror out the window because it offended him, but before that moment, Jonathon Harker failed to see his reflection in the mirror, clothes and all. The clothes found the mirror abhorent, too?
  • And possibly the best answer: The reason vampires could not be seen in mirrors is because way back when, they believed mirrors reflected souls and vampires, being the undead, had no souls (nothing to do with silver, etc). This is also the reason it’s bad luck to break mirrors (because the mirror breaking also breaks breaks the part of your soul captured in it) and why people covered mirrors when people died in the house, to prevent souls being captured, and why they used to say mirrrors always show the true face – in other words, mirrors reflect the soul, not the outward appearance.
  • Except, static objects like pens, chairs and radiant heaters don’t have souls, and they are reflected in mirrors. Why aren’t they invisible? My three cats have souls and are all visible, although I’m not sure about Strider, the ADHD crazy baby-kitty. His soul may have been claimed a long time ago – it would explain a lot about him…but he bumps noses with himself in the mirror, so that doesn’t hold either.

As you can see, there’s a few explanations, and I like the soul-less one the best, although it doesn’t really hold water all that well if you’re trying to use it to build a fictional world. You’d have to find, I think, a better explanation for no reflections if you were going to use it in modern vampire fiction.

Source: https://tracycooperposey.com/whats-with-vampires-and-mirrors/

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  • Good points. Evidently Anne Rice would agree with you; her vampires can see their reflections in mirrors. Jan 27 at 14:57
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    Why does this topic keep attracting people who turn a blind eye to some stuff but then do weirdly in-depth analysis of others? As I commented elsewhere - vampires are magical blood drinking corpses. The Anne Rice ones specifically can do tricks like levitate, turn invisible, or mind control people. Apparently that part you have no problem with. "Oh, sure - it's a corpse which walks and talks. Nothing weird". But then mirrors - that has to be examined under the deepest scrutiny. In the context of levitating corpses. "Floating corpse physics check out but photon interaction with them is fishy"
    – VLAZ
    Jan 27 at 15:17
  • @VLAZ: It boils down to questions of what makes at least some sense. The "it's a corpse" thing pretty much falls flat on its face already (corpses decay instead of being preserved, and have no need of sustenance, contrary to vampires and zombies everywhere). Levitation can already be performed with magnets (we've levitated frogs that way), so it's conceivable some entity could do so on its own. Invisibility of vampires is often mind control rather than optics, so it's up to whether mind control feels plausible or not. Etc. Magical worlds let you get away with things "realistic" worlds can't.
    – MichaelS
    Jan 27 at 21:02
  • One person's "it's just a story" is another person's immersion-breaking implausibility. And often vice versa.
    – MichaelS
    Jan 27 at 21:04

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