NBC’s Hannibal is based on the character Thomas Harris created in his novel, RED DRAGON. You probably recognize the name Hannibal Lecter from the classic 1991 film, Silence of the Lambs, which starred Anthony Hopkins in the iconic role and Jodie Foster in the role of FBI agent-in-training, Clarice Starling. This show and the movies (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon, and the 1984 film, Manhunter) all share the same inspiration.
Now, I’m still working through the movies and I may touch on them later this year, but today I want to focus on the television show. In a review for Silence of the Lambs I wrote on the website Letterboxd, I ended that review stating that the movies and this TV show were different animals. That is a word of caution before you dive into this world, or even if you have already been a part of it, but haven’t sat down to watch the most recent take on these characters. They do not work with each other at all.
For a series on network television, HANNIBAL is not for the faint of heart. It is graphic and absolutely pushes the envelope on the typical formula for shows. There is plenty of gore and nudity, though it is blurred.
The story focuses primarily on the relationship of Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Will is an empath. He has the ability to essentially experience the murders that he investigates and reconstructs them in his mind. All the while doing damage to his own psyche. That is where Hannibal comes in. He is a psychiatrist who is contracted by the FBI to work with Will and his team, run by Jack Crawford (played by Laurence Fishburne). In addition to working with Will to help break down each murder, he also sees him as a patient to check on his mental health.
The show is extremely well-written and acted. It is also a good mix of drama, horror, procedural, thriller, and mystery. It’s what stood out to me when I watched the first episode. It was like nothing I had seen on TV. It was unique and Bryan Fuller, the show runner and producer, knew that. He took risks, especially making the psychology as big a character as Will, Hannibal, or any of the other characters that showed up. Some of it went over my head, which I actually loved. That gives me a reason to rewatch it.
I can’t spoil any part of this show. There’s too much contained in the three seasons that I couldn’t focus on anything in particular. What I will do is talk about characters. (You knew it was coming!)
As I mentioned before, Will Graham – played by Hugh Dancy – is an empath and put himself in the figurative shoes of the killers. His ability to empathize so strongly gives him a supernatural insight into these things and impoverished the course of the show does damage to him. Will is the “us” guy. We get to feel what he feels through every moment in each episode. Even though he is the hero, there at moments when you have to wonder.
Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter is absolutely fantastic. He has this calm, unflappable demeanor throughout the entire show that is chilling. He is essentially a dead soul, but he’s interesting all the time. I kept finding myself asking, What is he thinking? What is he planning? Every single time, I was surprised. I might have even rooted for him a little? Maybe?
The only thing I remember seeing Laurence Fishburne in before this was The Matrix, but that was ages ago. His role, Jack Crawford, fit perfectly with Will and Hannibal. In fact, the opening credit sequence contains those three characters because their relationships feed off of one another. He pushes Will a little more in every episode, in spite of the toll it could take on him. At the same time, he is manipulated masterfully by Hannibal. Again, these three characters work so well together.
There are a lot of other folks that pop into the show throughout all three seasons, but I don’t have time to get into them. I highly suggest that you watch this, though. It is very well done, shot excellently, and the food… despite a lot of it being human in some way or another, it is gorgeous. And for a foodie fat boy like me, I would gladly eat somebody’s leg if it was prepared like one of these dishes. (Gross, right?)
You can watch the entire series on Amazon Prime Video and it is absolutely worth the 36 hours you’ll put into it.
That is the end of my talk about Hannibal, but before I sign of, I wanted to announce the winner of the 2017 Year-End Giveaway: David Arington.
David I’ll get in touch with you via email or Facebook soon to get your mailing address so I can send you a copy of The Powde Keg EP. It’s a punk rock EP that my co-host Mike Kostrewa released this past summer. I did the design work on it and even though that’s the case, it is a lot of fun. I hope you like it!
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