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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Piece of His Mind, March 23, 2001
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This review is from: Hannibal (Two-Disc Special Edition) (DVD)
I read the book Hannibal and thought it was unfilmable. I was pleasantly surprised therefore to find that two superb screenwriters, David Mamet and Steve Zaillion, were able to make the changes necessary to delete the parts of the book that didn't work while keeping the essence of Thomas Harris's exercise in dark malevolence.
Hannibal Lecter is the boogie man. He is the distillation of the nightmare villain...brilliant, cultured, educated, refined, erudite and thoroughly ruthless and bloodthirsty. He is a creation of fiction, no more real than Dracula or Professor Moriarty. He bears no resemblance to actual serial killers, who by and large are a drab, colorless, undistinguished lot. Maybe that's why we are fascinated by Hannibal, all that talent and charm put to wicked uses.
Please note one thing, the book and the movie take place 10 years AFTER Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Starling is not the wide-eyed innocent of Silence, but a street-tough working cop that is getting jerked around by the bureaucracy she has served faithfully and well. She is the only truly moral person in an unjust and cruel world. It is that morality that ironically is her attraction for Hannibal. It would have been interesting to see, but I'm not sure Jody Foster could have brought that toughness to the role. Julianne Moore did fine.
Anthony Hopkins owns the role. As in Silence, it isn't him jumping out and going "BOO!" that makes us uneasy, it is the sinister stillness and self-posession of his Hannibal that frightens and chills. All that evil nastiness contained within that can be unleashed at any time. Hopkin's Hannibal is a marvelous creation of wit and charm, ridding the world of "free range rude".
Speaking of nastiness, the movie is wickedly funny with lots of nasty tidbits. "Okee dokee, here we go now" as matter-of-factly as an usher or a tour guide, "bowels in or out?".
I don't know if Thomas Harris was trying to write a sequel so over-the-top lurid as a challenge to Hollywood "I dare you to film this" or if he looked around at a culture so harsh and unjust and cruel and crass that he decided to pour all of that into his book and pull a terrific stunt...make the cannibal the hero. Regardless, he gave us a deliciously wicked read that Ridley Scott has transformed into a stylish and wicked movie.
Not for everyone's taste (pun intended) for sure, and not with the broad appeal of Silence, Hannibal exists on it's own terms and has it's own pleasures and rewards. The supporting performances are all fine, cinematography excellent. Finally, the material ultimately is not as emotionally engaging as Silence, and for that it just misses 5 stars...but another encounter with Clarice and Dr. Lecter is more interesting than most.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 9, 2013 1:06:03 PM PST
You must be a professional writer. Excellent writing.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2013 1:45:05 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 9, 2013 1:45:20 PM PST
Archmaker says:
Nope. But thank you for the kind remark.
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Archmaker
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