Newest Review: ... characters he comes across. Jodie Foster couldn't return as Starling, as she had just become a mother. So the role of Starling was r... more
The third cut is the deepest.
Member Name: bookguy
Advantages: Good acting, good direction and Lecktor even lets some people off.
Disadvantages: Ludicrous plot - but it doesn't matter.
A recent revisit of this film, (as part of a Hannibal Lecktor marathon including all the Hopkins films and Michael Mann's "Manhunter") has prompted me to reappraise the movie, and write a review. Hopefully I'll have something new to add to the 170-odd that are here already.
I should lay my cards on the table and say that the first time I saw it, I thought it was terrible, however on second viewing it has become my favourite of the quadrology.
Why this sea change? Two words, one name: Ridley Scott.
This masterful director transcends the hoky silliness of the book and makes a piece of wonderfully weird art out of it without changing its substance. He also makes of it a fine comedy.
Demme's "Silence of the Lambs" ends with a joke that turns on the pun of 'having an old friend for dinner', and "Hannibal" continues the blackly humourous 'grand guignol' theme. This really helps in understanding the movie in the context of the others. I must admit when I first read Thomas Harris' book I was sorely disappointed - I thought the situations trite and contrived, and the plotting lazy in comparison to his previous two Lecktor books - and this was particularly galling as this was the first with Lecktor as the 'main' character.
These plot deficiencies persist in the celluloid version, and on first viewing, they irritated me even more in the film than in the book. For example, I found the killer pig scenes incongruous, ridiculous, even . But on second viewing, I can see why they are there - they are the comedy trail for a great, ironic joke as Hannibal turns the tables on his tormentor. Similarly, the Florentine disembowelling done with genteel politeness and the extraordinary finale: a Mad-Hatter's tea party where a man is fed his own fried organs as part of an insane Sukiyaki.
As these set pieces unfold I found myself gripped with tension - a tension heightened by the absurd humour with which Scott leavens the film. Without it (and, of course, Hopkins grinning, gleeful mugging - he literally chews the scenery a lot of the time - and we shouldn't forget Gary Oldman as his flensed nemesis, gargling his Southern vowels with hammish torpor) Hannibal would have been indistinguishable from all of the other genius/serial killer films with which the shelves of Blockbuster are bursting, but with it, you have in your hands one of the best serial-killer movies ever made - and easily the best of Hopkin's Hannibals.
Summary: Terrific direction lifts pulp to masterpiece of humour and twisted love