Wednesday, February 14, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 96



Deranged doctor returns in ‘Hannibali


*** (out of five stars)
Rated R
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore

20th Century Fox

By Geronimo Rodriguez
Daily Cougar Staff

It seems that Ridley Scottis latest work, Hannibal, focuses more on what an insane mind does than why it does it. 

This technique deviates from what author Thomas Harris usually does in his works and separates Hannibal from its predecessor, The Silence of the Lambs

With this said, the earlier (and more thorough) film should be compared carefully to Hannibal, considering the route the filmmakers take in conveying just how demented Harrisis character, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, truly is.

In Hannibal, Dr. Lecter is found in Florence, Italy living a life that accommodates his fine taste. 

Lecter attends operas and looks out his window to find the very same scenery that he could only draw when he was incarcerated in Baltimore.

Veteran stage presence Anthony Hopkins reprises his role as the cannibalistic doctor Hannibal Lecter.

John Seakwood/
Universal Pictures

Meanwhile, Clarice Starling is still trying to establish herself within the ranks of the FBI. 

The struggles Clarice experienced before she had proven herself by cracking the notorious "Buffalo Bill" case are still apparent. Clarice also finds herself trying to fill the void that Lecter had helped her fill in the past.

Apparently, the lambs have started to cry again. Many critics feel that Thomas Harris has tarnished his characters and their future with Hannibal. The film is more gruesome and explicit than Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal is not handled as well as the earlier film.

First of all, everyone knows what "Hannibal the Cannibal" is known for doing. Lecter is on the run, and heis going to do as he pleases with whomever he pleases. 

When the good doctor was locked away in a dungeon, he still found ways to take bites out of peopleis faces and was manipulative enough to get one character to swallow his own tongue. So Dr. Lecter should not surprise many with what he is capable of doing in the sequel.

But in order to maintain the mystique that surrounded the unique and colorful characters in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal needed to be directed carefully.

In Hannibal, the invincible Dr. Lecter shows his vulnerability and Clariceis void needs to be addressed more than before. A great deal of emotion is needed for these characters to show that they have departed from where Silence of the Lambs left them.

The earlier film carefully created Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling from scratch, making them memorable figures in filmmaking history. Some may attribute this success to the actors who filled the lead roles; Hopkins and Jodie Foster delivered brilliant and memorable performances in Silence of the Lambs.

However, it is apparent in Hannibal that Harrisis novel provides the material that has these characters evolving. But Ridley Scottis directing does not focus on this behavior. In Hannibal, Scott focuses on the style and scenery, whereas Jonathan Demmeis Silence of the Lambs focuses on the more important material, which gives the earlier film a lasting quality.

Demmeis directing in Silence of the Lambs expresses more emotion and detail than Hannibal does. 

His thorough scenes allowed Clarice (Foster) to alter her attitude and state of mind throughout the film. And for the few minutes that the camera was on Dr. Lecter (Hopkins), Demme didnit dwell on the characteris infamous eating habits. 

Instead, he gave the film scenes with Lecter that expressed something about him, or where his analytical mind took him.

Demme stayed away from some of the more gruesome details of Harrisi work and offered more thought-provoking scenes between the two characters, both while they were apart and together. 

However, Ridley Scott treats the filmis sequences carelessly, pasting them together as if heis merely following a routine for directing films. 

The darkening of the film (which is in most of his films) and his thoughtless scenes with the characters keep any emotion from developing.

Both Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore perform well in their leading roles.

Hopkins starts where he left off, but the quality of the film when the lens is on him does not allow him to equal his previous Oscar-winning performance. 

And Julianne Moore does what she can with the scraps the filmmaker gives her.

This is unfortunate for Ridley Scott, who has delivered such memorable works as Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator

But Scottis failure to be as thorough with Hannibal and its characters is no surprise, considering the amount of patience needed for these three-dimensional characters to become as well-rounded as they were in Silence of the Lambs.

Furthermore‚ in the works of Harris, the idea of studying the inner workings of a mind is embedded deep inside the lead characters and their actions.

An earlier work of Harrisi, Red Dragon, was depicted in 1986is Manhunter when director Michael Mann led us through a FBI agentis disheveled life. 

The filmmaking is not as clean and stylish as Mannis more recent films, but his presence behind the camera is apparent. 

Manhunter expresses a different way of looking at a murder/mystery film. The intellectual story relies on Will Grahamis (William L. Peterson, The Skulls) ability to interrupt a psychopathis mindset. 

This creates an understanding, regardless of how demented it may seem, between the agent and the killer. Why does this person kill? 

As the FBI specialist uncovers the answer, he gets closer to how and when the psychopath kills. The psychopathis character, played by Tom Noonan (The Pledge), is not as developed as it could be, but the story focuses more on Petersonis character anyway.

In 1991is Silence of the Lambs, Harrisi intricate story was given a profitable lift from an excellent leading cast. 

Again, the foundation is found in the relationship between a mind that wants to understand and a mind that wants to murder. 

The idea may seem far-fetched when one thinks about the scene in Lambs when the bond between the two is born -- Clarice succumbs to Lecteris quid pro quo, sharing personal and scarring memories with the murderer. 

But the details as to why Clarice opens up to him, and why Lecteris need to analyze would benefit her, are in the film when itis examined closely. Jonathan Demme handles the storyis subplots just as well as Mann did with Harrisi earlier work. Itis worth mentioning that, unlike in Manhunter, Harris develops the two characters evenly in this story. 

Finally, Hannibal can be viewed in two ways. Either Thomas Harris has gone too far with Lecter and Starlingis understanding of one another, or he has satisfied himself and has come full circle with his idea of two minds understanding one another so much that they become one. 

Basically, while Ridley Scott contributes many qualities to Hannibal, he never acknowledges the lasting and compelling ideas found throughout Harrisi work. While Hannibal entertains with its attractive images, the film only nibbles off Silence of the Lambs and what it established when it comes to quality character development.

And as Ridley Scott clearly mishandles this concept in Hannibal, he has inflicted more damage to Dr. Lecter and Clarice Starlingis characters than Thomas Harris has. The film is not as compelling, and will not be as memorable, as The Silence of the Lambs.

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