Deranged doctor returns
*** (out of five stars)
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne
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
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.
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
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
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.