Hannibal Essay, Research Paper
For those interested in seeing Hannibal, you ll find greater enjoyment of the movie if you avoid comparing it to Silence of the Lambs, its smashing predecessor. Hannibal has a different style, altered tone, and a sweeping change in story emphasis. In short, it s bigger, simpler, and a bit more predictable. That being said, director Ridley Scott (in his Gladiator follow-up) brings on an effective, sometimes faulty, marginally successful thriller. Just don t expect to be knee-deep in the mind games of Jonathan Demme s superior 1991 classic.
The action picks up some months after Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter s escape from that homey, isolated cell in Silence of the Lambs. He has fled to Florence, somehow conniving his way into a position as a museum curator, where he can cultivate and brag about his knowledge of the arts, most notably works depicting brutal hangings.
Meanwhile back in the US, FBI agent Clarice Starling (a very capable Julianne Moore, slipping nicely into Jodie Foster s creation) is in boiling hot water for the botched arrest of an HIV-positive drug lord, and feels her career slipping away as a result. She soon meets with Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), a wounded, deformed man with lavish wealth, who is hell-bent on capturing and torturing Lecter by making him swine meal. It seems that Lecter once drugged the man in a social setting, and then convinced him to tear off pieces of his face with a glass shard and feed them to a dog. Payback really must be a bitch.
Anyway, Lecter (the slithery Anthony Hopkins, if you didn t already know) somehow ends up back on the FBI s Most Wanted list. And he also contacts Starling again, continuing their unique game of cat-and-mouse.
One big problem with the story, however, is that we really don t know why this happens. That s a major trip-up in the script, where the motivation for action is sacrificed in the name of just cutting to the chase. Veteran screenwriter David Mamet (State and Main) and rewrite man Steven Zaillian (Schindler s List) compile a tense, witty script, but holes like this are apparent. (Like why the hell is everybody in Italy speaking English?! Even the phone operator!)
So Starling tracks Lecter through department-store videotapes, Verger spends unending riches to hunt for the guy, and shamed Florence police detective Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) is also on the trail, after the $3 million reward that will keep his young trophy wife happy (gimme a break.) Does it all come together? Kind of, but not as well as it could.
Julianne Moore does a fine job of inhabiting the role of Starling, affecting a slight twang, appearing sad, yet determined, and displaying that clean, hard-working look that Foster had. Hopkins remains a treasure to watch and listen to, especially as Lecter: his visible contempt, crisp diction with that slight femininity in his voice, and confident quick motions, complete the picture of this complex, delicate man.
Unfortunately, the movie itself is not as comprehensive. Jonathan Demme approached Silence of the Lambs from a rich, thought-provoking angle that reflected his usually offbeat sensibility; Ridley Scott directs Hannibal much like he helmed Gladiator, or even Alien: there s a good guy, bad guy, big setting, conflict, and smash-em-up ending. Hannibal even has the gore of those other films, but here it s more grotesque and even sickening. Remember the grisly images of Silence of the Lambs? You can t because there weren t any.
So, as you can tell, comparing the two movies only hurts the latter. Which is unfair, because it s certainly ample entertainment. There s just no need to put your thinking caps on, because Hannibal aims less for the pop psychology, and more for the pop.