“The Silence of the Lambs” has written film history. Not only because as a horror thriller it offers absolutely nerve-wracking high tension and is therefore often mentioned in the same breath as David Fincher’s “Seven”. As such a representative of the genre, director Jonathan Demme’s film was also able to win the Oscars – in the categories that matter: best film, best director, leading actor, leading actress and screenplay.
At a time when genre films and especially horror films had to eke out a rather neglected existence at the Oscars, the triumph of “The Silence of the Lambs” was absolutely extraordinary. So extraordinary that even Thomas Harris, the original’s author, had his problems writing a sequel because he constantly had Anthony Hopkins in mind as the cannibal Hannibal Lecter.
After Harris delivered the novel “Hannibal” in 1999, it was of course only a matter of time before the film followed – and in 2001 this happened under the direction of Ridley Scott. Sounds Oscar-worthy again just from the director who brought us Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down, right? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! Hannibal, which is currently available on Netflix subscription, was largely panned by critics and failed to garner audience enthusiasm. Unfortunately!
» “Hannibal” on Netflix
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The special thing about “Hannibal” in contrast to “Red Dragon” (which was already adapted by Michael Mann as “Blood Moon” in the 1980s) and “The Silence of the Lambs” is the fact that Dr. Hannibal Lecter really here for the first time at his bloody craft as a cannibal serial killer may. Although things were not delicate in “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Red Dragon”, the violence was well dosed and rarely came from Hannibal himself.
This point also sets the course for the tonality of “Hannibal”, which no longer necessarily wants to function as a highly atmospheric suspense cinema in which you are offered sophisticated characters. Instead, Ridley Scott seized the opportunity and staged expensive (budget: almost 90 million US dollars) high-end trash, often reminiscent of the lurid exploitation cinema of the 1970s, in which the glaring effect was always in the foreground.
Ridley Scott flexes his muscles in the production and as a viewer with a penchant for elaborate tracking shots, detail-obsessed and magnificent sets and masterful light and shadow games, they get their money’s worth here. In fact, however, the whole thing is so strikingly and lavishly staged that “Hannibal” not only seems like a soap opera, but also like the result of formally aesthetic self-adulation.
That would be a problem if Ridley Scott didn’t happily play with open cards here – and, as already mentioned, orientate himself towards the cinema of the 1970s. He doesn’t really care about the story, he’s only concerned with creating the most virtuosic, thoroughly decadent visual worlds possible. And in this case it’s not only highly entertaining, but also damn fascinating. You just have to know how to take “Hannibal”. Anyone who expects a masterpiece of the brand “The Silence of the Lambs” fails not only because of the film, but also because of themselves.
And that’s where the violence comes into play, which of course is by no means neglected in this million dollar pulp novel. Almost satirically, “Hannibal” indulges in the bloody excesses of the original and really celebrates it when Wild boars in bloodlust attacking human bodies, or the recently deceased Ray Liotta – well, yes – eating expendable parts of his own brain. Of course aromatically enriched with truffles!
What fans of The Silence Of The Lambs may find really disturbing, however, is the portrayal of Hannibal Lecter himself. If you remember the diabolical aura of Anthony Hopkins that practically usurped the film, then Hannibal ‘ an almost condescending antithesis. Here, Hopkins trundles through Florence like he’s off the catwalk Fashion Week favor. Ultimately, that doesn’t change the fact that “Hannibal” as a curious noble trash opera is really a sensational bash.
The notorious and highly intelligent cannibal Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) escaped from maximum security prison seven years ago and now lives a life with all the benefits and privileges. But FBI agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) is tormented by nightmares in which the serial killer is talking to her.
Mason Verger (disfigured beyond recognition: Gary Oldman) also doesn’t forget his encounter with Hannibal – because he wants revenge for the fact that Hannibal was once able to manipulate him so extremely that he brutally disfigured his own face – and puts on a handsome sum the capture of the psychopath from…