My absolute favorite romantic movie is Secretary. That’s not a scary movie, though, just kind of graphic. So I thought I’d write about my favorite romantic horror movie. That’s The Silence of the Lambs. But I just wrote about that. So I decided to write about Silence’s unattractive little sister that most people dislike, Hannibal. I don’t hate this movie with the passion that some people do, although I definitely dislike the ending, especially when compared with the book.
The most striking shortcoming of the movie is the lack of Jodie Foster. Julianne Moore is a good actress but her performance doesn’t command the power of Foster’s performance. That may be the fault of the script, this is the movie that has Hannibal saying “okey-dokey.” At points it’s kind of like being killed by Ned Flanders.
Avarice. Wrath. Love. This is all more than appropriate for Valentine’s Day. At one point in the movie, Lecter is lecturing at the Capponi Library in Florence about Dante Alighieri, the hanging fates of Judas Iscariot and Francesco Pazzi (The original, not the character in the movie who is later hanged) and he quotes from The Inferno, “I made my own home be my gallows.” That applies to the principle villains in Hannibal.
The movie takes place about a decade after the events in The Silence of the Lambs Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), a former patient of Lecter and his only surviving victim has passed the time buying Lecter memorabilia and plotting his revenge.
What I find lacking in the movie adaptation of Hannibal is the watering down of the absolute moral repugnance of Mason Verger. In the book, him and his sister, Margot, encounter Hannibal as patients. Mason molested Margot and other children at the children’s camp that his father founded. Whereas, in the movie, it’s hinted that Mason was involved in some kind of sex offense, no details are ever given. Mason’s quest isn’t a righteous quest for justice, he’s a character more morally repugnant than Hannibal and he only survived because Hannibal let him. I just don’t think that this is emphasized enough in the movie.
Commandatore Pazzi is the other principle villain, although of a more ambiguous nature than Mason Verger.
He was a formerly distinguished investigator and had worked the case of “Il Mostro,” which is actually based on a true serial-killer hunting in Florence. Pazzi is removed from the case for unknown reasons and starts investigating the disappearance of the chief curator of the Capponi Library. It’s there that Pazzi meets Lecter, known as Dr. Fell and hoping to gain the vacated post (That he probably aided in vacating.) Pazzi begins to suspect that Dr. Fell is not who he seems. Instead of doing the reasonable thing and contacting Interpol, he discovers Mason Verger’s reward for Lecter and decides that he can totally capture the guy who killed fourteen people, three of whom were holding him in custody. Then he can get the money and treat his pretty, young wife to lots of nights at the opera.
It turns out that Pazzi is related to Francesco Pazzi, who was hanged for killing Giuliano de Medici. That seems pretty stupid, killing a Medici. The original Pazzi was hanged.
Alas, Hannibal hangs Pazzi.
The final villain is Paul Krendler. We actually saw him, briefly, in The Silence of the Lambs, in the scene where Senator Martin meets Hannibal Lecter. Here, he’s played by an entirely different person, Ray Liotta. Krendler manages to embody greed, corruption, and lust. He’s bribed to help Mason Verger and has hit on Clarice Starling in the past. A generally icky man, who meets a nasty end.
Now, to love. Some moments in the film are actually quite beautiful. I generally agree with Marius that there’s something pretty perverse about the works of Dante, especially the loving details of those who are in the Inferno, but he can write beautifully about love. The scenes of Lecter at the opera reflect his love for Clarice, and I think that many people miss this. Consider the lines spoken by Allegra Pazzi and Hannibal:
Allegra: Dr. Fell, do you believe that a man can become so obsessed with a woman from a single encounter?
Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her and find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight and ache for him?
YES! I mean, *ahem*, yes, I see your plight.
The movie sees Clarice ten years later and faltering in the FBI. The reasons aren’t really given in the movie, but in the book it’s stated that she pissed off some powerful people when she solved the Buffalo Bill case. She’s blamed for a drug-raid gone wrong and Mason Verger uses her to hunt for Hannibal Lecter. He then uses her as an object of distress to lure Hannibal to him.
Starling is incorruptible. Frankly, I find it to be maddening. Why retain any sort of loyalty to a system that hates you and can never understand you? In fact, a system that actively seeks to destroy you. Especially when there’s a man who rescues you from pigs, buys you beautiful clothes, prepares an insane meal for you, tries to destroy your enemies, kisses you, and then chops his own hand off.
If that’s not a declaration of love then I don’t know what love is.
All isn’t lost with this movie. There are some really beautiful shots and the music is striking and haunting. I actually have the soundtrack, there are some beautiful moments, especially the moments at the opera and Lecter reading his letter to Clarice.
If anything, this movie can act like a promotion for Florence. I always really want to go to Florence after seeing it. This may be due to the fact that I’m a Renaissance buff and studied Italian in high school.
Sadly, this movie lacks real scares although there is some gore. Mostly the pigs eating people kind of gore. But it did put me in the mood for Valentine’s Day. And by “mood for Valentine’s Day,” I mean it made me want to decapitate a saint. Go Romans!