Food for Thought

A maddening TV obsession: Hannibal

Promotional poster for season 2. Source: Wikipedia

While we’re on the topic of interesting things to see, the TV adaptation of the novel, Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. At first I was somewhat apprehensive about how good the show would actually be, considering Anthony Hopkins’ version of Dr Lecter in the films was really disturbing and unnerving. I definitely did not expect the TV adaptation also titled Hannibal to end up being one of my Must Watch TV series.

If you’ve not read the original book, the storyline follows an FBI agent (or in this case, a FBI special investigator, Will Graham played by Hugh Dancy) who is asked by Special Agent-In-Charge Jack Crawford (played by Morpheus, aka Laurence Fisburne) to help profile the killer in crime scenes. Of course, the series wouldn’t work without the help of Dr Hannibal Lecter, played by Mads Mikkelsen.

People often hear the name Hannibal Lecter and think of psychologically disturbing images and gruesome scenes. I honestly think that Anthony Hopkins encaptured his disturbing personality quite well, but at the same time that visual (who could forget his hypnotising eyes) and psychologically unnerving personality, so calm and collected, yet presenting an intelligent persona. The reason why I cringe at the thought of possibly starting from the beginning and watching The Silence of the Lambs again is because of Anthony Hopkins cunning and predatory nature.

With great apprehension, and just as great curiosity, I watched the first episode of the TV series first released early last year and was hooked. Mads’ version of Hannibal is a character whom you would love (and know) to hate, but there’s nothing about him that would make you fear him. The Dr Lecter you see appearing on your screen each week is a well dressed gentleman who is also a connoiseur in the kitchen and knows how to entertain his guests with exotic dishes.

Source: Filmologìe of monsters and little princesses

The show is now onto its second season (each with 13 episodes) and even now, I struggle to dislike Hannibal, knowing that he’s a cannibal, but yet his relationship with Will Graham (friend or scapegoat for his crimes?) keeps you on your toes. It’s not the image of Dr Lecter that disturbs the mind; the show plays on the audience’s preconceived notions and awareness of Hannibal’s fame to let your mind run wild with possibilities. Not once are you shown Dr Lecter cutting up a body and presenting this to his guests (unlike that scene in the 2001 film Hannibal where the guy’s skull cap is cut off and he’s served part of his own brain. The producer Bryan Fuller knows his stuff: he gives you a small tidbit and just like a book, your mind fills in the gaps with your own interpretations of what that might be.

Have you seen the TV adaptation of Hannibal? What do you think of the show? How do you feel about Mads Mikkelsen and Anthony Hopkins’ portrayals of Dr Lecter? Who do you prefer?


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