Viewer’s Cut: Hannibal

(Source: NBC)

(Source: NBC)

Light spoilers, nothing that will spoil your appetite.

I must confess that I started NBC’s Hannibal thinking to myself that nobody could top Anthony Hopkins’ personification of Hannibal Lecter. As it turns out, the character is interesting enough to span another incarnation. The show really deserves you to sit down and watch from the first episode until the last. It’s morbidly beautiful, stylishly decadent and somehow makes the sociopath a sort of artist, although one you’d want to keep at a healthy distance.

Hugh Dancy plays the main character, Will Graham. The name should sound familiar to you if you went a little more into the books than just the 1991 film. He’s a criminal profiler and a special consultant for the FBI with the unique talent of looking at the evidence and being able to imagine the actual criminal act from a murder scene. When he does, we’re actually able to witness the event as it happens, except that in Will’s mind he’s always taking the place of the culprit. Will is not immune to the experience, it profoundly affects him and disturb him.

The character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is played in the TV series by Mads Mikkelsen. The show first introduces him as a secondary character, but everytime he cooks he’s the main feature. The Doctor’s cooking is presented as elegant and sumptuous with classical music playing in the background. It’s almost mouth-watering until you consider the possibility that he’s actually cooking people. It’s a constant game that the show plays between been revolted and being tempted.

Lawrence Fishburne plays FBI Special Agent Jack Crawford, who leads the FBI Behavioural Science Unit in Quantico, Virginia. This is a much more intense character than any of the previous incarnations, a lot more authoritarian but also somewhat more vulnerable. Jack is the one that decides on a psychiatrist to make sure Will doesn’t get lost in all the murders he consults on. He’s also a frequent guest at Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s table.

The person who recommends Dr. Lecter is Dr. Alanna Bloom, a psychology professor who lectures at Quantico played by Caroline Dhavernas. Alanna was a student of Lecter’s. She seems to have a lot of empathy for Will Graham, and constantly warns Jack Crawford not let Will too close to the abyss.

Murder crimes investigated in the show range from the shockingly gruesome to the disturbingly crafted. While some crime scenes are just a bloody carnage, others have elements worthy of a nightmare inspired by Salvador Dali. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always nightmare fuel. You won’t find any Tim Burton gothic fairy tale here. It’s serious as death. And yet, there’s twisted elegance in it.

That’s all I’m saying. The less you know, the better. Definitely recommended if want horror – both psychological and visual – done right. Yes, Silence of the Lambs was a great film and a great performance, but to ignore the Hannibal TV series would simply be… rude.

Highs:

  • After a few episodes I was really invested in all the characters involved. Definitive versions of Will Graham and Jack Crawford. I will give Hopkins his due, but Mikkelsen does play a devious mastermind of a sociopath.
  • The cooking segments can be intriguing. You almost want to try that dish. Almost.
  • As the focus of the investigation centers on the murders by the Chesapeake Ripper, the crime scenes become more and more elaborate. They are almost artlike, but they’re all nightmare fuel.
  • You get to visit the familiar location of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Its administrator, Dr. Frederick Chilton as played by Raul Esparza, also becomes part of the cast later on.

Lows:

  • I can’t quite think of one.

That will do for now.

Coming soon:

(Source: NBC.com)

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