The perfect set of films
Victoria A. Wildermuth | Odessa, TX USA | 01/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thank goodness that Red Dragon is NOT included in this set. The set includes Michael Mann's excellent "Manhunter", Jonathan Demme's "Silence of the Lambs" and the surprisingly good "Hannibal" directed by Ridley Scott. I hate to say it, but Red Dragon was a bomb; it was a pale imitation of Manhunter and I am thrilled that, due to its release by another studio, it has been left out. If you have never seen Brian Cox's performance as Lektor in "Manhunter", you will be chilled to the bone. Anthony Hopkins actually seems to have emulated Cox when he first starred as Lektor in "Silence". This set is such a deal. "Manhunter" and "Silence of the Lambs" are true masterpieces and Hannibal does not disappoint - it is Hopkins' film -- a shame that Jodie Foster refused to reprise her role as Clarice Starling in "Hannibal". This is your rare opportunity to get the theatrical release of "Manhunter" in widescreen. Never, and I mean never, waste money on director's cuts of "Manhunter" on DVD. I have seen the director's cut and it is not worth it . . . thankfully it is out of print."
TAKE ME TO THE DARK SIDE
A.J., a francophone | Quebec, Canada | 03/09/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like the novel, Ridley Scott's Hannibal is a journey into Lecter's universe. Julianne Moore said it best: this film is like an "hallucination". The hallucination of a madman (in this case an almost godly-superhuman madman not your real-life serial killer) in which the madman is the hero.The Silence of the Lambs was basically about Clarice Starling. Hannibal is more than ever about Hannibal Lecter, and so the movie must be as morbidly perverse as the doctor himself, because this is his world. It's his movie. Starling had her chance to be the star in Silence of the Lambs. Now Lecter gets his in Hannibal.Director Ridley Scott is able to capture the essence of Hannibal's universe, FIRST through beautiful, luscious visuals (this film is much more beautiful than Demme's Silence - hope John Mathieson will not be forgotten come next year's Oscars), THEN through classical music (without sounding pretentious I think Hans Zimmer's original score also has a very classical root - hope Zimmer is not forgotten come next year's Oscars - this is a masterful score), and FINALLY through gruesome, shocking images. I'm sorry but the violence was necessary for this film, because, again, it is Lecter's world we are entering. Frankie Faison (who plays Barney) also said something interesting that brings further understanding of this film: "Silence of the Lambs was more in your head, while Hannibal is more in your face", and that's exactly right. Since this is a madman's hallucination it wouldn't make sense to hide us from its true horrors.I'm disappointed, not by the movie, but by the reaction of most critics (but thank you Mr. Corliss). I'm not going to use that old excuse and say critics didn't understand it, but your enjoyment of a movie depends on the way you perceive things.My only problem with the film is that the supporting characters lack the depth of the novel, particularly Cordell Doemling and Krendler. I would have liked to see Mason's sister Margot who was erased for the film. The film's ending is an interesting one, although very different from the novel. As different as the ending is the last two minutes WERE in the book, only it doesn't occur at the same time in the story. Hannibal has flaws, but it remains a strong, moving (I was moved by the dynamic between Lecter and Starling, especially when it all comes together in the end), sensory experience. Hopkins remains hypnotic in most scenes (the Academy, remember this). Julianne Moore delivers the goods, particularly in the emotional scenes. Gary Oldman as Mason Verger is chilling with his rusty, raw voice (hope the makeup for this film is not forgotten come next year's Oscars, that would be a crime)....let Hannibal haunt you!!! And don't compare it too much to Silence of the Lambs, because it's not the same kind of movie and its aims are not the same.Note: Hope the studio goes all out on the DVD and make it the ultimate Hannibal Lecter collector's edition. Documentary, deleted scenes (I think there's an hour of unused footage, so put it there please), in-depth commentaries, behind-the-scenes photos, maybe a little word from Thomas Harris (that would be a dream come true Mr. Harris), and so on, and so on."
Much more than a grotesque horror film
Karen Gassaway | San Diego, CA United States | 11/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Writing this movie off as a senseless catalogue of horrors does a terrible injustice to it. In this version, Lecter is free and living in Tuscany, which automatically involves a shift in the tone of the film. No longer the caged animal, Dr. Lecter is living the high life in Florence as an expert in Medieval and Early Renaissance Literature. Lecter free is Lecter happy, and Anthony Hopkins admirably portrays his verve. I thought Julianne Moore portrayed an older, more world-weary, Clarice Starling with skill, and is by no means just a second-choice-after-Jodie-Foster. Foster's Starling was inexperienced, though promising. Moore shows the flowering of that promise superbly. Gary Oldman played as he always does, with a brilliant conviction. But enough, anyone can test the truth of this by viewing the movie.What I thought was missing in previous reviews, and which spurred me to write this one, is an explanation for the violence of Hannibal. It was sufficient to turn many viewers' stomachs, and I'm not entirely sure that they were wrong, albeit one can see equally graphic video of *real live people* with the top of their head cut away while undergoing brain surgery--in some cases they are still conscious and talking! In the other cases, the cinematography shows very little. The disfiguring of Mason Verger is in blurry and shaky camera work, the attack on the nurse (referred to in Silence and played in video here) is entirely obscured by Lecter's back and the bodies of two orderlies, and the final end of Mason Verger is again primarily not seen, only enough is shown to give us an idea of the horror. That so many reacted so strongly suggests that Ridley Scott achieved his probable goal in showing us little, but making it seem like much more. The violence is not gratuitous, nor does it detract from the psychological aspects of the story, rather it allows us to delve into the psychology of Lecter as never before. Hannibal is Lecter's murderous fantasies made flesh, just as the equally mad Mason Verger nurses his plans of revenge by flesh-eating boars. In each case, these wealthy, cultured men seem to take their inspiration from their reading, and here's the irony in the previous reviews which decry Hannibal as an expression of everything that is wrong with American culture and cinema: Hannibal's violence comes straight from the classic literature and arts both he and Mason Verger live on. The analogy between the death of Rinaldo Pazzi and the end of Judas Iscariot is made explicit, but there are even more instances of literary borrowings. Adonis was killed by a man-eating boar, and even eating brains has literary precedent: Ugolino della Gherardesca, the Count of Donoratico, was of a Ghibelline family, but double-crossed them to raise the Guelphs to power in Pisa. When the Ghibellines seized control, he was dispatched to prison by Archbishop Ruggieri degli Ubaldini where he died. They both betrayed something, the Archbishop his acquantance, and the Count his country and family tradition, so Dante put them both in Cocytus in Canto XXXIII, where the Count was forever eating away at the brain of his treacherous friend. Thyestes may also be another model, in this case the Thyestian banquet is made even more ironic by the fact that Krendler is unaware of his self-cannibalization. This is the sort of stuff Lecter and Verger learned, and it's not ultimately unsurprising that they'd fashion their revenges and violence on classical models, which allows us insight into the way they think. Far from being less psychologically interesting than its predecessor, Hannibal becomes more so, because we are able to see their motivations made plain by each act of violence.So, for those who are still offended, be careful not to look to closely at classic literature, Greek and Roman myth, the works of ancient historians, and don't ever attend the opera!Ta ta."
A Piece of His Mind
Archmaker | California | 03/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I read the book Hannibal and thought it was unfilmable. I was pleasantly surprised therefore to find that two superb screenwriters, David Mamet and Steve Zaillion, were able to make the changes necessary to delete the parts of the book that didn't work while keeping the essence of Thomas Harris's exercise in dark malevolence.Hannibal Lecter is the boogie man. He is the distillation of the nightmare villain...brilliant, cultured, educated, refined, erudite and thoroughly ruthless and bloodthirsty. He is a creation of fiction, no more real than Dracula or Professor Moriarty. He bears no resemblance to actual serial killers, who by and large are a drab, colorless, undistinguished lot. Maybe that's why we are fascinated by Hannibal, all that talent and charm put to wicked uses.Please note one thing, the book and the movie take place 10 years AFTER Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Starling is not the wide-eyed innocent of Silence, but a street-tough working cop that is getting jerked around by the bureaucracy she has served faithfully and well. She is the only truly moral person in an unjust and cruel world. It is that morality that ironically is her attraction for Hannibal. It would have been interesting to see, but I'm not sure Jody Foster could have brought that toughness to the role. Julianne Moore did fine.Anthony Hopkins owns the role. As in Silence, it isn't him jumping out and going "BOO!" that makes us uneasy, it is the sinister stillness and self-posession of his Hannibal that frightens and chills. All that evil nastiness contained within that can be unleashed at any time. Hopkin's Hannibal is a marvelous creation of wit and charm, ridding the world of "free range rude".Speaking of nastiness, the movie is wickedly funny with lots of nasty tidbits. "Okee dokee, here we go now" as matter-of-factly as an usher or a tour guide, "bowels in or out?".I don't know if Thomas Harris was trying to write a sequel so over-the-top lurid as a challenge to Hollywood "I dare you to film this" or if he looked around at a culture so harsh and unjust and cruel and crass that he decided to pour all of that into his book and pull a terrific stunt...make the cannibal the hero. Regardless, he gave us a deliciously wicked read that Ridley Scott has transformed into a stylish and wicked movie.Not for everyone's taste (pun intended) for sure, and not with the broad appeal of Silence, Hannibal exists on it's own terms and has it's own pleasures and rewards. The supporting performances are all fine, cinematography excellent. Finally, the material ultimately is not as emotionally engaging as Silence, and for that it just misses 5 stars...but another encounter with Clarice and Dr. Lecter is more interesting than most."