I’ll preface this with some solid truth: I am a straight up Hannibal Lecter obsessive. When I was a kid, my Dad took me to Florence where I improv’d a Lecter tour of the city (Baltimore next.) Since watching Silence of the Lambs and having nightmares of the Doctor, I’ve been hooked – filling myself with every word written or said. In fact, I am so obsessed with the Thomas Harris’ twisted and cannibalistic character that I am pretty sure I’ve written about him before AND I’ve started in exactly this manner. Woops.
Anyway, the problem with all great things is that Hollywood tends to repeat themselves a little bit too much. They can’t just let brilliance be; which is why the whole murky background and meaningless slayings that made Lecter so terrifying were ruined by the presence of Hannibal Rising. Anyway, the announcement of a television series that would delve further into the character of Hannibal Lecter, particularly his relationship with Will Graham, off-set hesitation in me. After all, did we need more Hannibal in our lives?
Well, bite my tongue and eat it for super, as it would turn out, Hannibal is one of the most insatiable and delicious bits of television to grace our screens.
Curated by Bryan Fuller and enjoying directing talents such as Guillermo Navarro, Peter Medak, and David Slade, Hannibal tells the story of Behavioural Scientist Will Graham whose talent of pure empathy means he can get to the motives of a killer and find them. Utilised by the FBI, Graham starts to fall apart when he has to kill a murderer to stop the killer from slaughtering his own daughter. Seeking help afterwards, Graham winds up walking into the nest of Hannibal Lecter who preys upon his mind, wishing to devour his soul.
For hardcore fans of the books and movies, Hannibal is a loving, if albeit interpretative, piece of horror fiction that is tantalising from the very beginning. As developed in Fuller’s most recent American Gods series, the Hannibal show is rife with seductive gore and bloody creativity. Intense visual Gothic poetry crafts a spectacle, particularly in the wildly innovative, if highly disturbing, corpse imagery.
Despite twisting the narrative of the books and the films, Fuller’s work still honours the cannon. In fact, it delves into the most intimate and intricate crevices of Harris’ world and brings them to the foreground. The attention to detail is insane and whilst the narrative is contorted to appease a serial type viewing, the work of Harris is so defiantly honoured that you cannot help but love it as a peer to stand alongside Harris’ creations.
The acting truly reals you in with Mads Mikkelson taking the role of Hannibal Lecter to great depths. For many, he is the best version of Lecter: He is tender at times, poignant in places whilst still holding this air of terror. He cares for people in the way a cat would care for it’s mouse before digging the claws in but it makes for truly impressive viewing. As his plaything, Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham is terrific. Tackling the extremities of mental illness, Dancy is unafraid to get to the sore points of Graham’s world and his aching mentality. All the while he has strength to hunt down the bad guys and uncover the truth about Lecter. Mikkelson and Dancy’s relationship is filled with chemistry and it is endearing whilst frightening to watch – similar to Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Alongside them is Laurence Fishbourne, Gina Torres, and Raul Esparza, all pulling in memorable roles to flesh out this sinister tale.
Romping through the story, without underselling any second of it’s characters or atmosphere, Hannibal is an enriching piece of media that has secured thousands of fans. Despite this, NBC decided to cancel the series after the third season, much to the chagrin of it’s audience. Every year a near campaign to bring it back happens and, whilst it is amazing to continue to love and support, the likelihood of a return seems to get further away from us.
If you haven’t ventured into the world of Lecter, then allow Hannibal to introduce you to a beguiling, brutal, and brilliant villain. With Seasons 1 and 2 available to stream, Hannibal is a perfect autumn viewing treat.
It also has AMAZING cannibal puns so that’s worth the watch alone.