Category Archives: Films in the Hannibal Lecter series
Directed by Ridley Scott
Based on the novel by Thomas Harris
Hannibalpicks up ten years from where The Silence of the Lambs leaves off. An escaped Hannibal Lecter is living a life of luxury in Florence, Italy. Agent Clarice Starling is disgraced by an incident that occurs during a high profile shoot-out. She is a pariah to her colleagues in the FBI and is considered a disgrace. In his own twisted fashion Dr. Lecter returns toAmerica to defend her honor. Can a beautiful FBI agent and a cannibalistic genius live happily ever after? Well…kind of. Goody g00dy.
Now I know that there are those of you out there who are critical of the casting of Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling. I do not join you in your sentiments. The change in casting represents two entirely different times in the life of Agent Starling. Foster’s and Moore’s Starling are two entirely different people. One was green and inexperienced while the other is now wiser and more jaded to the ways of the world she is a part of. In the first film Starling is thrown to the wolf, Lecter. In this film the very people she works for are the wolves. After watching this film I don’t know who more of a cannibal is; the FBI or Hannibal Lecter.
Giancarlo Giannini stars as Inspector Pazzi, an Italian police officer determined to capture Lecter and reap the rewards. It is hilarious to hear Lecter insult him and his heritage at every turn. Pazzi may as well be wearing a shirt that says “I tried to capture Hannibal Lecter and I met the same fate as my ancestor.” When Pazzi’s death finally occurs at the hands of Lecter, I have to admit I was secretly thanking the good doctor. Giannini’s character is a lout and a pig, obnoxious and ignorant. Of course this being Giancarlo Giannini the part is played to the highest of expectations. Ray Liotta stars as the proverbial thorn in the side of Agent Starling. His character is as corrupt as Giannini’s is loutish. Rounding out the cast are Francesca Neri, Gary Oldman and Frankie Faison; the latter whom reprises his role as Nurse Barney from TSOTL.
Under the direction of Ridley Scott,Hannibalis a near-perfect film. It’s not the great film that Silence was but that doesn’t matter. It stands on its own two feet and that is really all we ask of it.
When Jodie Foster declined to reprise the role of Clarice Starling, Julianne Moore beat Gillian Anderson, Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Heather Locklear, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Drew Barrymore, Winona Ryder, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields, Kristin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Calista Flockhart, Helen Hunt, Sandra Bullock, Christina Applegate, Jennifer Connelly, Meg Ryan, Shannen Doherty, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Eggert and Teri Hatcher for the role. Anderson fell out of the running early on when it was discovered her contract to “The X Files” (1993) prohibited her from playing another FBI agent. Davis and Parker both turned down the part due to their contract to HBO’s “Sex and the City” (1998). Flockhart declined due to her contract to “Ally McBeal” (1997).
After Thomas Harris finished writing the novel, he sent copies to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) principals Jonathan Demme, Jodie Foster, Ted Tally, and Anthony Hopkins for approval. The screenplay was rewritten no less than 15 times because of dissatisfaction by Demme and Foster over new character elements. In the end, neither Demme nor Foster remained with the production.
In Florence, where part of the movie was shot, it is possible to buy a sort of tourist guide called: “Hannibal Lecter. Visit the places of the city where he was.”
Hannibal asks Pazzi about being demoted from the Il Mostro case. Il Mostro was a serial killer about whom Hannibal gives clues to Pazzi. This was a subplot that was filmed but never used as it was thought to be too complicated.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS-United States-1991
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Screenplay by Ted Tally
Based on the novel by Thomas Harris
I wonder if Thomas Harris knew just what a powder-keg of a book he had written. Did Jonathan Demme have any idea he was directing what would be the biggest movie of his career? What about Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins; did they have any suspicion that they were starring in a masterpiece? Did any of them realize they were a part of the greatest serial killer film of all time? If they didn’t know it then I guarantee you they know it now.
There is not a single weak performance in this film. The four main stars; Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn and Ted Levine knock their performances out of the ballpark. Foster reminds us that her Oscar win for The Accused was no fluke. Her turn as Clarice Starling is the type of role that other actresses would kill for and Foster performs it as if she stepped right into Starling’s skin.
Scott Glenn is one of the most underrated actors in the cinema. He plays FBI agent Jack Crawford with a mixture of authority and fatherly concern for Agent Starling. He is as proud of her as if she were his own flesh and blood. As Jame ‘Buffalo Bill’ Gumb, Ted Levine plays the most bizarre of serial killers. His ability to hold his own in a film with Hopkins and Foster is a testament to his ability as an actor.
I find myself at a loss for words as I seek out what I want to say about Anthony Hopkins and his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. One particular scene that stands out in my mind is when Starling meets Lecter for the first time. Lecter is standing quietly in the middle of his cell like a tiger poised to strike. It is in that moment that Hopkins lets us know that Hannibal Lecter is a man of grace, intelligence and sophisticated evil. It is no wonder that the American Film Institute voted him the Number One screen villain of the past 100 years. Incidentally AFI voted Clarice Starling as the Number Six greatest screen hero.
The Silence of the Lambs is a haunting work of art truly deserving of each and every accolade that has been bestowed upon it in the past 20 years. I have watched it dozens of times and will watch it dozens more. That, my friends, is the true sign of a great movie.
Anthony Hopkins described his voice for Hannibal Lecter as, “a combination of Truman Capote and Katharine Hepburn.”