Review of NBC's Hannibal
Who is your favorite character from the Hannibal t.v. series?
Hannibal is a revamping of the Hannibal Lecter series written by Thomas Harris. The first film based on the Hannibal Lecter series, The Silence of the Lambs, won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in 1991. In that version Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter, and won Best Actor for his performance.
It's always hard to replace an excellent actor like Anthony Hopkins. It would be like finding a replacement for Heath Ledger as the Joker. But in this case, their choice for the new Hannibal Lecter is why I started watching the series at all.
Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen plays Hannibal in the t.v. series, even though at first Mikkelsen himself was reluctant to play a role that had already been done to perfection. I first saw Mads Mikkelsen in a little known Danish movie about Vikings called Valhalla Rising which I really enjoyed. Others may recognize him for his role as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale and cinema buffs may recognize him from the Pusher series by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn.
Mikkelsen is accompanied by Hugh Dancy, who plays the main protagonist of the series, psychology professor/special agent for the F.B.I. Will Graham. Caroline Dhavernas plays Dr. Alana Bloom. Although this is a different storyline from a different era in Hannibal's life, neither seem to match up to Jodie Foster's or Julianne Moore's Clarice Starling.
For those familiar with the original Hannibal works, the tentative relationship between Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter is one of the things that makes the books and movies so interesting. This dynamic is somewhat echoed in the Hannibal t.v. series with the relationships Hannibal has with the teenage daughter of a serial killer, Abigail Hobbes, played by Kacey Rohl, and with his own psychiatrist, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, played by Gillian Anderson.
Rounding out the cast, Laurence Fishburne plays Jack Crawford, the stern, dogged head of the Behavioral Sciences Unit of the F.B.I. and Lara Jean Chorostecki plays a tabloid journalist named Freddie Lounds whose snooping tampers with the investigations.
Hannibal seems more like an HBO series with a solid intriguing storyline and graphic violence that it's hard to believe they can show on NBC. It only lacks the ubiquitous sex scenes of an HBO series, which I'm grateful for because I don't find the stifled romance between Alana and Will all that interesting.
Hannibal is engaging not because of the romantic undertones but because you have to figure things out along with the characters. It's kind of like House or Lie to Me except the continuing plot seems to be mapped out better.
Watch a promo for Hannibal:
Is Hannibal a Psychopath?
Hannibal's salient characteristic appears to be his curiosity. He harbor's no reverence for taboos. He does things just to see how people will react.
However, he does exhibit several traits of psychopaths: a calm demeanor, superficial charm, ruthlessness, fearlessness, and untruthfulness. In addition he mimics the people around him which psychopaths do because they have no emotional life of their own. He also has the psychopathic belief that he will never be caught.
Hannibal's former profession is one that attracts a lot of psychopaths: surgeon. Chefs are also on the list of professions that attract the most psychopaths. Although he doesn't work as a professional chef, Hannibal certainly has a lot of culinary expertise.
However, in interviews about his character, Mikkelsen says he doesn't believe Hannibal is a psychopath. Instead he thinks he is a fallen angel, Satan himself. He also doesn't believe something terrible happened in his childhood because that would be too obvious. (The childhood trauma explanation was explored in the film Hannibal Rising).
It's not yet clear if they're going to explore Hannibal's past in the t.v series and if they're going to deviate from what was already established. I'm also not exactly clear on what time period the t.v. show is supposedly set in. It kind of appears that they've moved Hannibal's lifespan forward a bit, because originally he would have been a child during WWII.
What do you think would have happened to Abigail Hobbes if she had made it to Season 2?
Thoughts on the Season Finale
There are things I did and didn't like about the season finale. I wanted Hannibal to be caught doing something instead of Will linking Hannibal to the copycat killer in his own mind. However I did like the scene where we see Hannibal visiting Will who Hannibal has essentially framed in a jail cell, which echoes the beginning of the film The Silence of the Lambs.
I was also disappointed that Abigail isn't going to be developed any further. It's ambiguous whether Dr. Maurier will make it to Season 2. I hope she does. If she doesn't, I'm a little uncertain what's going to make Season 2 interesting at this point. Hopefully the majority won't be set in a court room with Will being tried for murder.
My Favorite Hannibal Quotes
- "Psychological trauma is an affliction of the powerless." - Hannibal
- "Is it mental illness or does his mind work so differently from others that we don't know what else to call it?" - Jack Crawford about Will Graham
- "I have conversations with a version of you, and hope that the actual you gets what he needs... Naturally, I respect its meticulous construction, but you are wearing a very well-tailored person-suit." - Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier speaking to Hannibal
If you have a strong stomach and aren't creeped out too easily, I would strongly recommend checking out Hannibal. It's also a good series for anyone with an interest in psychology or mysteries. Newcomers to the series should also definitely check out the original books and movies, especially The Silence of the Lambs.
For reference, here's a sequential outline of the original books and movies according to the narrative, not the release date:
Hannibal Rising (2006)
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Red Dragon (1983)
Manhunter (1986) & Red Dragon (2002)
The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)