BBC - Mark Kermode's film blog

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Closer, please. Clo-ser...

Having watched the original in the Thomas Harris Saga - 'Manhunter' with Brian Cox as Lector, I want to reminisce on the Trilogy and the origin story of the good doctor and my favourite film series of all time.

Lector has been played by Brian Cox (Manhunter 1986, Brian Cox) Sir Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs 1991, Hannibal 2000 and Red Dragon 2002) and Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal Rising)

In Michael Mann's Manhunter, Cox based his portrayal of "Hannibal Lecter" on Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel. It holds a very different feel to that of the famous trilogy, it feels more contemporary and edgy with Mann's unique style. I felt the stark whites of Lectors cell left it feeling too clinical and clean for Dr. Lector, having said that Cox was chilling.

'Best Picture of 1991' at The Oscars, 'The Silence of the Lambs' is Directed by Jonathan Demme (The Manchurian Candidate, Philadelphia) an sees Lector portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, a theatre actor, made famous on the Big Screen by David Lynch's 'The Elephant Man' a decade previously, plays his most iconic role, and one of my favourite actors of all time. Even though Hopkins' screen time in the entire film is just over 16 minutes he won an academy award and he was voted #1 on the American Film Institute's Villains list in its compilation of the 100 Years of The Greatest Screen Heroes and Villains. Here is a the screenplay (by Ted Tally from July 28th 1989) note: Dr. Hannibal Lecter is called "Dr. Gideon Quinn." for legal reasons.

You see a lot, Dr. Quinn. But are you
strong enough to point that high-powered
perception at yourself? How about it...?
Look at yourself and write down the truth.
(She slams the tray back at him)
Or maybe you're afraid to.

You're a tough one, aren't you?

Reasonably so. Yes.

And you'd hate to think you were common.
My, wouldn't that sting! Well you're far
from common, Officer Starling. All you
have is the fear of it.
Now please excuse me. Good day.

And the questionnaire...?

A census taker once tried to test me. I
ate his liver with some fava beans and
a nice chianti... Fly back to school,
little Starling.

He steps backwards, then returns to his cot, becoming as still
and remote as a statue. Frustrated, Clarice hesitates, then
finally shoulders her bag and goes, leaving the questionnaire
in his tray. But after just a few steps, as she passes -


she sees that creature at his bars again, hissing at her.

I b-bit my wrist so I c-can diiiieeee!
S-ee how it bleeeeeeeeds?

The dark figure suddenly flings his palm towards her, and -


is spattered on the face and neck - not with blood, but with
pale droplets of semen. She gives a little cry, touching her
fingers to the wetness. Stunned, near tears, she forces her-
self to straighten up and walk on, fumbling for a tissue. From
behind her, Dr. Quinn calls out, very agitated.

This famous scene has one element missing, and that's Hopkins infamous unnerving effect he has Jodie Foster when he mocked her character's West Virginia accent; the distorion of the word "chianti" and the vile slurping sound he makes after he describes eating the "census-taker." Hopkins also notes that Hannibal never blinked his eyes when he spoke. these are all improvisations made to highten this already brilliant screenplay.

In 2001, Julianne Moore, revives the role of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, in 'Hannibal'. Silence Of The Lambs director Jonathan Demme and original Starling Jodie Foster turning it down. There's no denying the high level of talent among those who are involved (Ridley Scott, Julianne Moore, writers David Mamet and Steven Zaillian and, of course, Anthony Hopkins). One of my all time favourite films is due to some of the most beautiful shots, by Ridley Scott, from Mason Verger’s estate: Biltmore House, North Carolina.

Pazzi is hanged – “Bowels in or bowels out?”: Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

1 comment:

  1. Awesome read! i shall check the later films out as never got round to seeing those.