Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Man AFI Dreads The Most : Dr. Hannibal Lector

Movies are always and have always been about the characters - heroes, heroines, villains, sidekicks, etc. Here I would be discussing about one great villain – Dr. Hannibal Lector. The American Film Institute (AFI) considers him as one of the greatest villains of all times.

In AFI’s list of 100 Years …100 Heroes and Villains, Dr. Hannibal Lector stands first among the villains. This epic character was created by the author Thomas Harris in his series of novels. So far the character has been featured in five films viz. Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising.

Dr. Hannibal Lector is cannibalistic serial killer, who enjoys eating his victims. But the appearance, nature and behavior of this man does not go with his killer image. Hannibal is a calm, clever and a well behaved gentleman. Also he has been gifted an extraordinary brain. His expertise is forensic science.

The first to feature this character was the Manhunter in 1986, which featured Brian Cox as Dr. Hannibal Lector and William Peterson as Will Graham. The movie didn’t do well at the time of release although it is considered as a cult classic now. It was based on the book ‘Red Dragon’ by Thomas Harris.

The Silence of the lambs in 1991 turned a whole new chapter in this series. It was the first movie to feature Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lector.  Judie Foster played the iconic role of Clarice Starling, a FBI trainee in it who while looking out for a serial killer named Buffalo Bill played by Ted Levine, takes the help of Dr. Hannibal Lector, who is in jail. It’s the story of how Clarice catches the killer with Lector’s help (mostly advices and suggestions) and how Hannibal Lector escapes from prison and gets free. It was based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris.
Even though Anthony Hopkins played the role of Dr. Hannibal Lector for less than twenty minutes he could fetch the Academy Award for the Best Actor that year.

Hannibal released in 2002, was the third movie in the movie series and second movie to feature Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector. The films continues the plot of the silence of the lambs ten years later where now Clarice Starling (this time played by Julianne Moore), who is a successful as well as criticized FBI agent is contacted by Mason Verger, only surviving victim of Hannibal Lector. Mason was a wealthy child molester who was left horribly disfigured and paralyzed by Lector after having been assigned as Verger's court-appointed therapist. This was before Lector was caught and put in jail. It was based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris.

young Hannibal in Hannibal Rising
Red Dragon was a prequel to the earlier two movies, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. It dealt with Dr. Hannibal Lector when he was a free man and forensic expert helping FBI. Will Graham (Edward Norton) comes to know about his reality and catches him brilliantly. The movie later deals with Lector helping Graham catch another psychopathic serial killer nicknamed ‘Toothfairy’ played by Ralph Fiennes. The movie ends well with Hannibal Lector writing a letter to Graham in the end and the jailer informing Dr. Hannibal Lector informing Dr. Lector that a young girl from FBI is waiting to speak with him. This ends show that this would be the start of events of the earlier film The Silence of the Lambs.

Hannibal Rising released in 2007 is a prequel to all the movies in the series even to Red Dragon as it deals with young Hannibal. It starts in the closing days of World War II where eight year old Hannibal loses everything his big castle, the aristocratic family status and parents. It is not only the misery he suffers. But later some evil Lithuanian SS militiamen cannibalize his kid sister in order to save themselves from starving in front of Hannibal. This can be termed as the things which might have triggered him on such a path. The movie shows the young Hannibal eight years later as a boy and his journey of being a killer who comes back to revenge his sister by killing all the SS militiamen, who are now retired and have almost forgotten that incident.

Such is the saga of the great Hannibal Lector. You will love him, hate him, fear him and admire him. The greatest villain of all times he surely won’t be forgotten ever.


  1. we are thinking alike, i was telling my friend that i have to make a post on this and am shocked by seeing our wavelengths..
    But you have certainly written well and better than what i would have :)
    KUDOS....-- Dee

    1. Haha...
      Do i write it, I would love to read your version too. :) :)

  2. Anthony hopkins and Hannibal Lector, I know about it..The rest just show your love for movies, amazing info man!

  3. Definitely one of hollywood's dreaded characters!! nice post!

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Jayanth. :)

  4. Nice post:). Anthony hopkins as Hannibal lecter is probably the best villain ever:)

  5. Marvelous Blog! Well, what can I say? Mind-boggling thesis on Hannibal Lecter!!! He's one antagonist who fascinates more than he antagonizes as long as he is on the celluloid... God forbid any proximity to a caricature like him in the real life!!!

    Please do follow the link to checkout my review of The Silence of the Lambs:

    1. Thank you, Murtuza. You have one of the best movie blogs, I've seen. :)