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|
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.