Review: Hannibal - Season 1/ Cert: 18 / Director: Various / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, / Release Date: September 2nd
As there seem to be no further Hannibal Lecter books forthcoming on which to base more films, it was perhaps inevitable that the character would make his way to TV. There is a strange, hitherto unexplored grey area that we hear about at the start of Red Dragon where Hannibal Lecter – then a respected psychiatrist – was helping FBI profiler Will Graham with a number of cases. This is the area that showrunner Bryan Fuller has decided to focus on and the result is almost completely unexpected in terms of style and format.
Will Graham, as played by Hugh Dancy, is a borderline catatonic mess of a person. His talent for empathising with serial killers and getting into their heads is shown to be a form of psychosis which renders him almost insane. The FBI brings him on board to investigate a series of murders where the victims are impaled on deer horns and as a precaution they have him seeing Hannibal Lecter (Mikkelsen). This interpretation of the Lecter character is initially jarring but completely unlike any portrayal thus far. Mikkelsen is a tremendous actor with tons of presence and he plays Lecter as cold, detached and almost alien as he observes the world and those around him. From the start, though, the series makes no bones about the fact that Lecter is up to no good; he has been killing and consuming folk for a long time, and when he meets Graham he sees it as a chance to manipulate law enforcement as well as an opportunity to make a connection with a kindred spirit. The counterweight between these two characters is Laurence Fishburne (finally given a good role after years of misuse) as Graham’s boss Jack Crawford. Fishburne brings humanity, gravitas and is a solid rock grounding the show on amongst all the darkness.
Speaking of darkness, Hannibal is perhaps the darkest and most violent show ever made for network TV. Instead of focusing on the procedural and forensic aspects, we hone in on Graham and Lecter’s relationship and the dark paths that Graham wanders down. The show never spares you any of the grisly details of any of the murders that the FBI investigate and the full details of Lecter’s fondness for culinary ‘experimentation’ are shown in stomach-churning detail.
Hannibal is so far from the Dexter clone that we were expecting that it should run for a few solid years. The final four episodes are remarkably tense with some great guest slots from Gillian Anderson and Eddie Izzard. The show promises to get more interesting and even darker (if that’s possible) next season and we cannot wait.
Extras: Eat the Rude / First Look / Forensics 101