HANNIBAL: SPECIAL EDITION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Frankie R. Faison, Giancarlo
Giannini, Francesca Neri
Director: Ridley Scott
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 131 Minutes
Release Date: August 21, 2001
me, Clarice, would you ever say to me, ‘Stop…if you loved me, you would stop’?”
“Not in a thousand years.”
“That’s my girl.”
you get down to it, there really is no following The Silence of the Lambs…maybe
as a book, but never as a film. The
original squirmed its way down into our subconscious minds the way very few
movies even had the courage to attempt. It
was spearheaded by two brilliant, Oscar winning performances, Oscar winning
direction, and a chilling Oscar winning screenplay.
Each of these elements so perfectly served the others that it was like an
impeccable house of cards…one misplacement could have spoiled it all.
But it was surefooted, confident, and relentless.
It did not misstep.
fans clamored for a sequel because they loved the characters of Clarice Starling
and Hannibal Lecter, even though we probably all realized in our hearts that it
could never replicate the experience of seeing Silence for the first
time. When author Thomas Harris
penned Hannibal, a return to the screen seemed extremely likely,
especially when word got out that the inimitable Anthony Hopkins was eager to
once again sink his teeth (pun intended) into the role he made famous.
the ground was shaky from the start. Jodie
Foster declined a large salary to reprise her role as Clarice, publicly stating
that she didn’t approve of how the character was handled in the sequel.
Director Jonathan Demme, whose confrontational style of cinema made Silence
strip down the so-called “fourth wall” to unnerve us further, also
passed on the opportunity to return.
Hannibal was to be made, it would have to come about with a new leading
lady and a new director. The part
of Clarice went to the amazing Julianne Moore, who proved herself more than
capable of stepping into the shoes of a firmly established character. It took less than a minute of screen time for audiences to
accept that Moore was Starling, and go on from there.
For a director, the studio was lucky and smart to acquire Ridley Scott,
fresh off his work on what would become the Best Picture Oscar winner, Gladiator.
the irreplaceable component was Anthony Hopkins. Though Hannibal Lecter had been played by another actor,
Bryan Cox, in a previous film, the mad psychiatrist could never be portrayed by
anyone else after Hopkins. His
stylistic mix of quiet, edgy madness, charm, manners, and undeniable intellect
made Hannibal into a screen presence audiences loved and feared in equal
measures. They recoiled from him,
yet they always wanted more of him.
story as it does in reality, a decade after the events in Silence.
Lecter is still at large, but has lived a quiet life out of the
spotlight for ten years…so much so, that he was even dropped from the FBI’s
Ten Most Wanted list. Starling has
become a respected agent, but the public black eyes given to the Bureau in
recent years have affected even her, as she finds herself wrongfully blamed for
a sting operation that goes terribly awry.
her career in jeopardy, but with her usual defiance and pluck firmly intact, she
accepts suspension, but at the same time, becomes aware of the possible
re-emergence of her old nemesis. One
of Lecter’s victims, Mason Verger (the only one who lived to tell the tale),
has gotten in touch with the doctor’s old caretaker, Barney (Faison).
There is a large reward on Lecter’s head, naturally, but Verger is only
out for personal revenge (for a past encounter almost too gruesome to
describe…you’ll have to see it for yourself).
had been living a quiet, anonymous life in Italy, but the presence of reward
seekers on his trail brings him out of his retirement.
He and Clarice will meet again…and this time, without the protective
glass in between.
film works on a certain level, but fails at the same time because it doesn’t
reach beyond that level. Scott’s
approach to the material is more literal and less cerebral.
Silence could spook us just with the idea of what Lecter did to a
nurse while in custody; Scott’s only means of competing is to show that
moment as footage from an old surveillance camera.
It doesn’t scare; it merely startles, and the point is, of course, that
we never needed to see it at all.
original film played on our deepest fears long and torturously before ever
shedding blood for us. Hannibal rarely
exists any higher than shock value. There
are effectively gruesome scenes, to be sure, but it’s all appetizer and no
main course. We leave the picture
still feeling hungry. That being
said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess that the climax didn’t disturb me
more deeply than just about any other horror film I can recollect.
It had chutzpah, panache, and impact…it’s just too bad that what came
before it wasn’t more worthy.
Hannibal falls short as a sequel, does it at least succeed as a film in
its own right? Possibly.
If you can shake the cultural infusion Silence has been for the
last decade, you have in Hannibal a stylish thriller with a great look,
terrific characters, and a sense of fearlessness in its approach to repulsive
subject matter. The problem is,
very few of us have lived in enough of a vacuum to be able to appreciate it
without comparing it to its far-better predecessor.
is no wash,
but neither does it completely satisfy. The
reversion from psychological horror to a more literal one isn’t worthy of the
Lecter legacy. He was far too great
a villain to be reduced to a mere quip-quoting slasher.
look of Hannibal is almost a character in and of itself, and MGM’s
anamorphic transfer has captured it flawlessly. From the brightly lit exteriors to the coarser, more extreme
colors and shadings of various interiors, this DVD renders all images with
cleanness and integrity…no undue grain, shimmer, bleeding or softness mar the
look of the film. Detail is very
good throughout. Even scenes that
are purposely manipulated for an unnatural look are presented with clarity and
faithfulness to the vision. High
5.1 soundtrack (DD or DTS) is quite good, with plenty of musical cues, ambient
effects and action for the surrounds. Crossovers
are smooth in all directions, with good balance and strong dynamic range.
The .1 signal carries some of the lower, more potent musical moments with
clarity and integrity. All in all,
a very good listen.
galore! For starters, there are
over 35 minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, with or without Scott’s
running commentary, including the now-famous unused ending (three endings were
considered, he explains, but only two were filmed). Scott also provides a full commentary for the film
itself…his speaking style is a little reserved at times, with occasional
pauses, but overall, his track is enlightening and informative.
There are 5 featurettes that include rare footage and interview, three
multi-angle extras (one on storyboards, one on the breakdown of the film’s
first action sequence, one on the opening titles), plus an ad gallery with
photos, posters, trailers and TV spots. An
excellent features package!