Hannibal Rising offers a new brand of trauma

Lecter's story an unflinching look at the making of a serial killer

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Young Hannibal Lecter

Hannibal Rising
Directed by: Peter Webber
Starring: Gaspard Ulliel, Rhys Ifans, Gong Li, Dominic West

4 stars

Before meeting Clarice, helping the FBI, and promoting the benefits of eating a human liver with fava beans and a nice Chianti, Hannibal Lecter was a young boy growing up in Lithuania.

Upon his sister’s death, Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel) makes her a promise which creates a Kill Bill-esque revenge story, complete with brilliantly devised murder techniques.

Hannibal Rising is an interesting amalgamation of past Hannibal Lecter films. While Rising is the most graphic and violent, it’s psychological intensity is similar to Silence of the Lambs'. Seeing Hannibal grow up strengthens his character and occasionally makes his crimes seem justified.

Hannibal Rising’s success is largely due to its ability to suspend normal moral judgment. While Hannibal’s thirst for revenge seems plausible, his enjoyment is incredibly unsettling. In terms of sheer brutality and methodical execution, the killing scenes parallel those in Seven.

The film’s liberal use of violence shows Hannibal’s growing connection between mutilation and the satisfaction of revenge. This near-erotic fetishization of violence is disgusting.

Ulliel is brilliant as Hannibal. Even with minimal dialogue, he evokes powerful reactions. His contemptuous sneer is chilling and his primal roar makes you question God’s existence. Ulliel brings an unexpected fragility to the character and reminds you Hannibal is still a human being.

Hannibal Rising has its faults. Hannibal’s repetitive ritual of “capture, torture, get answers and kill the guy anyway” becomes predictable and stagnant. Also, some key events in the book are omitted in the film, leaving several questions unanswered.

The final scene is also disappointing. After an intensely powerful climax, a poorly executed scene unfolds before the credits roll. Fortunately, incredible music during the credits saves the lacklustre scene.

The graphicly violent Hannibal Rising is certainly not for everybody, but fans of the Hannibal movies starring Anthony Hopkins will surely enjoy it.

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette