I’m not sure what it says about me that among the nearly ninety Best Picture films, this is one of the few that I’ve watched before starting this project. It probably wouldn’t be a proper explanation to say that I probably did so because I was, at the time, a big fan of Monk, and (stay with me for this) consequently had a habit of tracking down other roles played by the primary actors of shows I enjoyed. Let me tell you, Ted Levine’s Buffalo Bill is extremely different from Captain Stottlemeyer.
As long as you can excuse the glaringly obvious flaw in this movie’s plot that a Nancy Drew-esque academy student would be assigned to work closely with an exceptionally dangerous serial killer to capture another serial killer (what is it with serial killers being the only ones who can capture other serial killers, anyway? Is there like some special club where they all know each other because they all subscribe to the serial killer newsletter?), it’s an enjoyable film. Anthony Hopkins is legitimately frightening as a mastermind murderer, and I am happy to report that he reminds me not at all of any psychiatrists I know.
One of the things that puzzles/troubles me is the portrayal of Buffalo Bill as this repressed transsexual desperately seeking transformation. Like, okay, I imagine that would be a difficult thing to go through, but not necessarily one that drives you to murder women and turn their skin into a majestic cloak and drape your bed in swastika duvets (where, indeed, does one purchase a swastika duvet? Not that I’m shopping for one, mind you, I just wonder what the market for such a thing is.)
Before I’d seen this movie, I discovered the song “Goodbye Horses” (and since this seems to be the post for awkward personal admissions, I will confess that it was someone’s featured song on MySpace, if you can remember that being a thing). I listened to it a lot on my first behemoth of an MP3 player, jam-packed with a vast and curious array of music and Harry Potter audiobooks that I played on shuffle. It’s still a fantastic song.
I’ve gone this whole post and barely even mentioned the true star of the show. It’s weird how a character so creepily, unfathomably villainous as Hannibal Lector has developed a weird sort of following. He’s even got a TV show now, and I don’t really know the plot of it, except that I guess it’s similar to Dexter (of which I also know very little). The final scene, where Hannibal openly plots to murder the head of his prison facility (who, okay, was kind of a douche, but if we murdered all the people who were kind-of douches in our lives, there wouldn’t be much of anyone left), is almost triumphant.
When did we grow so warped that we admire characters in fiction that in reality would horrify us? Is it some sort of defense mechanism that helps us process the disturbing things about the world without ending up in a quivering mess of hopeless fear?
The true hero here is Clarice, a woman who succeeds in a career dominated by men, and who was initially granted access to this terrible case solely because she was to Lector’s taste – as bait. Instead of a show called Hannibal, I would much prefer to watch Clarice.
Theme: Mental Health
First Time Watching? No, actually
Final Verdict: Nice, with a glass of Chianti