Fresh Liver and a Nice Aged Chianti

By The Elm - Apr 24,2014@4:06 pm

By Emma Buchman 
Opinion Editor 

Photos courtesy of Google Images

Photos courtesy of Google Images

The 2010s seem to be the decade of revamps.  So many of the classical movies, books, and TV shows we love are being reimagined to fit our time, and their stories are woven anew.  It is natural for us to be skeptical of these updated classics because we do not want them to destroy the integrity of the original.  This was especially relevant to me when they announced the release of a new TV show based off of one of my favorite movie/book series, “The Silence of the Lambs.”  NBC came out with the show “Hannibal” in 2013, and while at first I was annoyed with the prospect, I can safely say that the lambs have stopped screaming.

The history of “The Silence of the Lambs” is very complicated, but here is the basic run down. The series started with a series of books by author Thomas Harris.  The first in the series was “Red Dragon” published in 1981.  “The Silence of the Lambs” followed it in 1988, and was made into the well-known movie in 1991.  The new show “Hannibal” mainly involves the characters from “Red Dragon,” including Special Agent Jack Crawford, SA Will Graham (though in the show he is a consultant), and of course, the one and only Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

After being an avid “Silence of the Lambs” fan for several years, I was less than enthused with the announcement of the show. The original movie series is iconic for a reason: the acting is spectacular, the story phenomenal.  I can watch it over and over, and never be bored.

Mads Mikkelson portrays Hannibal Lecter in NBC's "Hannibal."  He is gazing fondly at his predecessor from The Silence of the Lambs," Anthony Hopkins, featured above.

Mads Mikkelson portrays Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s “Hannibal.” He is gazing fondly at his predecessor from The Silence of the Lambs,” Anthony Hopkins, featured above.

The plot of the series does not follow any of the original stories, but rather incorporates themes, characters and dialogue into each episode.  While we could compare the show with the movies side-by-side to see if the show keeps up with the movies’ standards, it would be a moot point. Each of them is well-written with a thrilling and gruesome storyline. What will make or break the show is how well they portray what we all came to see: Hannibal Lecter and his skillful, yet hidden, opponent.

The most important element of these stories is the dynamic between Hannibal Lecter and the protagonist. Both Will Graham and Clarice Starling are strong and brilliant people with an uncompromising moral compass (bring the novel “Hannibal” into this discussion and you will end up like Dr. Chilton).  Each actor and actress who works opposite Lecter does a spectacular job.  Jodie Foster made Starling a standard in character development, and both Edward Norton and Hugh Dancy play Graham to the best of their abilities, while also working with the demands that the different plots require. However, I will tip my hat slightly more to Dancy, as he is challenged much more physically and mentally in “Hannibal” and works with a plot that is extremely emotionally draining.

But now we’ll come to the main course: Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  Lecter is terrifying, in mind, in action, and in spirit. He exudes this unwavering air of power and intellectual authority, and presents us with the delicious paradox of class and social savvy with bloody-thirsty and savage behavior.  He is a truly unique character and very difficult to portray accurately.  That is why Anthony Hopkins is revered for his portrayal of Lecter in three movies, and the reason why his performance has been a standard in movie making for over 20 years.

That is partly why it was so difficult to accept a new Hannibal into my life.  Who could possibly compete with Hopkins’ performance?  Who could be as suave and intelligent, and also… well, a cannibalistic sociopath?

It seems they found an acting God-send in Mads Mikkelsen, the show’s resident “psychiatrist.” He possesses that same weird and awesome aura that Hopkins gave in the movies, and brings his own subtle but welcomed style to the character.  Plus, he can be terrifying whenever it so pleases him.

Both the movies and the show explore the deepest corners of our minds; ones that we know exist but choose to ignore, and ones that we did not even know that we had. While “The Silence of the Lambs” will always have a special place in my heart, I embrace the new show for all that it is worth (which is a lot, I will say).  I encourage everyone to at least try a reimagining of their favorite classics, for we can always embrace the new while forever cherishing the old.


The Elm

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