The number of I-hate-you-then-I-love-you moments I have had during watching NBC's Hannibal since it started in 2013 until it sadly (for us viewers) ended last Saturday is too great to count. However, the disappointment I am feeling right now because I will see no more of Hannibal is a success in and of itself. At first I did not know how to go about this review in the most logical way possible (it is really hard to convince my mind to do so!) so I came up with the 'ingenious' idea of putting my remarks into points as randomly as they jump to my head:
-Bryan Fuller is brilliant, there is no doubt. His decisions to carry Thomas Harris's novels to the surreal and metaphysical realm and to focus on the complicated/mind-twisting/homoerotic relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham are very bold. Nonetheless, Fuller delved so deep into surreality it sometimes cost the show its sense of realness. Do not get me wrong, I am and always be pro adaptation of all sorts and kinds, but Harris's Hannibal saga is basically a unique study of the human psyche and its psychological dimensions – something you cannot tackle without having at least one foot in reality. What makes Hannibal Lecter a truly frightening character is that he feels very real and if you drop that, all you have is a mythical character no different than Sisyphus or Medusa. This is my only problem with the show. The result was unmistakable pretentiousness in storyline and dialogue, especially in season 1. It is smart, I admit, but in which universe would a dialogue like that take place? It feels pompous and forced. Same can be said about some turns of events; each of the series primary characters has been stabbed, burned, or shot at least three times over the course of the show, yet they miraculously managed to come back to life! As a result I lost my sense of surprise. By the time I reached season 3, I was like "Oh, X lost his head. No problem, he'll somehow find his way back to the show." In Egyptian Arabic there is a saying that describes inexplicable events in films and it goes "el mokhreg ayez keda" which roughly translates to "because the director wants it so!" Fuller definitely wants it so.
-If you get over the above mentioned problem you will find the show utterly phenomenal. The dynamics between Hannibal and Will especially in seasons 2 and 3 are captivating and make up for the sometimes awkward dialogue. In the last two seasons events move faster and become more focused on the Hannibal-Will relationship which gets compellingly more rounded. It is by far the most twisted and gripping romance of the 21st century. Season 3 is remarkable too with the introduction of the Red Dragon which pumps new blood in the aesthetics-invested season.
-Want to know more about the aesthetics of voyeurism? Watch Hannibal. The imagery picks on the surreal side of the story and turns it into a feast for the eyes indeed. I will never forget the sinister Wendigo, the dying stag, and the wings of the Red Dragon. In spite of the gory nature of some scenes, the literally breathtaking cinematography transforms them into surreal sensuous/sensual paintings that you would want to see again and again. That effect is greatly aided by the artistic editing and the choice of music – end result is transcendental. The murder scene in season 3 finale "The Wrath of the Lamb" is an example. Imagine with me this stomach- churning scene: two men covered in blood trying to kill another man by stabbing, slashing and biting him. Naturally, nothing pleasant or aesthetic can come out of it; however, it turns out to be the most beautiful thing I have seen in a very long time. Surreal. Horrifying. Mesmerizing. Heart- wrenching. Also, Siouxsie Sioux' song "Love Crime" makes it hit deeper in the heart.
-Everyone on the show did a brilliant job, even though Hugh Dancy (Will Graham) was overdoing it sometimes, but once you get used to his performance you can sit back and enjoy the chemistry between him and Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter) play out. Richard Armitage was one hell of a pleasant surprise.The only person that was unbearably annoying is Gillian Anderson playing Bedilia Du Maurier. As a character, I couldn't wrap my head around her motives and development – I think Fuller put her there only to serve as a receiver of Hannibal's and Will's mind contents. As an actor, her poker face and slow articulation made me want to slit my wrists every time she was on screen.
-Saving the best for last, let's talk some Mads Mikkelsen. I will try my best to put his overwhelming sex appeal and my apparent subjectivity aside.. but heck with objectivity! Objectivity is a delusion, so just let me take a deep breath and start rambling about this Danish talent. Anthony Hopkins' name is forever linked to Hannibal Lecter because of his legendary performance in the cinematic adaptation with no prospects of anyone even coming close. Mikkelsen did it. I am not saying he is better than Hopkins, all I am saying is he was smart enough to decide to play a different tune and show us a new side of Hannibal.. the charmer, the mind player, and the vulnerable as well. Thanks to Bryan Fuller and Mikkelsen, Hannibal Lecter's character becomes alive again with so much vigor and articulate details missing in previous adaptations. His clothes, his movements, his choice of words, his highly controlled facial expressions – everything he does unpretentiously and effortlessly oozes menace.If this show was a living being, Mikkelsen would definitely be the heart of it.
Seriously, who would have thought that watching a cannibal kill people and cook them for meals would be that yummy?
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