Production Companies: Strong Heart / Demme Production
Distribution Company: Orion Pictures
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Crime, Drama
Series: It is followed by Hannibal (2001), Red Dragon (2002), and a Hannibal TV series. There is also a book sequel entitled Hannibal Rising.
Film Score: Howard Shore
Release Date: Feb 14, 1991 (USA) … premiere Jan 30. 1991 (NYC)
Running Time: 1h 58min
MSRP: DIGITAL RENT: $3.99 HD DIGITAL PURCHASE: $9.99 HD CRITERION COLLECTION TANGIBLE COPY [Special Edition] : DVD: $18.87 BLU-RAY $22.97 COLLECTOR’S EDITION 2 discs $7.37
Detective Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is an FBI apprentice working towards specializing in behavioral sciences. She is called in by her mentor chief executive, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) to observe and interview renowned cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter a former well-traveled psychologist, brilliant in intellect, who is currently institutionalized at the Baltimore Mental Institution. The FBI is currently on assignment to get the profiles of all serial killers. Jack was formerly investigating Dr. Lecter’s behavior. However, he became bored by multiple unsuccessful attempts through lack of cooperation, and went on to hunt down another serial killer, Buffalo Bill, who holds his victims hostage for three days before he kills and skins them.
When Detective Starling arrives at the asylum, she meets up with the head of operations, Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) who appears as a pompous, egotistical, controlling leech with a bloated sense of pride. He feels privileged in housing the notoriously high profile serial killer. It is such reverence for him, the director of the asylum, to gain his own accolades.
When he tries to join Starling in the meeting with Dr. Lecter, he is rejected by her and leaves in a heated huff. Starling is then greeted by the genuinely personable guard, Barney, who gives her a few pointers, hospitably sets a chair out for her so that she may be comfortable during the interview, directs her of safeguards and precautions, and then opens the gate.
The industrial asylum prison walkway is creepy as she is gawked by the strange off-kilter male sickos that reside behind bars. The insanity is heightened as the walk continues with moments of perversity. When she arrives at the end, she has reached Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s cell. Unlike the other unruly inmates with beastly mentalities, Dr. Lecter is well spoken, personable, intense, and extremely well educated.
During the first few minutes of their meeting, the daunting psychological serial killer and vulnerable yet determined detective establish trust, respect, and begin a mutual friendship. At some points of the conversation, when challenged, Dr. Lecter takes on different personalities, one being a masochistic misogynist with a Texas cowboy accent, and the other a frenzied hellbent madman with a violently aggressive streak. He weaves in and out of the well mannered worldly gentleman character and then phase-shifts to another personality. He is known as a monster and at times appears not quite human but more superhuman in a sense. He knows the French perfume brand Clarice Starling wears however, he also knows that she did not wear it that day. He knows the brand of her hand lotion through his heightened wolf-like olfactory senses. He’s aware that she carries an expensive handbag of quality and that her matching shoes are cheaply made. He reads into her at a deep penetrating soul level, which upon exiting the facility, leaves her shattered. He does however leave her with a few clues to solve which escalates the Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) case to the next level….
Then later, after a U.S. Senator’s daughter is also captured by Buffalo Bill, the case goes viral. As Buffalo Bill now lands at the top of the “Most Wanted” list, Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s knowledge becomes more and more sought after. With bargaining deals of a beautiful view with trees and perhaps a waterway, he recalls new clues into the case. With his photographic mind that can reproduce very detailed charcoal drawings from memory alone, he uses his fine tuned skills to clue in on the next set of details that may help in cracking the Buffalo Bill serial murder case.
The production team of this film thoroughly researched their homework to make this film. They brought in five notorious serial killers including Ted Bundy and Ed Gein to make up the personality of Buffalo Bill alone. The stench filled unkempt home of Buffalo Bill in the movie resembles the real home of Ed Gein. The injured helpless act that Ted Bundy put on in real life weaves into the clever victim lure scene. Actor Scott Glenn who played Jack Crawford, was modeled after John E Douglas, an actual United States FBI agent. Scott revealed that he was given real audio footage by the FBI agent for use in developing his character. The tape was an actual audio recording made by real serial killers Lawrence Bitterer and Roy Norris as they rape and torture a 19 year old girl in Los Angeles. These tapes haunted him so badly that he turned down the later role in Hannibal, however they lingered in his mind during the filming of his role. It also changed his mind, he claims, on his liberal views of the death penalty. The character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter was inspired by a real life doctor in Mexico named Dr. Alfredo Balli Trevino. Dr.Trevino was found guilty of murdering and dismembering his lover and suspected of killing several hitchhikers. They split his character between Dr. Lecter and Buffalo Bill, giving the sophisticated upper crust part of him to Dr. Lecter’s character and leaving his sexual nature assigned to Buffalo Bill. In Evil Serial Killers, writer and researcher Charlotte Greig adds that Albert Fish known as The Boogeyman (who was actually executed by electric chair in Sing Sing Correctional Facility), was added into Dr. Lecter’s character along with Andrei Chikatilo, know as Soviet serial killer “The Red Ripper”. Dr. Lecter’s character also is noted (in Hannibal) to be inspired by “The Monster of Florence”. Actor Anthony Hopkins plays Dr. Lecter’s role remarkably well with the charismatic intensity and psychological savvy which landed him a highly acclaimed Academy Award. This Academy Award was one of the five that the movie landed altogether. The incredibly phenomenal chemistry between Detective Starling and Dr. Lecter adds fuel to the fire. Buffalo Bill is one helluva whack job full of sick suspense and entertainment as he sews together lavish costumes made from his victims own flesh. He holds his plus sized women hostage in a dried out well, letting them grow thin so that the flesh loosens up a bit for murder and easy skinning. This movie is a monstrous masterminded masterpiece.
Presentation: 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Audience Fit: 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Final Score (not an average): 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)