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HANNIBAL

Ten years after escaping custody, the cannibalistic Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) has reportedly resurfaced in Florence. Revenge-driven Mason Verger, a pedophile millionaire left hideously disfigured by Lecter, has offered a reward for his capture. The key to finding Lecter is FBI agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) who successfully enlisted Lecter's help in locating a serial killer prior to his escape. Conspiring to have Starling suspended from duty, Verger succeeds in drawing Lecter into the open and re-igniting Lecter’s bizarre fascination for Agent Starling.

"You can tell a film is getting to the audience when the groans and grunts and fainting sounds, intermingled with hysterical giggles and gobsmacked guffaws are all in sync. Hannibal, highly anti……..cipated, is a choking good film, and to answer the burning question, yes, Julianne Moore manages the osmosis to Clarice Starling seamlessly. (Unless you’re a die-hard Jodie Foster addict.) Ridley Scott, quietly spoken gentle Englishman with a penchant for spectacle, is a filmmaker who has always dared. (He was daring with Alien, Blade Runner, Black Rain, Thelma & Louise, 1492, Gladiator . . . ) He dares again with Hannibal, taking Thomas Harris’ novel and minimising it for the big screen, but cracking open the vault of dangerous goods with the penultimate sequence in which unspeakable things are served at dinner by Dr Lecter. True to the novel (and true to the genre of cannibal-driven thrillers for mainstream audiences), Scott does what he must do: he lets us see it all. There’s no cop-out cut away, no pandering to weak-willied studio bosses who faint at the sight of risk. It’s full on Hannibal. If he didn’t, we’d be rightly indignant. After all, those who have read the book had at least as fruity time in their imaginations with that scene. The only little quibbles I have about Ridley’s direction are two questionable edits in that sequence, but I won’t bore you with that (as it would give away too much). That aside, the film is gripping and entertaining, and you must listen a bit to the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer and Scott - they worked the Gladiator track together, with much help from Lisa Gerrard – clearly liked what vocalisation can do for a mood that requires a sense of grand dread. Here, sans Gerrard but full of passion for her work, they have [or should I say Zimmer has] toiled to great effect with that device. Acting? Superb. A strong flavoured cinematic meal, recommended for all but the elderly, the ill, the sweaty and the neurotic."
Andrew L. Urban

"There's a profoundly chilling sense of smell about the film – in fact there's also a distinctive taste…. Hannibal creeps deep into the senses, impacting by its moodiness and dark, disturbing themes. Ridley Scott's superb direction coupled with Hans Zimmer's intense soundtrack deliver a mesmerising cinematic experience that allows our greatest tool – the imagination - to work effectively. The opening distorted images reflect the ugliness of a twisted world, a world filled with long shadows and uncertainty. David Mamet and Steven Zaillian's brilliant script only too well bring Thomas Harris' characters to life, constructing the skeleton of the jigsaw puzzle that needs to be conceived. Simultaneously fascinating and repulsive, it's a compelling journey of complexity; one abyss delves into another until we are swallowed up in the mire. With its shocking themes and contrasting worlds, Hannibal delivers on every count. Julianne Moore assumes Clarice Starling's persona with authority: Moore portrays the perfect balance of tough yet vulnerable. Anthony Hopkins slips into the inhuman skin of Dr Hannibal Lecter with such ease, it's hard to believe it's been 10 years since his Oscar winning role. Magnificently utilising the reserve reserved for the English, Hopkins is terrifying. One minute urbane, erudite and refined, Lecter unleashes his dark side with the understatement and panache of the debauched. Mason Verger (unrecognisable - wait till the end credits!) is truly a character worthy of sharing Lecter's screen time – Verger is perversity at its absolute. The dark production design weaves its dank spell, contrasting Florence's splendid beauty. The juxtaposition of good and evil, beauty and ugliness, light and dark are used to great effect throughout, reflected also in the music. The most beautiful musical sounds (classical notations and celestial vocalisations) are used to maximum effect at the most disturbing times. It's edgy, gripping and devastating. Hannibal is one hell of a hot ticket."
Louise Keller

"Hannibal Lecter can still bare his teeth and smack his lips like no other screen villain in a worthy if not outstanding sequel. Simply by showing up Anthony Hopkins has our full attention every moment he's on screen even if what he does isn't as terrifying or compelling as it was in The Silence Of The Lambs. Hannibal arrives with heavyweight pedigree in the form of director Ridley Scott, screenwriters David Mamet and Steve Zaillian, producers Dino and Martha De Laurentiis and Julianne Moore who proves herself the perfect choice to fill Jodie Foster's FBI shoes. In adapting Thomas Harris' novel Mamet and Zaillian's script is at its best where it counts most - capturing the bizarre symbiotic relationship of Lecter and his fantasy wife/ daughter/ captor/ main course. Still vulnerable to Lecter's torments about her white trash past, she always calls him 'Dr Lecter' while he appreciates her good manners. Theirs is one of the most riveting of all villain-pursuer relationships and remains so here, even if to a somewhat lesser degree than first time around. In other areas Hannibal is less successful. The Florence locale seems to have inspired an occasionally florid, operatic approach to the material that works well initially but seems overdone once Hannibal returns to his customary ways. Sub-plots involving sleazy National security advisor Ray Liotta and ambitious Florentine detective Giancarlo Giannini are rather dreary and drag the action down to the level of conventional police procedural. On the upside there's wild card Mason Verger - (try NOT to find out beforehand who plays him under all that latex!) - a wonderfully decrepit creation who rivals Lecter as the film's most memorable character. Scott also serves up (pun intended) some delightfully grisly scenes guaranteed to have entire audiences wincing and knows how to get the most from the delicious gallows humour elegantly delivered by Hopkins. Any sequel to The Silence Of The Lambs could hardly expect to draw level with or eclipse its predecessor. The class and polish of Ridley Scott's film gets close enough to make another trip to Dr Lecter's kitchen worthwhile."
Richard Kuipers

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HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Jenny Cooney Carrillo's INTERVIEW with Anthony Hopkins

Andrew L. Urban canvasses the ISSUES

TRAILER

HANNIBAL (R)*
(US)

* Rated MA, changed to R on appeal on 22/2/2001

CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Giancarlo Giannini, Francesca Neri

PRODUCERS: Dino De Laurentiis, Martha Schumacher (as Martha De Laurentiis)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

SCRIPT: David Mamet, Steven Zaillian (Thomas Harris novel)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Mathieson

EDITOR: Pietro Scalia

MUSIC: Hans Zimmer, Klaus Badelt (additional music)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Norris Spencer

RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 15, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

VIDEO SELLTHROUGH RELEASE: August 1, 2001

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