Whilst it’s odd sometimes to comprehend, people have always been incredibly interested in the strange and unusual in the world. It’s our natural human curiosity at play. We follow the stories of mass murderers and cult leaders like they’re the latest soap dramas. Be it Ed Gein, Charles Manson, or Aileen Wuornos, these serial killers sparked such an interest in the public sphere that documentaries and films were produced about their horrific killings and trials. Hollywood tends to get many of their ideas from that of real life and what a more grabbing tale than that of a killer. A most notable example of this is Ed Gein’s echoed presence in cinema. Gein would dig up the corpses of women as well as murdering some, fashioning trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. It was believed that he was trying to make a skin suit, like that seen in the cult film The Silence of the Lambs as executed by Buffalo Bill. He’s also the inspiration for such legendary tales as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, including the currently popular American Horror Story television series.
Thanks to the remarkable acting of Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter has become a household name. When one hears the name Hannibal, they immediately think of the fictional flesh eater. The story not only caused us to feel uneasy, but also very curious of how a human’s mind works. Whilst the film is fictional and of course, many things exaggerated, the viewers did not see much gore until near the end of the film. The first uncomfortable scene would be that of inspecting the dead girl’s body from the lake. Second would be the various scenes caused by Hannibal’s actions; the nose biting, the skin mask and the scene where Hannibal hung a police officer he had killed with his organs hanging out. The Silence of the Lambs remains to be the only horror film to have won the Best Film Oscar to this this day, with the cast winning Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Director. The film was made with extreme attention to detail, such as the clothing used and the camera angle techniques and to this day, it is still a very highly regarded film.
From this film depiction, again, inspiration was sparked. There was a sequel as well as a prequel made due to the success of the original film. Most recently, a television show was created following the life of Hannibal prior to his incarceration, and his friendship with FBI special investigator Will Graham. Throughout the first series, we are teased with Hannibal’s kills that become his feasts. Within the show, how Hannibal is portrayed nothing like to how Hopkins created the personality for him. Mads Mikkelsen mannerisms are different to that of Hopkins. Both ‘Hannibals’ are clearly well educated and polite men, yet Hopkins had stiffness to his character that Mikkelsen doesn’t. Instead, on the television show we are being shown the Hannibal before being locked away, a slightly softer yet just as cunning Hannibal. Personally, I find this quite unsettling. Whilst I feel Mikkelsen should focus more so on the intelligence of Lecter, he appears to give a lot of his energy on exuding elements of the strange. Every actor can and should be encouraged to portray a previously tackled character differently, however for Hannibal one must ask, what inherently show stopping does Mikkelson bring to the table?