Watching a serial killer live a normal life, while murdering and eating his victims is quite disturbing, but Mads Mikkleson embroils you in an intricate and strange relationship that you know you shouldn't indulge but you can't help yourself

Do you remember the Salt’n’Pepa/En Vogue song ‘What A Man’? The hook line goes

What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man.

Well, Hannibal Lecter is the polar opposite.

My introduction to the character Hannibal Lecter was via the box office hit Silence of the Lambs, which starred Anthony Hopkins and Jody Foster.

The portrayal of Hannibal (the Cannibal) was a masterful performance. Both Hopkins and Foster won Best Actor awards, and the film won Best Picture. It’s fair to say Silence of the Lambs swept the board for the top awards that year winning five of them.

I chose not to engage with the TV series because, sometimes, I’ve been known to be curmudgeonly about adaptations of classic cinema. So, when I saw that a TV series was made and it appeared on one of the streaming platforms, I sniffed a haughty nah, and moved on, thinking, it can’t be as good.

Well, that decision was completely wrong.

Late Night Viewing?

The series which stars Mads Mikkelsen, Lawrence Fishburne, Hugh Dancy and Caroline Dhavernas is a driving, binge-able, contradictory (in places), thrilling watch that I haven’t been able to stop viewing, apart from at night because it disturbs my psyche.

Mikkleson’s Hannibal is much more disturbing than Hopkins’s portrayal, not least because Mikkleson’s portrayal is so attractive. He’s sophisticated, handsome, well-spoken, a fantastic cook, and because in his pre-incarceration persona as a psychiatrist, he’s ’trustworthy’.

As the audience we know he’s the villain, but he masks his fiendish ways so well and the twists and turns of the plot has you on the edge of your seat, crying out for someone to see what we’re seeing.

The photography style and the mood of the show add that extra dimension, with little of it shot during the day, mostly dim or dark with that yellow lighting.

Supporting characters

There is a supporting cast of well-known character actors including; Lawrence Fishburne as FBI Agent Jack Crawford, Gillian Anderson as Lecter’s own therapist Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (can you imagine being Lecter’s therapist?), Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, a special investigator with the FBI behavioural science division, who’s ultra empathic disorder allows him to see into the minds of serial killers.

The relationship between Lecter and Will is especially intricate and is part of the reason why (I believe) Hannibal is so compelling.

Hannibal is currently available in the UK on Netflix. I highly recommend viewing, maybe during the day though.

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