Hannibal idolizes its killer. Lecter is surrounded by elegance and seductive cinematography, sweeping through lush Italian locations. It’s high class, swelling with mournful violins and coated in operatic imagery. Dialog refrences classic literature, in biblical reference as much as Dante’s Inferno.
It’s a lot to take. Snobbish, really. Hannibal evokes a feeling of class, if mostly through the available budget. With Ridley Scott directing, imagery carries a definitive boldness, treating Anthony Hopkins’ Lecter as a screen icon (deservedly). The film relishes the pop culture influence of Lecter. Locations, production design, and style scream affluence. One voice-less scene features Lecter browsing an antique shop, picking and choosing pricey, gold bowls. It’s as if he’s shopping for materials the same as the behind-the-scenes crew.
As with Silence of the Lambs, the premise is that of psychological terror; Lecter’s presence is harrowing, his words subtle, his actions maniacal. Scenes of violence celebrate the gruesome tenor established prior, treating slasher horror with a class befitting of Lecter. In that, Hannibal’s unique, and the techniques of Scott advanced over Silence.
Unique, intellectual, and at times stirring
Unique, intellectual, and at times stirring
Credit here to Julianne Moore. After Jodie Foster declined to reprise her role as Clarice Starling, Foster’s capable, earnest interpretation depicts a scarred federal agent. Hannibal makes a case against FBI tactics. A TV references the failure in Waco, Texas, drawing correlation to Hannibal’s opening shoot-out. It’s a critical sequence with brash detectives opening fire, and later, introducing corruption by way of a yuppie Ray Liotta. Starling’s role involves playing through politics, never surrendering her obligation and duty, while on the hunt for a master killer.
Like with Silence, Hannibal demands the Lecter/Starling duo. As a pair, they bounce intellects off one another, trading dialog in code, and creating a tension-driven finale. Hannibal’s issue then is getting there, stuffiness of the whole dragging the pace, relying on secondary characters in their own fights against Lecter. Giancarlo Giannini plays an Italian inspector seeking a payout, ultimately a droll, aimless part that leeches on the bad cop theme.
Then Gary Oldman, covered in a grisly make-up as Lecter’s lone surviving victim. Interesting, letting Oldman work through a story of revenge, propelled by violence and sexual oppression from a social period of anti-gay rhetoric. These multiple pieces – Oldman, Giannini, Foster – represent three tiers of potential punishment. Oldman wants Lecter dead, Giannini the reward and fame, Foster only justice. Their ends match their want. Unique, intellectual, and at times stirring, but rundown by too-rich metaphors, overshadowed by the attraction to Roman art.
Kino Lorber’s first 4K effort sets a high standard for their future format output. From a new 4K scan, Hannibal establishes tremendous levels of texture. Cobblestone streets and classic brick architecture create the opportunity; the resolution seizes and holds on with dazzling definition. Scenery shows off, but sharp cinematography elevates close-ups too, resolving facial texture with eye catching sharpness.
Grain fluctuates in intensity, used to match specific moods. Encoding – with a staggering bitrate – doesn’t struggle to keep the film stock transparent in this digital transfer. Even at a peak, grain stays organic.
Initial scenes suffer from black crush (notable inside the FBI van), yet that’s soon clearly a style choice. Dolby Vision boosts black levels without harm, mastering the intended depth of Hannibal’s numerous, darkness-laced scenes. The flipside is more subtle, choosing a reserved brightness, with controlled highlights. It’s not high on wow factor nor is that a focus of this source. Mood wins. Kino’s disc succeeds.
Looking back, color grading makes Hannibal an interesting study. Released a year after the tech was first used on screen, Hannibal uses a multitude of palettes. From dominating blues to heavy, saturated marketplaces, tone sways wildly between scenes. Color density brings out each, attractive and pure.
Powered by DTS-HD, the highlight of Hannibal is undoubtedly the opening shoot-out. Bullets pan around as if draped over the listener. It’s chaos. Debris falls around, catching each channel, with people shouting, fleeing between speakers. The miss is range, leaving the subwoofer silent even as cars begin smashing into one another.
The rest focuses on ambiance, stellar in bringing crowds and scenes to life. Streets sound busy, from pedestrian chatter to vehicles jumping between speakers. Every touch is natural, clean, and enveloping.
Everything from the DVD transfers over to Kino’s included Blu-ray. That begins with a Ridley Scott commentary. He’ll continue over a half hour of deleted scenes an alternate ending if you choose. Breaking the Silence runs 75-minutes, and looking back from today, it’s like an anomaly for a studio to produce something this in-depth for, what was at the time, a new release. Worth a watch.
A deep and involved look at the market gun fight runs 47-minutes, showing the angles from the numerous cameras utilized. Ridley Scott shares his storyboard process for nine minutes with a look at the opening title design up next. A slew of trailers – including some for Hopkins’ other projects – come in for the finale.
Overly elaborate in its visuals, Hannibal celebrates its title killer with an unusual level of respect while juggling metaphors.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 42 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: