Hannibal Lecter

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Doctor Hannibal Lecter is a fictional serial killer. He is a character in books by the crime drama writer Thomas Harris. Several of these books have been made into movies.

Lecter himself[change | change source]

Lecter is a cannibal, meaning that he eats people. He is also highly intelligent, so that he can talk to people in a way that makes them afraid or disturbed. He employs this unusual technique most famously in The Silence of the Lambs, a novel featuring him that was made into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins as Lecter. The movie became very popular, and won many awards.

Lecter is Lithuanian. He considers himself very cultured, and often kills people that he thinks are stupid, annoying, or rude. He is a psychopath, meaning that he is a predator who does not feel empathy. Thus, he is able to do whatever suits him on a whim without feeling guilty.

List of novels and movies[change | change source]

Red Dragon (novel, 1981)
Manhunter (movie, 1986) Brian Cox as Lektor (an unexplained name change), William Petersen as Will Graham and Dennis Farina as Jack Crawford.
Red Dragon (movie, 2002) Anthony Hopkins as Lecter, Ralph Fiennes as the killer, Edward Norton as Will Graham and Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford.
Silence of the Lambs (novel, 1986)
Silence of the Lambs (movie, 1991) Hopkins as Lecter, Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, Scott Glen as Jack Crawford and Ted Levine as the killer. Five major Academy Awards.
Hannibal (novel, 1999)
Hannibal (movie, 2001) Hopkins as Lecter, Gary Oldman as the killer, Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling, Ray Liotta as Paul Krendler and Giancarlo Giannini as Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi.
Hannibal Rising (novel, 2006)
Hannibal Rising (movie, 2007) Gaspard Ulliel as young Hannibal and Gong Li as Lady Murasaki. She, his aunt, becomes his companion. Intended as a 'prequel' to the series, it portrays the early life of Hannibal, and how he became a killer.

History of the character[change | change source]

Red Dragon[change | change source]

Thomas Harris first wrote about Lecter in his novel Red Dragon, which shows how Hannibal Lecter was caught by the FBI, and ends up using his intelligence to help the agent who caught him catch another killer named Francis Dolarhyde. Will Graham, the agent who caught Lecter, is at first very offended by Lecter's demeanor, but comes to appreciate his help when Lecter gives him insight into the way Dolarhyde's mind works. Dolarhyde believes that he is a god, and that he is unaffected by laws and rules.

Two movies were based on this book. Manhunter (1986) starred Tom Noonan as Dolarhyde and Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter. In Red Dragon (2002), Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lecter and Ralph Fiennes played Dolarhyde.

Silence of the Lambs[change | change source]

Lecter returned in The Silence of the Lambs, the sequel to Red Dragon. The movie based on this book became very popular. The book is about an FBI agent named Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster in the movie), who, like Will Graham from Red Dragon, is trying to catch a serial killer, who calls himself "Buffalo Bill" because he skins his victims like buffalo. Starling makes a deal with Lecter in which she will try to get him transferred to another prison (Lecter hates his cell) if he will help her understand Buffalo Bill's mind. In the end, Starling catches Bill, but Lecter escapes from prison, fleeing to Africa.

Hannibal[change | change source]

Harris' next novel was Hannibal. It was a sequel to Silence of the Lambs. The book told the story about what happened to Hannibal Lecter after he escaped from prison. Lector was hiding in Italy. He used a false name and driver's license so he would not be caught. The book is about a victim of his, named Mason Verger. Verger survived when Lecter tried to eat his face. He now wants to get revenge on Lector. Mason Verger captures Lecter. He tries to kill him with attack hogs, but Lecter escapes. Lecter was again played by Hopkins in the 2001 movie.

Hannibal Rising[change | change source]

The final book in the series was Hannibal Rising. It shows Lecter as a child. It tries to explain why he is a murderous cannibal. The critics did not like Hannibal Rising as much as they liked the first three books. This was mainly because people thought that the was unrealistic. They also felt it was not true to the characters. Thomas Harris has said in many interviews that he only wrote the book because he was afraid that someone else would write a book about Lecter as a child. This book was also (2007) the basis for a film of the same name, with Gaspard Ulliel as young Hannibal.

Impact on popular culture[change | change source]

The character of Hannibal Lecter has become very popular in American culture. This is mainly because he is so scary. Lecter is often thought to be one of the best movie villains of all time, next to Freddy Krueger and Norman Bates. AFI listed him at #1 on their list "Top 50 Movie Villains of All Time"[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. "AFI's 100 YEARS...100 Heroes & Villains". AFI.com. http://www.afi.com/tvevents/100years/handv.aspx. Retrieved 2008-12-07. "Dr. Hannibal Lecter of The Silence of the Lambs declared #1 Villain"