With Continual Reference to Justin Kahn.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Ridiculously Scary Friday: An Insightful--but Slightly Long-- Post Which Delves into the Mind of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Emerges Deeply Scarred.

Last night, I rewatched one of the most terrifying movies ever made.

I don't have to tell you that one of the most horrifying evil doers of modern cinema is Dr. Hannibal Lecter, made famous, in “Red Dragon”, “Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal”.

I didn't watch any of those.

What I rewatched was the very first part of the great Hannibal tetralogy. Though less popular then the previously mentioned trilogy, it is no less terrifying.

The movie is of course Shadowlands, the first of many 'prequels' which offer the background of weird and complicated stories. Just the name of this one should immediately strike fear into the potential viewer’s heart.

In this film Dr. Hannibal Lecter stars as Professor C.S. Lewis, an Oxford Don and children’s author. But is this retiring Oxford Don as innocent as he seems? We, the viewers of “Silence of the Lambs”, know better.


While “Shadowlands” is somewhat less gory than the trilogy, which follows, it does answer a number of important questions, which the serious viewer will raise during the trilogy that follows.

One of the things I’ve always found unbelievable about Dr. Lector is his astonishing grasp of literary matters. For example, at the start of Brett Rainer’s Red Dragon, Lector quotes Horace. Now, how could a Forensic Psychiatrist have such intimacy with classics? This is explained by the episodes that show Dr. Lector as C.S. Lewis --a Classics Professor.

Why so many books in Hannibal’s cell? The viewer of “Shadowlands” is in the know: Lecter was once a professor—of books. In short, we get a more sensitive man, but one who is clearly on edge. If you are coming to the “Shadowlands”, already familiar with Dr. Lecter you may be expecting Professor Lewis to assault Joy or perhaps even have her for dinner (that my friends, is a double entendre; word play which would delight both halves of the Lewis/Lector character.)
Such expectations are frustrated. Rarely (if ever) do we see Lewis killing or assaulting another. Only a touch of the aggressiveness which will soon culminate in the sort of acts we simply would not expect from an author of children's author. But already we get hints of the beast within. A student falls asleep and Lewis’ rage shows. He nearly kills the kid, but than at the last second restrains himself.

“Shadowlands”, while not required to enjoy the Hannibal trilogy, deepens our access to the mind of a serial killer. Once we have seen Dr. Hannibal ‘Jack’ Lecter stalking about Oxford we can watch the trilogy with new eyes.

For example, at the start of Red Dragon, we see that Lewis now relaxes with music—obviously abandoning his career as a writer. With Lewis giving up writing, we learn the truth of the old adage that writers who don’t write end up going crazy.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very nice blog...

marco said...

Justin:
You're bio says that you're a "religious studies" professor sometimes. I was wondering if you had any thoughts (cogent thoughts, I mean) about the recent translation of the Gospel of Judas. (in today's NY Times).
Fondest memories,
Marco

Anonymous said...

I can see a boat from where I am sitting right now!

Cherrypie said...

I believe Legends of the Fall tells the tale of his ancestors

ian g. said...

Now that IS funny.

kathz said...

Revelatory stuff! I've always been amazed at the emphasis on eating in the Narnia books. (Note the anxiety about vegetarians when Eustace is introduced.) Mr Tumnus struck me as a sinister character; no wonder the white witch had him turned to stone. Did she try to stop Christmas because she knew what the feasting was all about? And Turkish delight was plainly the equivalent of nicotine patches for cannibals. Aha! It all makes sense now...

kath

WIP said...

the white witch and i never got along. Turkish delights don't sound so appetizing to me. For shame on Edward.

I happen to like Mr. Tumnus. but thats just me and I heard that Lion is a pretty hot fellow *winks*

Justin's conscious said...

These are by far the strangest comments to date.Um, lets see, i'm going to try and beat them by missing the point even more....Nope. I've got nothing. But seriously folks, very odd comments.

Frogger Blogger said...

Uhhh, duhhh. Blog nice. Like blog. Me blog like. Uhhh duhhh. Bloggy bloggy blog blog blog. There once was a frog who sat on a blog.

Anonymous said...

have you ever been on subservientchicken.com? ask him to make a chicken sandwich.

dag said...

Justin, I hope this link turns out properly. If it does I'm sure you'll enjoy it. If not, then I hope you'll make all the necessary moves to copy it out manually. I'm lucky with the link about 50/50. Wish me luck.



I'm covering my ears and huddling in the corner. Here goes!

dag said...

I don't get it. Nothing shows up.

Here it is in plainold black and white.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,985375,00.html

Maybe it's ironic, in a German kind of way.

Niklas Blog said...

You are a very strange character Justin, and I like it. Love the post. To sidestep from the weird comments in this post I agree that it is sometimes hard to lay one role of an actor/actress aside when watching a movie where he/she playes a differant role. It's the curse of beeing too successfull in a movie in Hollywood.

Gorgonzola said...

Lets not forget Meet Joe Black, which makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Now there's a story about the human condition and Dr. Lecter's latent bad movie tendencies.

Oberon said...

......lettuce prey four whirled peas........we can do better.....join in......i'm changing the world.....you can too.

Bish said...

Shadowland, aye. I will definitely add it to my list of must sees.

collin66 said...

Hilarious!

I enjoyed Shadowlands, even though it made me cry.

Grace said...

Let's not overlook 1978's "Magic," the movie that documented the first psychic split -- here between Hopkins/Lechter/Corky and his ventriloquist dummy.

Sarah said...

Irony is the compartmentalizing of intellectual thought in the form of "academics"...a proffessor would have to be confused by how a forensic scientists could actually be well read...so annoying that it makes me want to eat you--watch the other movies, they're more satisfying than horrifying
Sarah

Jenn said...

Apropos of nothing (like most of the comments here) I loved Shadowlands. It made me cry. Buckets.

I am so unironic it scares me. That's it Justin, I'm linking you.