I first knew about Hannibal (2013 – ), an adaptation of the characters developed in Thomas Harris’ novels, when it was in the post production stage. I remember I was looking through Mads Mikkelsen’s IMDb page—yes, I know of Mads since I saw him in Valhalla Rising (2009)—when I noticed that he was going to be Hannibal Lecter in an NBC’s TV series. I didn’t know what to expect… I didn’t even cared to remember the premiere date. I didn’t know who produced, who directed, or who was writing. All I knew was that Mads was a great actor who would probably create an amazing portrait of Hannibal the Cannibal.
A few months later—or maybe a year? I don’t remember—I came upon some online articles about the series. That’s when I realized it was already airing. A week later I watched the first episode, and *gasp* I did not like it. I thought it was too slow with only seconds of Mads in front of the camera. I didn’t understand the TV series’ proposal easily. A few weeks later I decided to rewatch the first episode, and then I knew. I watched the second episode, and the third, and the fourth, and so on… Everything was beautiful—but more than beautiful, it was perfect.
I shouldn’t have any doubts about the series. If I had look into the production details, I’d have seen that the series was being produced by Gaumont and the Dino De Laurentiis Company—producer and owner of the copyrights of the Hannibal movies—with Bryan Fuller, creator and writer of Dead Like Me (2003 – 2004), which meant that the script was probably going to be an intelligently written one. And it was; it is.
The first thing that caught me about NBC’s Hannibal was the cinematography, and the production design. It is seamless, very geometrical, and balanced. It is built like a painting: every shot is thoughtfully placed in the sequence and in the scene… like a brush stroke with no arbitrary meaning. And sometimes it places tribute to classic audiovisual works like The Shining (1980) and the Hannibal movies.
The same thing happens with the script. A few weeks ago I rewatched the first season, and I noticed how the dialogue subtly directs the viewer to what’s going to happen in the development of the series. One clear example is when Hannibal says (in the first episode of the first season, Aperitif):
This cannibal you have him getting to know, I think I can help good Will see his face.
And he does. Hannibal slowly shows Will who he is but Will doesn’t necessarily gets it. Not at first because they don’t know, or don’t want to know, he is the cannibal.
Another thing is the heterogeneity of the cast and characters. It has a mentally-disabled guy and a black man as two of the three main characters; an Asian woman, and women in positions of power. Most of these choices were made by Fuller, who decided to change the race and/or sex of the original characters written by Thomas Harris (all or most of them were white males).
Hannibal also develops topics that are considered delicate or taboo (or that simply don’t appear in popular or genre TV shows or movies) like euthanasia in patients with a terminal condition, the use of cannabis to treat cancer, biopower and the female body, interracial homosexuality, and the portrayal of an individual with a condition similar to Asperger’s Syndrome in a highly-qualified job and not segregated from society.
Another thing that I love about Hannibal is that it doesn’t focus on the female body to maintain the interest of the viewer. There are no ass or boob shots! The little nudity or sex scenes that made it to the series are artistically represented in a way I haven’t seen in a TV series before. It doesn’t depict censorship—although one episode was prohibited from airing on TV—, instead the series shows the bodies as human bodies, not as pieces of meat in a market.
(1) Food p0rn! I’m not going to say much about this… just that there’s a chef and a food stylist in the production team.
(2) The deaths are macabre, grotesque and beautifully assembled!
I really wanted to write something a little bit more critical but it’s hard! This series is currently my favorite one and it has been since last year. I seriously can’t say or see anything wrong with it. It hasn’t disappointed me and that usually happens in the second or third season of whichever series I’m watching (and I watch a lot of stuff because of reasonsreferences).
I hope it doesn’t get cancelled after the third season. I will cry if that happens.