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Hannibal Lecter

lecter

Hannibal Lecter is a fictional character in a series of novels by author Thomas Harris. Lecter is introduced in the thriller novel Red Dragon as a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer.

 This novel and its sequel, The Silence of the Lambs, feature Lecter as one of two primary antagonists. In the third novel, Hannibal Lecter becomes the main character. His role as protagonist continues into the fourth novel, Hannibal Rising, which explores his childhood and development into a serial killer. Lecter's character also appears in all five film adaptations. The first movie, Manhunter, was loosely based on Red Dragon, and features Brian Cox as Lecter, spelled as "Lecktor". In 2002, a second adaptation of Red Dragon was made under the original title, featuring Anthony Hopkins, who had previously played Lecter in the motion pictures The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Hopkins won an Academy Award for his performance of the character in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991.

In 2001, Hannibal Lecter (as portrayed by Hopkins) was voted by The American Film Institute to be the most memorable villain in film history.

 

Origin and development

Thomas Harris has given few interviews, and has never explained where he got inspiration for Hannibal Lecter, but in a documentary for Hannibal Rising, Lecter's early murders were said by the filmmakers to be based on murders that Harris had covered when he was a crime scene reporter in the 1960s. It has also been rumored that the character may be based loosely on Albert Fish.

In 1992, Harris also paid a visit to the ongoing trials of Pietro Pacciani, who was suspected of being the serial killer nicknamed the Monster of Florence. Parts of the killer's modus operandi were used as reference for the novel Hannibal, which was released in 1999.

Red Dragon firmly states that Lecter does not fit any known psychological profile. However, Lecter's keeper Frederick Chilton claims that Lecter is a "pure psychopath." Lecter's pathosis is explored in greater detail in Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, which explain that he is irreparably traumatized as a child when he witnesses the murder and consumption by desperate military men of his younger sister, Mischa.

AppearanceHannibal Lecter is described in the novels as being small and sleek, and with wiry strength in his arms. In The Silence of the Lambs it is revealed that Lecter's left hand has the condition called mid ray duplication polydactyly, i.e. a duplicated middle finger. In Hannibal, he performs plastic surgery on his face and has his extra digit removed.

Lecter's eyes are a shade of maroon, and reflect the light in "pinpoints of red". He is also said to have small white teeth and dark, slicked-back hair.

 

Film portrayal

Hannibal "Lecktor", as portrayed by Brian Cox in Manhunter.Brian Cox portrayed Dr. Lecter in the 1986 film Manhunter. Cox said his characterization was inspired by Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel.[6]

Anthony Hopkins is the actor most commonly associated with Hannibal Lecter, having portrayed Lecter in three of the character's five film appearances. Hopkins claimed that he drew inspiration for Lecter's voice from HAL-9000, the homicidal computer from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.[7] In 1991, Hopkins received the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Silence of the Lambs.

Gaspard Ulliel portrays Lecter as a young man in the 2007 motion picture Hannibal Rising. Ulliel stated that he based his portrayal on Hopkins' and mixed it with his own style.

Actor Aaran Thomas portrays Lecter as a child in Hannibal Rising.

 

Character history

In literature

Hannibal Lecter is introduced in the 1981 novel Red Dragon. He is a brilliant psychiatrist who is incarcerated after he is revealed to be a cannibalistic serial killer. Lecter spends his time during his incarceration writing articles for medical journals. Red Dragon depicts Special Agent Will Graham consulting Lecter to catch serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, known only to law enforcement and media by the pseudonyms "The Tooth Fairy" and later, "The Dragon." It is revealed that Graham was the investigator who captured Lecter, and that Lecter had nearly killed him before being arrested. After receiving a letter from Dolaryhyde, Lecter manages to send Graham's home address to the murderer via a coded letter. Dolarhyde later attacks Graham and his family at home, badly disfiguring Graham before being shot dead by Graham's wife.

Lecter appears in the 1988 sequel to Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, where he assists a rookie FBI agent named Clarice Starling in catching a serial killer known only as "Buffalo Bill".

Lecter and Starling form an unusual relationship in which he provides her with a profile of the killer and his M.O. in exchange for details about her unhappy childhood. Lecter later stages a dramatic, bloody escape from prison and disappears.

Following the success of The Silence of the Lambs and the immense popularity of the character, Harris spent seven years writing a third Lecter novel titled Hannibal, which was released in 1999 and took place seven years after the end of Silence of the Lambs. At the start of the novel, Lecter is found to be residing in Florence, Italy, while Mason Verger, one of Lecter's two surviving victims, is attempting to capture Lecter, planning to feed Lecter to his pigs. Fleeing Verger, Lecter returns to the United States but is subsequently captured by Verger's henchmen, only to be rescued by Starling. Lecter overpowers Starling and using drugs and hypnosis, attempts to transform her into the living image of his long-dead sister; Starling resists, however, and instead becomes his lover. They then elope to Argentina.

In 2006, Harris wrote a prequel to the Lecter books entitled Hannibal Rising. Harris undertook the project after Dino De Laurentiis (owner of the cinematic rights to the Lecter character since Manhunter) announced that he was going to make a film depicting Lecter's childhood and development into a serial killer. Harris also wrote the film's screenplay. The story explains that Lecter was born into an aristocratic family in Lithuania in 1933, and that he and his little sister Mischa were orphaned in 1944 when invading Soviet forces stormed the family estate. Shortly thereafter, Lecter and Mischa were captured by a band of Nazi deserters, who murdered and cannibalized Mischa before her brother's eyes. The death of his sister was extremely traumatic to Lecter, causing him to become temporarily mute and sparking his fixation with cannibalism. Lecter escaped from the deserters and took up residence in an orphanage until he was adopted by his uncle Robert and his Japanese wife, Lady Murasaki. As Lecter grew into a young man he formed a close, pseudo-romantic relationship with Murasaki and showed great intellectual aptitude, entering medical school at a relatively young age. Despite his seemingly comfortable life, Lecter was consumed by a savage obsession with the horrific events of his childhood. After gaining his first taste of murder (through eviscerating a rude butcher who had previously insulted Murasaki), Lecter methodically tracked down, murdered and partially cannibalized all of the men responsible for his sister's death, forsaking his relationship with Murasaki and losing all traces of his humanity in the process. The novel ends with Lecter being accepted into the Johns Hopkins Medical Center and moving to the United States.

lecter

In film

Red Dragon was first adapted to film in 1986 as the Michael Mann film Manhunter. For reasons unknown, the filmmakers changed the spelling of Lecter's name to "Lecktor," who was portrayed by Scottish actor Brian Cox. In 1991, Orion Pictures produced a Jonathan Demme-directed film adaptation of Silence of the Lambs, in which Lecter was played by British actor Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins' Academy Award-winning performance made Lecter into a cultural icon. Hopkins' Lecter remains the shortest lead role to ever win an Oscar, appearing in the movie for a total of only about sixteen and a half minutes. In 2001, Hannibal was adapted to film, with Hopkins reprising his role as Hannibal Lecter. The ending for the film was changed from the novel due to the controversy that the novel's ending generated upon its release in 1999. In the film adaptation, Mischa is never mentioned, and the ending was changed with Starling attempting to apprehend Lecter, instead of them eloping to Argentina.

It has been incorrectly reported that Jodie Foster, who had portrayed Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, made the producers change the ending due to her disappointment with her character in the novel; however, the producers were planning to change the ending even before Foster considered reprising the role. Foster did not play Agent Starling in Hannibal. The role was played by Julianne Moore. In the film Hannibal, Lecter escapes from Starling's custody after cutting off his own hand to free himself from her handcuffs. The choice to cut off his own hand instead of Starling's shows a sympathetic side of Lecter's character with regard to the beautiful agent; mercy that few others in his path enjoyed.

In 2002, Red Dragon was adapted to film again under its original title Red Dragon, with Anthony Hopkins once again as Lecter and Ed Norton as the FBI Agent Will Graham.

In late 2006, the script for the film Hannibal Rising was adapted to novel format. The novel was written as to explain Lecter's development into a serial killer. The novel and film were panned by critics.

 

In other media

Hannibal Lecter has often been the subject of parodies and references in general media. In addition to making an appearance in MAD magazine, Hannibal Lecter has been the subject of parody for several animated television series such as South Park, The Simpsons, and even the Nickelodeon program Fairly Odd Parents, most of these parodies feature the character wearing Hannibals infamous mouthpeice. The character has even been parodied in a musical, entitled SILENCE! The Musical.

Source: encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com


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