Monday, 21 September 2020
Hannibal Rising
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Sunday, 11 February 2007 00:00
The Hollywood moneymakers are working their magic once again by producing a film solely for the purpose of cashing in on an already rich industry. That industry goes by the name of “Hannibal Lecter”. Indeed pop culture already owes a lot to the opera loving, Chianti sipping, cultured cannibal made famous by Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. The performance won him an Oscar and made Hannibal the Cannibal a household name. Now, with the release of Hannibal Rising, fans are let in on what made him a monster.

The movie begins with Hannibal’s traumatic childhood in Eastern Europe at the end of World War II. Young Hannibal is helpless to prevent his parent’s death by senseless gunfire. He is left only with his little sister whom he must now protect. But his small form can do nothing against the horde of men who decide to hole up in the small cabin that was their home. After only one day of hunger the men decide to do the unthinkable – they justify their actions by saying Misha has pneumonia and would die anyway. She is killed and becomes dinner for the heartless men. From then on the innocence in Hannibal dies and he becomes hell bent on getting revenge for his sister.

From this point on the movie runs down Hannibal’s hit list much like Uma did in Kill Bill. One villain after another gets popped off in the name of some kind of poetic justice. Some of the murders are gruesomely fun and do reflect the kind of artistic creativity that we imagine a younger, less refined Hannibal might display. We’re definitely meant to feel sympathy for him even as he grows into young adulthood. But there comes a point where sympathy leaves off and realization sets in that his appetite for revenge will never be satisfied.

Overall, the movie was entertaining enough to keep me from squirming in my seat. A decent, although copycatted performance by Gaspard Ulliel as the title character. Gong Li plays the role of the widowed aunt with whom he has an unconventional romance. In a ridiculous scene, she teaches him martial arts and he dons a facemask that foreshadows the infamous mouth cage worn in Silence of the Lambs.

I felt this would have been a better film and a more intriguing story had it not been about Hannibal Lecter. The character in this film doesn’t live up to the sinister creature that lurked in my mind. The Lecter we know, love and fear is a mystery and I think he would have been better off left that way. Moviemakers should have learned their lesson from the film Hannibal, which was a huge failure. After all, everything is scarier when there is no logic to it, cannibalism not being the exception.

If you’re in the mood for some “finger-licking good” cannibal films I recommend re-watching Silence of the Lambs or renting a little film called Ravenous. Save Hannibal Rising for a rainy day rental. I give it 4 out of 10 stars.