Hannibal Rising

  • Film
  • Drama
0 Love It
Every schlock horror-maker knows to keep the monster hidden for as long as possible. At best, exposure diminishes its power to disturb; it also risks rendering it banal, even ridiculous. This applies to backstory and motivation as much as physical appearance: show us Hannibal Lecter caged in a cell yet unaccountably incisive, sadistic and amused, and we get a frisson; show him clutching his mother’s body, tearful eyes turned to the heavens as he wails ‘Mama!’, and you court sniggering. In tracing the good doctor’s formative years, ‘Hannibal Rising’ labours to dissect this avatar of gleeful malice. It proves a blunt little tool. Following the aristocratic Lecter family’s wartime flight from their Lithuanian keep, our pre-teen hero and his little sister undergo a traumatic culinary encounter with a gang of feral Eastern front irregulars (led by Rhys Ifans, eyes a-rolling). An elaborate revenge scheme against these brutes hatched by the adolescent Hannibal in ’50s France is facilitated by his tutelage in things decorous by a poised Japanese noble (Gong Li), saltily offset by an internship at an autopsy lab. A courteous snob as well as a psycho, Lecter has always been somewhat campy and Gaspard Ulliel – channelling the stiff-kneed walk and unblinking gaze of Anthony Hopkins’ performance – brings an apt insouciance to the lead. But the more Thomas Harris milks his character (here, for the first time, he wrote the screenplay as well as the source novel) the sillier the results get. ‘Hannibal’ proffered trained killer pigs and fresh brain-shavings; now, see the teenage killer idly strum a lute while awaiting a victim or smear mayonnaise on a rope to ensure a nicely lubricated decapitation! The clumsily episodic plot and ill-defined supporting characters offer little of substance to offset such baroque flourishes. Lecter is all relish, which is fine for a side dish but unsatisfying in a main.

Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday February 9 2007
Duration: 121 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Peter Webber
Cast: Gaspard Ulliel
Gong Li
Rhys Ifans
Dominic West
Kevin McKidd
Richard Brake
Stephen Walters
Ivan Marevich
Goran Kostic
Charles Maquignon
1 person listening
J. James

An absolute disaster. The dialogue is totally overwhelmed by the dirge-like music and the plot impossible to follow unless you first read the book. Pass it by.