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December 03, 2005

Film Review: Manhunter and Red Dragon Revisited

Today's Film Review courtesy of English-blog contributor Adam Mc.

*Warning: Article may contain spoilers!

The Tooth Fairy

I would like to start off by saying that both of these films were excellent additions to the Hannibal Lector series. They were the only films of the series that I had not seen before and not only did they explain many of the events that take place in the later films, but were also just as entertaining. Whether you're a fan of films with good plot twists and storylines or just a good old fashioned fan of the blood and gore that all of these films have become so famous for, you will definitely enjoy both Man hunter and Red Dragon . . .

. . . Since both of these movies have many similar aspects, right down to the dialogue, I've decided to compare and contrast them on the basis of their characters. There are three main characters in both of these movies; Hannibal Lector, Will Graham, and Francis Dollarhyde. I'll begin talking about the one and only, Hannibal Lector. Dr. Lector's character enters each of these film in a different way . He's also portrayed by a different actor in each film, and in my opinion, Anthony Hopkins does a far better job than Brian Cox. In Red Dragon, the film begins with Hannibal Lector enjoying an orchestra performance. This occurred just before his arrest and incarceration in a mental asylum. You can see Dr. Lector eyeing a flutist in the orchestra and even if you've never seen any of the Hannibal Lector movies you can tell that this man won't be playing the flute much longer. The movie then skips to the next scene in which Hannibal Lector is having a dinner party. All the guests are dying to know what exactly it is that they are eating. They all comment how much they enjoy the dish that Hannibal has prepared. One woman even wants the recipe, but Dr. Lector refuses to give out his secret ingredients. The "secret recipe" is never disclosed in the movie as it was left more to the imagination of the viewer, but the viewer assumes that the "secret" had something to do with the fate of the flutist. Once the dinner guests have left an unexpected guest comes to the door. It turns out to be Special Agent Will Graham. Will Graham is a friend of Dr. Lector's and often uses his knowledge, since Dr. Lector is still a psychologist at this point, to help him solve crimes. Will Graham complains about being at a loss with his latest case; a serial killer who enjoys eating his victims.

Graham says that he was so close to catching him, but then reached a dead end. Dr. Lector reassures him that he just needs more time and that he will eventually find his killer and then offers him a drink.
While Lector is getting the drink Graham begins to look around his office. He spots an anatomy book and opens it to a book marked page.

Graham is shocked to find that Dr. Lector is taking notes on which parts of the body would taste better. The parts that the doctor focused on were the same parts that the serial killer Graham was searching for had been stealing from his murdered bodies. He quickly grabs his gun and turns around, but Hannibal is there waiting for him and plunges a knife in his stomach. Before Graham passes out he grabs a nearby bundle of arrows and thrusts them into Dr. Lector's chest.

The movie skips ahead several years to where Graham is retired and Dr. Lector remains in a mental asylum. This is where the film Man hunter begins with Graham talking to his friend about helping the FBI out with one more case. I'll talk more about Graham later, but for now I want to discuss Dr. Lector in the two films. In both movies he displays his highly intelligent and always calm demeanor that has become synonymous with his name. However, while Brian Cox does a decent job at showing these characteristics, Anthony Hopkins does it like no other. The quality of his speech, the tone of his voice, and his facial expressions perfectly portray this character. The evil look he gives when talking to Agent Graham, the way he folds his hands behind his back when talking to someone, even using a southern accent to show humor at highly inappropriate times all help to make Hannibal the character we love to hate. Everything about this character is supposed to strike fear into the viewer and for the most part he does a good job of it. In both films Dr. Lector helps Agent Graham just enough to keep him guessing and always coming back for more information. In both films you can tell that Dr. Lector wants revenge on Agent Graham for putting him behind bars. He shows us this by telling the serial killer, that Agent Graham is tracking him and also telling him where Agent Graham's family lives. By the end of both films Dr. Lector remains in the mental asylum. However, unlike the end of Man Hunter, Red Dragon movie ends with Dr. Lector meeting with FBI Special Agent Clarise.

The next character I want to talk about is FBI Special Agent, Will Graham. Graham is one of the best when it comes to bringing down serial killers. He has a special knack for getting into the head of these criminals and thinking the way they do. This is how he caught Dr. Lector and eventually it drove him insane. He spent some time in a psychiatric ward and when he got out he retired from the FBI.

Several years after these events, the FBI calls on him again to catch one more killer who murdered entire families on full moon nights. He refuses at first, but then sees a picture of one of the murdered families and agrees to take on the case. In both films he seems very distant and almost anti-social. He focuses on his work and nothing else. He can visualize the crimes as if he was committing them.
However, as good as he is he still needs to call on Dr. Lector for help, who points him in the right direction with a series of riddles, but never a straight answer. The only difference in the two characters is that his dialogue is a little more modern in Red Dragon than in Man Hunter, but this is just because of when the movies were made.

The next character on the list is Francis Dollarhyde, also known as "The Tooth Fairy", or the "Red Dragon". This guy is seriously messed up psychologically. In the Red Dragon film, Dollarhyde's psychological problems are explained as a direct result of the years of abuse he received living alone with his grandmother and also by the fact that he has a hare lip and is very self conscious of it. In Man Hunter, they only talk about his hare lip, which is why he breaks all the mirrors in the houses of his victims. He is extremely anti-social and it appears as though human contact brings him pain. The only thing that makes him happy, it seems, are his murders, which are very well organized and planned. In both of the houses that he victimized, he started by killing the husband and wounding the wife, then moving onto the children. Once the children were dead he brought all the bodies into the master bedroom. Next he took the pieces of glass from the broken mirrors and placed them in the eyes of the dead bodies so they could "watch" as he raped their wife and mother. He didn't do this for sexual purposes or because he enjoyed murdering people.

Instead, he committed these murders because he thought they were changing or empowering him. In Red Dragon he appeared to be a schizophrenic and claimed the voice of the "Red Dragon" was telling him to commit these horrific crimes. In Man Hunter this was not the case. He was simply doing it for his own sick and twisted purposes.

He also wears dentures that have been modified to work like a dragon's mouth and he uses these as weapons several times in the movie. This is how he earned the name "The Tooth Fairy", although Francis Dollarhyde despises this name. A tabloid reporter coined this name and later suffered horribly for it. He
admired Dr. Lector in both movies and Dr. Lector was trying to help him at one point, telling him where Agent Graham lived. However, this could just have been for Dr. Lector's personal gain, a way for him to get revenge on the man who incarcerated him.

I have to say that I enjoyed Red Dragon better than Man Hunter, although Man Hunter was a very good movie. I found it to be, obviously with CGI and special effects, more visually stimulating, but that's not the only reason I enjoyed it more. Perhaps I favored Red Dragon because it was made during my time era and I can identify with the dialogue and actors more. I also found the story of Red Dragon to be more in depth and explanatory as well as more entertaining. I got more of a sense of the killer's background, and therefore a better understanding of why he did what he did. Even Agent Graham said at the end of the movie, "After you know what he had to go through, the abuse he put up with, you almost feel sorry for him."

~Adam Mc.

[Note: Part of this review has been previously published HERE]

Comments for Adam's article "The Tooth Fairy?" Please leave them below:

*Read more English-Blog Film Reviews HERE!


Posted by lhobbs at December 3, 2005 05:17 PM

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