Why the “Hannibal” TV series falls flat compared to the original film classics

I am a huge fan of the Hannibal Lecter franchise. “Silence of the Lambs” remains one of the most chilling films I have seen in my life. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter remains one of the most memorable performances in my memory. This is why when a TV series titled “Hannibal” premiered featuring many memorable characters from the original films, I didn’t hesitate to watch.

However, as I finished watching the eighth episode of the second season, I find that the show while artistically creative with its constant use of dream-like imagery and a consistent grey hue that permeates the show, it falls flat on delivering the original terror of Hannibal Lecter. In both settings the titular Hannibal is a cunning psychopath who is professional a psychiatrist, a brilliant one at that. In reality he is a cannibalistic killer who throws fancy dinner parties with dishes made from human flesh. While one never sees him directly kill anyone on screen (all of his murders are implied), one is also fully aware of the fact that he is a killer. Thus the focus is not on who he actually is but he how he gets away with it.

In Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter is introduced to us while incarcerated. His back story is told from a case file; which means we are removed from the reality of it. What was terrifying was that this highly respected, excellent doctor who accompanies members of the highest social order can hide his true nature for so long. The terror wasn’t that he couldn’t be stopped; as was revealed in Red Dragon, as soon as Will Graham realized who Hannibal really is Hannibal was stopped immediately. His greatest asset was his camouflage, not some clever master-scheming where he sets up a complicated, contrived, and honestly fantastical scheme to get away from his crimes. His true brilliance was convincing the world for so long that he was beyond reproach.

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