October 10, 2002

The Cannibal Is Back

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Over 20 years ago, novelist Thomas Harris created the smartest, most artistic, and most evil man that fiction has ever seen. He attempted and succeeded at delving deep into the hidden realms of the mind, where fantasies and fear burgeon together. Little did anyone know, well after two sequels had been written, and after all three modified to the silver screen, that we would still get that icy feeling all through our bones, that hair raising apprehension on the back of our necks — every time we see him, every time we hear that curious, raspy voice. His riddles confuse us; his acumen leaves us in awe. Now, the newly-released Red Dragon combines brilliant script-writing from Ted Tally (who also wrote The Silence of the Lambs, of which this film is a prequel) with flawless acting, creating an aura of suspense and intrigue to add the final, yet the first, piece to Thomas Harris’ trilogy.

The film opens with a live orchestra performance in Baltimore, but unfortunately, a lone flutist seems to make a mistake, throwing off the pleasant tune for a mere moment. The average listener may not notice this insignificant mistake, but one man in the crowd is not your ordinary listener. He is the man whom I described above; he has elements of creative elegance that remind us of the Italian Renaissance. Furthermore, he is the most famous serial killer in cinematic history — Hannibal Lecter, M.D, played again by the radiant Sir Anthony Hopkins. The mistake of the flutist seems to insult Dr. Lecter’s intellect, and the viewer can easily assume why this flutist becomes a missing person shortly after the concert.

We learn that Dr. Lecter is an acquaintance of FBI agent William Graham, played giftedly by Edward Norton. The two use their collective brainpower to create profiles for serial killers, but in this case of course, the serial killer on the loose is Lecter himself. Graham, however, has the uncanny ability to almost empathize with a killer, to place himself within the perceptions of a psychotic mind. That’s what makes him so good, and as an audience member, it is an absolute pleasure to observe Graham at work. This time, he knows he is a sheer step away from finding the killer. Literally — one step. But like the flutist, he makes an unfortunate mistake. He turns his back on Lecter