***WARNING! The Following Article Features Novel, Film, And Some Hannibal Season Three and Potentially Later Season(s) Spoilers***
Hannibal has become an iconic figure for many in the past three decades with novels and films alike, but Bryan Fuller's TV series hits the mark on what Thomas Harris had attempted to craft by taking the source material to brand new level and an all out anthropomorphic and romantic expansion.
For the fans that have not read the books or have seen the films, Hannibal may come off to the viewer as the devil, or at least a devil that is hard to understand and empathize with, but for book readers and moviegoers, this Hannibal has the makings of the anti-hero that we all know and love, but at time in his life that could be considered his prime and/or a rather specific turning point working towards an evolution to Hannibal's idea of salvation and/or retribution.
It's not to say that this pre-Red Dragon Era doesn't come with some rather noticeable changes, not so much from how one might perceive Hannibal, but rather sex changes for certain characters and [dis]ability changes for another, race changes for yet another, and using characters mentioned in passing as important bridging characters, while also introducing brand new characters, but the changes themselves all tend to be good moves that are highly reflective of other time periods, themes, and characters of the source material. This article is to explore those grand allusions and references, despite that we're still going to have to wait and see of Clarice Starling or potentially a similar character with a different name, will ever be introduced due to MGM holding Silence of the Lambs rights hostage. We also may then temporarily sidestep the Grecian/Roman Leda and the Swan for a more recent German relative with allusions to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Erlkonig.
Book fans tend to praise Red Dragon and it's near "copycat" or mirrored sequel Silence of Lambs both of which are psychological thrillers and crime dramas presented in a procedural-like fashion, but the third novel, Hannibal, goes outside the box and takes some characters from Silence of the Lambs and pegs them in a new light with themes of love, retribution, and corruptibility, and where the previous caged Hannibal's new found freedom atmospherically feeds into this post modern Gothic horror romance, where taste is elevated, love transformed, and where the Law Enforcement no longer looks so good, but presumably is still eatable.
Hannibal Rising then changes style and tone again, as it takes it's audience back in time to reveal an at first fragmented origin story all back dropped by the second World War in Lithuania, followed by a solid revenge story set in Paris that also presents a great philosophical and eventual romantic struggle between Hannibal and his exotic Japanese aunt. It's true that by itself Hannibal Rising isn't that great of a novel, but as a companion piece to Hannibal it importantly informs it and solidifies the franchise's themes, while also being more simplistic, which may in return reflect Lady Murasaki with Eastern philosophy, Asian culture, and Asian writing styles such as a Haiku.
Obviously Fuller's vision has it's whole timeline updated and thus certain aspects of Hannibal Rising have to be altered, but I think as long as certain key elements remain the same (Mischa's cause of death, Hannibal a victim of horrific circumstances), it should still have nearly the same meaning, which I think is more evident in Hannibal's TV series' second season.
"Mischa, we take comfort in knowing there is no God. That you are not enslaved in Heaven, made to kiss God's ass forever. What you have is better than Paradise. You have blessed oblivion. I miss you every day." -Hannibal Rising
Abigail Hobbs, initially only mentioned in passing in the Red Dragon novel, is a character that will have to be correlated under multiple book/film sections, as she reflects Mischa, Hannibal's dead little sister, which is what FBI Agent Clarice Starling comes to represent in Hannibal's "memory palace" and so she also then automatically references Clarice too.
"Occasionally, on purpose, Dr. Lecter drops a teacup to shatter on the floor. He is satisfied when it does not gather itself together. For many months now, he has not seen Mischa in his dreams.
Someday perhaps the cup will come together. Or somewhere Starling may hear a crossbow string and come to some unwilled awakening, if she indeed even sleeps. We'll withdraw now, while they're dancing on the terrace--..." -Hannibal pg 544
In Fuller's story, Abigail seems to be used as the beginnings (and perhaps more of a side step) of an evolution of Hannibal Lecter's design. One has to understand that in the Hannibal self titled novel, Hannibal loves Clarice, but is trying to manipulate and change her so that his sister can live within her, but Clarice is much too strong to be changed, but ironically, set seven years after Silence of Lambs and with nemesis within the FBI, she comes to be a character much like Hannibal with tragic past, but a deep desire to actually want taste and to be loved, something Hannibal has in abundance.
Will Graham, initially a Red Dragon character, seems to represent something Hannibal never thought he could have again, which is friendship and/or companionship. It's unclear if Hannibal's experiments in this time period are conscientiously working towards his need to bring Mischa back to life, or if this is just a catalyst and step along the way, but in either case, it's still easy to see the past and future continuously juxtaposed and in parallel.
"And so I came to believe, " Dr. Lecter was saying, "that there had to be a place in the world for Mischa, a prime place vacated for her, and I came to think, Clarice, that the best place in the world was yours." -Hannibal pg 535
Georgia Madchen is first seen at her friend's "farm house" (in which there is also a bathtub seen outside a shed--a wink and juxtaposition to Hannibal Rising and Mischa's death), but it's her "death by comb" that alludes to Hannibal's pursuit of Clarice and Clarice's initial lack of taste and/or a sign of civility. She obviously also parallels Will Graham by being conditioned with a curable illness.
"It occurred to Dr. Lecter in that moment that with all of his knowledge and intrusion, he could never entirely predict her, or own her at all. He could feed the caterpillar, he could whisper through the chrysalis; what hatched out followed it's own nature and was beyond him." - Hannibal (about Clarice) Pg523
Note: The caterpillar analogy in the above Hannibal passage may tie back to Silence of the Lambs and the Asian variety of the Deaths-Head Hawkmoths found in the mouths of victims, along with themes of transformation, which also could extend themselves into the ways of Lady Murasaki.
"If remarks are passed that are unpleasant in the instant, you will see that context will make them something between droll and riotously funny. If things are said that are painfully true, then it is only passing truth and will change." He took a sip of his drink. "If you feel pain bloom inside you, it will soon blossom into relief." -Hannibal pg524
Note: Hannibal plays "If Love Now Reigned" on his harpsichord in the Hannibal novel to Clarice. Curiously Hannibal seemingly baptizes himself in the rain as he walks past Alana laying on the ground before leaving for Paris at the end of season two. That scene could tie back as a pun and with opposite contrast on the words reign and rain.
There is also the one shot [dead] character Sarah Craber, (who shares many letters with ClARiCE), found dead inside a dead horse, which Hannibal happily infers that the horse is a "Divine Pagan Symbol" and whose overall symbolism is about "rebirth". We also discover that a blackbird or "Starling" is alive inside Sarah, which is because the social worker, Clarke Ingram, is trying to frame the disabled animal caretaker, Peter Berandorne, for his murders and ultimately reflecting Hannibal's and Will's own relationship from the end of the first season.
Some of this is also important, as Hannibal was born and started to grow up in Lithuania inside his family's castle being a descendant of Teutonic Knights (A German Medieval Military Order. And please note the blackbird on some of the crests). Lithuania has a rich Christian-Pagan history with people practicing those beliefs, although uniquely in Hannibal Rising, Hannibal also had a Jewish teacher, which was to help diversify Hannibal's understanding of the world. Additionally it is Jeremy Davis that is cast as the animal-empathetic and disabled Peter Bernardorne. Some may know Davis from his Lost role as Daniel Faraday. Faraday was a reference to Michael Faraday the man behind a "Faraday's Cage" -and the Lost characters' mother, Eloise Hawking, was a reference to Stephen Hawking, which I will discuss in an upcoming paragraph...
I also had to do a double take when I noticed "white rabbits" in some of Peter's cages (and Peter holding a RAT), which might also wink to Lost's time traveling experiments (Vault, Orchid, Casimir Effect), Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland stories, Benjamin Linus, and perhaps by extension to themes ideas presented in John Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men. Daniel Faraday also had some kind of temporal [dis]ability (whether it be from timeline networking and/or a kind of retro casualty [side] effect), which might be what Bryan Fuller and gang were getting at with Peter having a "vibrating-view" effect, which I also have to say reminds me of True Blood's Maenad Maryanne Forrester (whom I think could give Hannibal a run for his
Additionally the horse rebirth episode also reflects both the fact that Hannibal had a horse named Caesar as a child and also that Clarice briefly spent some time with some of her relatives after the death of her father, in which includes their horse and sheep farm that extends itself to the butchering of the lambs and their screams that woke young Clarice up in the middle of night. At the end of the episode. right before Will re-enters the barn to witness Peter's payback, Hannibal is seen petting a little lamb.
"When Will Graham could open his right eye, he saw the clock and knew where he was.--an intensive-care unit. He knew to watch the clock. It's movement assured him that this was passing, would pass. That is what it is there for." -Red Dragon
Other shout outs include looking at Will Graham himself. In Red Dragon the character is described as having autism, but now instead has an empathetic disorder in which extends himself to viewing crimes scenes in reverse and heavily identifying with the killer(s). This is important because in the novel Hannibal it is revealed that Hannibal was a Stephen Hawking fan and often sited a [now dunked] theory of TIME eventually moving in reverse! (See A Brief History In Time) Often Hannibal would break tea cups which relates to Hawking's analogy of a tea cup being able to put itself back together again. It's knowing that time has yet to be able to move in reverse that keeps Lecter able to love and not hurt Starling, as so long as time moves forward, Mischa can never exist again...It's curious then also that Hannibal refers to Will as, "Jack Crawford's fragile little teacup" and that we see Abigail Hobbs be drugged by Hannibal through drinking tea in which result in the cup smashing to Hannibal's kitchen floor!
Time in reverse is ultimately something Hannibal comes to fear and so it is a brilliant choice to have Will be a psychological bearer of such an idea, as Will is probably the first person in a long time that makes Hannibal "feel" something deeper or offers a promise of a better tomorrow.
And speaking of Stephen Hawking, in the episode where in the asylum an orderly, Matthew Brown, helps Will by offering to murder Hannibal on his behalf, we also get a bird analogy between small birds picking on large "Hawks". The orderly also comes with a scene that juxtaposes a scene in Hannibal, where Hannibal hangs and slices open the bowls of the Italian Florentine Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi! Additionally in Hannibal, Hannibal weighs in (through Chilton recorded audio tapes) on his musings of what kind of "starling" Clarice is...
"Hannibal at eighteen was rooting for Mephistopheles and contemptuous of Faust, but he only half-listened to the climax. He was watching and breathing Lady Murasaki..." -Hannibal Rising
"You smell of jasmine and green tea. You smell of peace." -Hannibal Rising
"Popil looked at Hannibal for a long moment. "If you kill in France, Hannibal, I will see your head in a bucket. Lady Murasaki will be deported. Do you love Lady Murasaki?""
"Yes. Do you?" -Hannibal pg.263
In Popil's office she found Dr. Ruffin and Dr. Dumas in close conversation. Rufin took Lady Murasaki's hands. "you told me he migh freeze inside forever", she said.
"Do you feel it?", Rufin said.
"I love him and I cannot find him", Lady Murasaki said.
"I never could.", Rufin said.
She left without seeing Popil. -Hannibal Rising Pg.308
But season two also alludes to Murasaki and Hannibal Rising through Jack's wife Phyllis and her cancer storyline with the wish not to suffer in a long drawn out death, as easing suffering is often associated with Eastern Philosophy, which is furthered with the acupuncturist "honey-bee" killer (Amanda Plummer), who is also trying to give people peaceful deaths. There is also Hannibal's flower-tree, which resembles the structure of a cherry blossom. And there's a samurai shrine in Hannibal's house, as Lady Murasaki had one too in which Hannibal offers the crude butcher's (and fisherman's) head (Paul Monond) as an offering,
"It is useless to talk with those who do not understand one and troublesome to talk with those who criticize from a feeling of superiority. Especially one-sided persons are troublesome. Few are accomplished in many arts and most cling narrowly to their own opinion" --Murasaki Shikibu, Dairies of court ladies of old Japan.
But season two also continues serves as an interesting juxtaposition to things around the corner, as most fans know that it will soon be Hannibal who is locked away in the asylum behind bars.
Jack's "Bella" may also connect us to Hannibal, as a good chunk of the novel takes place in Florence Italy and where Hannibal gets near-cozy with Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi's wife Allegra, much like he does with Jack's wife.
When Hannibal visits Will at the end of the first season the iconic classical music "Vide cor meum" plays, which is also featured at the beginning of the film adaptation of Hannibal.
Note for the TV Show Classical Music Track List, Check Out This Great Tumblr Page!
I also would like to touch on Randall Tier. I feel Tier touches on what the novels and Fuller's series continues to ask about the nature of humanity, which is, if humans are enlightened beings that can spiritually transform and rise above, or is art and civility a false facade for a more complicated game of survival of the fittest, where humans are still primal hunters or animals among ourselves? Hannibal himself represents this dichotomy. Randall Tier is specifically used as means to show this contrast or opposition to Hannibal's own ideals, which is one of the reasons Hannibal didn't mind sending the non elegant and ruthless methods of Tier to meet his own demise. Randall also lightly reflects Hannibal in the film version of Hannibal Rising in terms of his looks and both being killers that initially go into scientific fields of study (although Hannibal is much more well rounded to simply be confined to one occupation). But additionally the museum setting is also reminiscent of scene in Silence of Lambs, where Clarice stops by to ask a friend a question that she thinks may help her on her case. But additionally, because Randall was found of an extinct European species of bear (cave bear) and because he created his own cave bear exoskeleton, also feeds into the debate over evolution, survival of the fittest, and human spiritual enlightenment, when Hannibal also uses him to get closer and/or on equal terms with Will Graham.
Last season Hannibal comments about "having old friends for dinner" in relation to having Dr. Chilton over for dinner. The film version of Silence of Lambs ends with Lecter on the hunt for Chilton, but calls Clarice to let her know, that he's having an old friend for dinner!
There's also a season one episode that featured Elliot Buddish (pun on Buddha/Buddhism) a man who could see those that sinned and he cut their flesh and positioned them as angels to watch over himself as an attempt of his own need to achieve spiritual elevation. This could be references to both Red Dragon's "Tooth Fairy"/Francis Dolarhyde (watching over someone/alternate personality ) and Silence of Lamb's "Buffalo Bill"/Jame Gumb (a man who was cutting skin from others to make himself a new 'person suit'.
So for anyone who believes that Bryan Fuller, his writers, and/or other producers and directors are not respecting or honoring the source material in some way, I would think again, as there is much built here to be able to look forwards and backwards in time. And for fans who think Hannibal is the ultimate antagonist they should read/view the source the material along with John Milton's Paradise Lost or even any Faustian literature. There are worse than Hannibal in this universe and sometimes Hannibal makes good arguments and even has some understandable reasons for doing what he does, despite the absolute horror of it.
Trivia: Author and artist William Blake was mad at John Milton for humanizing the devil in his works (Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained), siting Milton as destroying and loosing perspective of Christianity. One reason why this trivia may interest Hannibal fans is because in Red Dragon, the story's real antagonist dubbed as "The Tooth Fairy" has Blake's iconic The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Sun depiction of 'The Devil' tattooed on his back, and because both Mads Mikkelsen and Bryan Fuller refer to Hannibal in contrast to the Devil, which is alluded a great deal in Hannibal and Hannibal Rising.
"Tell me, Clarice, would you ever say to me, "Stop "If you loved me, you'd stop"?"
"Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her and find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight and ache for him?
"Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her and find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight and ache for him?
My only real concern will be, if Bryan Fuller does require the rights for Silence of the Lambs, how he will juggle Will Graham, Clarice Starling (or a parable character), and Hannibal? It's important to me that Clarice, or rather Hannibal's affection for her, come be the most significant thing in his life (next to Mischa of course) and whose love of her stems beyond the love he has shown for any other character, including Will Graham. My biggest fear by keeping Will along for the ride is that the writers will try to make a love triangle out of them, which despite that I could see a Silence of the Lambs Era Clarice be ideal for Will Graham, I think it would ruin Hannibal's and Clarice's transformations, especially if the characters are all used by each other, against each other, as season two has already done, but with Alana instead. I do think Clarice is character that could use some fleshing out, especially since besides confronting some of her daddy issues with Hannibal and later dealing with a corrupt FBI and nemesis form within, it's somewhat unclear what changes Clarice from a plain, but intelligent country girl to a woman who comes to have some elegance and taste. That love I think needs some more exploring. Will Graham I think could serve as a brother figure and Margot more of a sister figure, as for Alana, it will be interesting to see if she ends up leaving for Chicago (where Alan Bloom is from in the novels) or not, or if Fuller will just let her die, but I can't imagine her affections for Hannibal will stick and I would also hate to use her as a confrontation to Clarice, but it would be fun to see if there would be a twist on Bloom's Gallbladder removal! There is also Will's alleged upcoming wife Molly to consider too, which makes me more hopeful that if Clarice would join in that she would be true to the source material and be her own thing to Hannibal.
Theories For Season Three:
At first I speculated that Hannibal and Bedelia would be France bound both due to the Daphne Du Maurier reference (and matching Du Maurier-like ending) along with all of the Hannibal Rising references and allusions. My first guess was right, as Fuller explains the first half of season three would be set in France, --and that it would borrow some plots from both Hannibal and Hannibal Rising blended together!
But Fuller also said that Hannibal's origin story was significantly changing! It was no secret that timeline is 20 some years altered and moved forward, and thus Hannibal's born out of World War II story would have to be different, but I was still trying to figure out what he might mean.
My guess is that the Robert Lecter (Hannibal's Uncle) becomes the villain of the piece. Possibly being apart of a religious cult that sacrifices and eats people, including Hannibal's sister, in which Robert makes his nephew partake in the ritual...
My Reasoning For This:
First, Bryan Fuller stating pretty early on that not only did he want to introduce and bring to date Lady Murasaki in his version, but also Robert Lecter, who died in Hannibal Rising. When I first read that I could not imagine what his reasoning was, because I felt it would take away from Lady Murasaki's fidelity and sense of peace and justice, which would make the Hannibal relationship with her messy, instead of something that I think had a more natural progression, but if Robert would be a villain to Hannibal, then one could see Murasaki more easily as Hannibal's initial protector, despite whether she knows the whole truth or not...
Note: Picture above is of David Bowie from his twisty-horror-halloween music video released in 2013, Love Is Lost. David Bowie is Bryan Fuller's dream cast for Robert Lecter. Other picture credits include Louvre Museum in Paris, France and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) with her "dancing instructor" from A Game of Thrones.
Another reason has to do with my own appreciation for Hannibal Rising. I would agree with anyone who said that it by itself it's not the greatest novel ever written, but I also think that it's under rated in the sense that it beautifully informs the novel Hannibal and that Thomas Harris was creative in both changing styles and perspectives in his last novels, but also played with TIME and memory by having Hannibal Rising be published after the other three and to start Hannibal Rising out as a series of fragmented memory.
Last summer I reread both Hannibal and Hannibal Rising back to back and there were things touched on in Hannibal Rising that inspired me to ponder, if I were to ever write a continuation to Hannibal, what would it be about? I'm not a big fan of fan fiction, or at least publishing it online, because I understand and value the work that has been written and feel that sometimes fan fiction works as a way to undermined someone else's creation and think people are better off just creating their own things from scratch if they really feel the need to say something, but I do think it can be a good creative exercise, which is why sometimes I feel compelled to privately write a few paragraphs, scenes, or ideas down.
Ok, so try not to laugh!
So one afternoon it just kind of came to me. I started writing a story that both takes place after the events in Hannibal in which Lecter Castle became a tourist attraction and where a group of little French orphans and various messed-up families from around the world came to stay for part of the summer (and where an older certain chief prepares interesting meals), but also one that took place far in the past with Hannibal's ancestors adding onto their castle, while also being in the middle of war, and whose family was filled with philosophical disagreement. I was fascinated with the idea that Hannibal's ancestors were Teutonic Knights and became interested in the history of Lithuania and it's pagan-christian history and wanted to tell parallel tales that extended centuries apart, which also included Hannibal's orphaned 10 yr old daughter.
So when I thought about the possibility of Fuller using Robert Lecter, as opposed to Lithuanians temporary hired as German soldiers, I initially thought of the Lecter ancestry and the history that I began to research, and how would it be possible for Hannibal to still be a victim, but yet maybe make this version's story much more complicated and personal? And I thought of some weird (potentially fictional or not?) Ancient Pagan ritual that could tie into cannibalism and sacrifice...
Why This Could Work
The reason this would also be a good move is because of how Fuller started his story with Abigail and Jacob Hobbs, as Abigail basically felt obligated to follow her father's instructions. There would be a fantastic juxtaposition with two very different kinds of families with a history of cannibalism and this would also make Abigail appear more of an important symbol to Hannibal on her own and not just something Hannibal used to lure Will to his side, as he would not only identify her with the loss of his sister, but with himself. Abigail's story would basically be a microcosmic version with a different ending to Hannibal's, which could also drive his own potential revenge story in the third season. And if we would get into the Eras of Clarice Starling, it also wouldn't be hard to make some parallels in terms of Clarice's lifestyle and class to Abigail's either, including the love of one's father figure(s), which is evidently important in the Hannibal novel in relation to Clarice's own transformation.
This also makes me think that Alana Bloom may be the one to die and not necessarily Abigail Hobbs, as both Alana's loss and Abigail's survival could be used to make Will determined to catch Hannibal, going back to his own revenge story, and also being able to use Abigail to catch Hannibal (and where maybe Abigail's loyalties are still not clear). It's true it would be nice to see Alana survive for Will's sake (and in theory she could be used as Clarice if need be) and I'll be interested to see if perhaps Alana will be perceived dead, but in actuality revealed to be alive later at the end of the season, perhaps the truth about her will be a surprise twist on the behalf of Kade Prurnell?! I'm also thinking Abigail could be alive, because Bryan Fuller also revealed that initially it was going to be Abigail on the plane with Hannibal at the end of the episode, as opposed to Bedelia, which has me thinking there could of been a potential future plot there for the character. If that were to happen, there could be an interesting juxtaposition to these seasons ending where Abigail finally dies, and Alana lives, although she may no longer be a love interest to Will Graham, when his eventual wife Molly Foster should also be introduced, so we'll have to wait and see!
The idea of using Robert Lecter as a villain could also extend itself into the fallout of Will's and Hannibal's own brotherly relationship, as Hannibal may find himself still, and now as a grown man, dancing around his Uncle, but also that his Uncle may provide insight into another brotherly rivalry through himself and Hannibal's father.
Other things to consider with season three may be a continuation with the Vergers, especially Mason. As mentioned, Fuller's version introduces them early, along with Hannibal's iconic flesh-eating pigs, but curiously in Fuller's version, Mason confronts Hannibal on Mischa, implying that perhaps he has already been doing research on Hannibal and is already obsessive prior to this confrontation. So I could easily see some Florence, Italy plot threads with Mason sending men after Hannibal to parallel that revenge story, but also maybe connect Verger to Hannibal and his remaining family members in some new and unexpected way. (I just hope we save the pig scene along with either the novel's or film's demise of Mason for a later time)
And I will leave you with this final quote in relation Hannibal's Memory Palace--the space in his mind:
"Spaces devoted to Hannibal Lecter's earliest years differ from the other archives in being incomplete. Some are static scenes, fragmentary, like a painted attic shards held together by blank plaster. Other rooms hild sound and motion, great snakes wrestling and heaving int he dark and lit in flashes. Pleas and screaming fill some places on the grounds where Hannibal himself cannot go. But the corridors do not echo screaming, and there is music if you like." -Hannibal Rising