by Kate Capodanno
The new NBC series Hannibal provides audiences with a prequel to author Thomas Harris’ iconic character Hannibal Lecter and proves to be a show that audiences can sink their teeth into. The unnerving plot and the gruesome scenes allow horror lovers to satisfy their craving for blood every Thursday.
Those with queasy stomachs may not appreciate the grisly visuals; however, the show is not all blood and gore. The program is exceptional in both its cinematography and acting, making it a unique addition to this spring’s television line-up.
The first episode, which aired April 4, opens at the scene of a crime where the audience is introduced to the show’s protagonist, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Here the audience learns about Graham’s peculiar way of thinking; he is a special agent who uses his autism as a way to embody the killer and replay the scene from the murderer’s perspective.
To get inside Graham’s head, the cinematographer of this episode, James Hawkinson, draws the camera close to Graham’s face and uses a rose filter to create a surreal atmosphere. This helps the audience visualize the way Graham analyzes evidence and discovers the motives behind the serial killer’s streak. This technique, which is used throughout the episode, allows the audience to learn about Graham’s character without him saying a single line. The cinematography for TV shows is often lacking but Hannibal proves to be an exception, suggesting that its production value will play an integral role throughout the series.
Additionally, the actors deftly express the nuances of their characters through subtle facial expressions and gestures. Dancy’s inability to make eye contact and overall tense demeanor helps build Graham’s character and illustrate his autistic tendencies.
Mads Mikkleson, who portrays Dr. Hannibal Lecter, is able to develop the subtle cockiness of Lecter and finds genuine satisfaction from sautéing a pair of human lungs into his omelet. It would be taking it too far to say Mikkleson’s portrayal of Lecter is at the same caliber as Anthony Hopkins; however, his elusive smiles and confident eye contact transform this Danish actor into a believable serial killer.
Another notable performance comes from Laurence Fishburne as Agent Jack Crawford. Through his acting, the audience becomes aware of both Crawford’s frustrations with and dependency on Graham. His performance is most notable in the scene where Graham and Crawford argue in the men’s bathroom.
For those who are familiar with Harris’ novels or who are lovers of horror films, this unique addition to the iconic story of Hannibal Lecter is a must-add to the DVR.