Hannibal (Season 3) (NBC, Thursdays 10/9 Central) Review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 23rd, 2021  

Hannibal (Season 3)

NBC, Thursdays 10/9 Central

Jun 04, 2015 Web Exclusive
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As blood (or is it wine?) cascades at a dream-like speed, I echo the voices of many when I assert that Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal is art house on the small screen: as much as Mad Men, more so than True Detective, and certainly on par with that group of television serials that have been deemed “prestige television,” but reside on other networks. But to assert this idea and only speak of its aesthetic is a disservice to the show. Certainly, Hannibal‘s painterly, expressionistic cinematography is evocative of Lars von Trier, Xavier Dolan, Wong Kar-Wai, David Lynch, and others, but every frame is in service of an idea, a theme, a tonal beat. Fuller takes pleasure in marrying the beauty of the imagery with the grotesquerie of the dramatic irony. In essence, like all outstanding art house directors, he has a sense of humor.

The cinematography is so often pornographic in nature, in the literal sense. The camera gazes and lingers on the food, and then, as if in an act of denial of orgasm, cuts to another image to tempt the viewer. Whetting one’s appetite isn’t merely relegated to food, but in the inherently erotic and sensual nature of eating. Recalling Babette’s Feast or Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, cooking becomes a language; but while in the former films they’re used as a tongue of intimacy, in Hannibal they exist as the paradox of truth and lies. On the one hand, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) smirks at the notions that a) those feasting on his meal are unaware of its true ingredients and b) his audience is at once disgusted and yet salivating.

In addition to this orgiastic onslaught of gastronomical pornography, the dialogue of Hannibal is particularly unique. At first, the tempo and delivery is, forgive me, hard to stomach; it feels wooden, stiff, as if the players have to wrangle it. And yet, there is poetry in that. Reminiscent of the elusive, wave-like writing of Werner Herzog, Fuller’s words operate on two levels: at first, literally, as a thing to propel thematic arcs, and as a drill to burrow into the viewer’s head; and secondly, as another wink at the audience for its very archness and alienating quality. Everyone, even Gillian Anderson, reads their lines with a gruffness which is at once jarring and yet perfect for the tone of the show. It is perfectly reminiscent of the films of David Lynch, where line readings from Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr. and Laura Dern in Inland Empire are purposely broken, even atonal, and sinister.

This is all, of course, not only transposed but also magnified in the third season. We’re transported to Paris and Rome in the first episode, and it feels as if the romanticism that is so embedded in their cultural histories is married to the same romantic images that are composed on screen. It’s such a fitting pairing, like a homecoming for both the series and its characters.

And just as sadistically romantic is this season’s murder tableaus, hypnotic in their composition and rendering, their sublime beauty, and yet repulsive in their articulation of monstrosity.

It is impressive how committed this show is, even in its third year, to visually articulating severe psychosis, to unsettling viewers in spectacularly interesting ways. With Will Graham’s (Hugh Dancy) resurrection, as it were, and on the tracks of Dr. Lecter, the series takes on an even more overtly spiritual tone. The series has also been acquainted with theologically bent ideas, but the trajectory points to the series’ characters becoming manifestations of Biblical themes, concepts, and binaries. That they’re able to get away with such hard to sell content and pull it off with such aplomb is proof yet that Hannibal, so often a cut above the rest, gets away with delicious murder. (www.nbc.com/hannibal)

Author rating: 9.5/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10


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