I was full of anticipation as I sat down to watch the much-hyped
sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. With my strawberry cheescake
Haagen-Dazs in one hand, and my salted popcorn in the other, I
prepared myself to a £5-well-spent movie. What a disappointment.
Now, when attempting to piece together my recollections of the film, I suddenly realise that I cannot remember. The simple, but
effective plot to the original is still burning bright in my mind - Starling tracking down serial killer, Buffalo Bill, by 'interrogating'
Hannibal the Cannibal. The sequel, however, remains in my thoughts as a 'mish-mash' of sombre mood, dodgy editing, and a
Although a huge fan of Ridley Scott, I feel he under-achieved here. Perhaps the hype of a film momentarily causes critics to act
spitefully biased towards it, though it later turns into a much-acclaimed movie - Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music are prime examples. But somehow, I doubt the same will occur with this. The mood was too dark, almost boring. Florence, a city often portrayed in all its opulence through the magic of photography, was just like much of England. Dark and bland.
My main objection to the film, however, was the gore. A man hanging by a rope over a Florentine square, his disentangled bowels slithering onto the ground below; Starling's colleague sitting down to dinner with Clarice and Hannibal, the top of his head gone and his brain on show; a small boy eating pieces of brain. This isn't scary. This is disgusting.
I am not saying that films must not portray gore. If it is essential to the film's theme and objective then so be it (Re: Gladiator,
Saving Private Ryan). But the very thing that made the Lambs work was the lack of violence. Ok, so the audience was treated to Hopkins attacking two guards, but that was basically it. It was this absence of gore that kept the audience unsure - they almost doubted Hannibal's true evilness. That kept them on the edge of their seats. How could this well-educated, polite man be capable of such atrocities? Demme kept us guessing, rewarding us with one act of brutality to confuse us even more. Think back to our first glimpse of Hannibal that cannibal. The camera passed the wall and through the window to see him standing bolt-upright, in the centre of the room, as if expecting a guest, Agent Starling. He was not foaming at the mouth, or howling in despair. No. It was the calmness of those blue steely eyes as he stepped into the light that sent a shiver down our spines. He unnerved us. Scott, however, seems hell-bent on doing the opposite; overloading the film with gore in order to shock us. It does, but in a way that is almost funny. It takes away that mystery that made Hannibal previously so disturbing. We can see his evil character in full light, which turns us more against him. If Scott's aim was to create a black comedy, he has succeeded. Who would have thought it; Hilarious Hannibal. Julianne Moore does well as Starling, though unfortunately, an original movie and cast will forever be prevalent, and comparisons are made. Liotta and Oldman also have fun in supporting roles.
Hopkins, as ever, is fantastic. He does well with such a leaden script, and breathes some life into the movie with his camp
comments. Now that Demme has made us doubt his character, perhaps Scott is attempting to do the same with his sexuality? Just a thought.