The Great Red Dragon Debuts – A (Rambling) Review

Episode 8 of season 3 of Hannibal was a debut in more senses than one. First and foremost, this is the episode where Francis Dolarhyde as portrayed by Richard  Armitage makes his first appearance. Secondly, as a Hannibal virgin, this was *my* first time – of viewing a full episode of Hannibal. I came at this series with a huge amount of trepidation and with some reservations about what I perceive as the glamorization of murder in Hannibal. But let’s face it – the prospect of seeing Armitage act was always going to be too much of a temptation than to stand firm on my principles. As it is, although my innocence may be lost, I do not regret watching. And not only because Armitage is stunning in this role but because I the show is extremely well done in many aspects: The performances of the actors are nuanced and believable, the characterization of the protagonists is thoughtful and thought-provoking, the cinematography is clever and aesthetic, the dialogue is clever and amusing, the musical score is chillingly effective and the production values are very high. In short – I am hooked. At least on the Red Dragon story line. And here is why [Contains Spoilers and References to Unsavouries]:

Armitage Scene by Scene

Dolarhyde on rings

(Body-) Building the Red Dragon – Dolarhyde trains in the attic

Almost like a present to any Armitage fan, the episode starts with a long intro that focuses entirely on the “becoming” of the Red Dragon and thus leads the viewer into the background of Francis Dolarhyde’s story. This was almost like a “play in a play”, a whole story in itself, coming full circle from the beginning to the end: After a look at present-day Dolarhyde studying his hands and delving into a Time Magazine article on the Blake painting of the Red Dragon, we observe young Dolarhyde – signified by his untattooed body – as he is training in his make-shift studio in the attic, we see him scrutinizing a pair of dentures that he has had made in an oriental shop. In the same place we are also shown how he is tattooed. Eventually we are witness to his great becoming when he presents himself, naked but tattooed, to the Red Dragon on the easel, worshipping the beast and becoming one with it. Leaving the impressive body aside for the moment as hard as that is, pun intended, what really stood out for me was the body control that Armitage has put into his portrayal of Dolarhyde. That is particularly obvious in the training scenes (and he has told us in various interviews that he took inspiration from Japanese butoh dance for this. Where the hell does he find these inspirations, btw? How do you search for something like that?), contorting his body in such a way that you almost think you perceive some mighty beast under the skin, occupying Dolarhyde like an empty vessel, trying to break through the skin, shedding the shell that Dolarhyde’s skin provides. But not only there, all of Dolarhyde’s movements appear carefully crafted. He displays a rigid stiffness, a deliberate slow motion intensity, and a certain gingerness, as if careful not to damage whatever is inside him. Armitage characterizes Dolarhyde through his body language – he is utterly *not* Armitage, and neither any other chaRActer whom he has played before. This is a completely original character – and you forget immediately that it is Armitage occupying this role.

Angular Dolarhyde Face

Angles and Lines – Dolarhyde

Body acting really is Armitage’s forte, something that I already thought when I saw him on stage last year. Imo he was most effective as Proctor when he did not have to speak too much but when he could let his body do the talking. This talent comes into its own in this episode as Dolarhyde is almost silent through-out. Instead his face, his eyes and his body speak. The rigid posture of the body translates to a piercing, unblinking gaze that Armitage has given Dolarhyde – again, unlike anything I have seen him do before. None of the characteristic nervous eyelash flutters, but a frightening intensity of pent-up frustration, passive-aggressive, anticipatory self-defense and the unblinking, frightening hubris of the insane serial killer. Dolarhyde’s intense gaze is terrifying, the face all sharp angles, from the hairline of the crew cut, the dark eyebrows and the thin, unsensual line of the mouth, to the pronounced vertical lines grooves on the root of his nose and the painfully obvious split lip. The lighting, although not particularly harsh, picks out the lines and adds contours thanks to the director’s penchant for backlighting.

Emotionally I was most taken with the mirror scene – the only time in this episode when we hear Dolarhyde making sounds. Staring into a broken mirror, he is practicing speech – S sounds in particular. Dolarhyde is deeply frustrated with his inability to enunciate clearly. He concentrates so hard, and yet his reward is nothing but humiliation. He comes across as deeply tortured, and the helpless, strangled scream for release appeals to the viewers’ compassion and sympathy. But as always with Dolarhyde, the Red Dragon is lurking in the background, unseen, but felt and heard, hissing sounds, growls, inhuman noises. This is quite clearly an attempt by the writers of the show to instil compassion for Dolarhyde in us – and an indication that they are indeed not trying to turn Dolarhyde into a pastiche serial killer, but in hinting at the human dimension of his story. Dolarhyde’s soul is as broken as the mirror he gazes into. While he is human, what is staring back at him from the mirror is a fragmented, split personality: the physically imperfect man, the eagerly-trying-to-please child, the frustrated and angry adult, and the awe-ful Red Dragon. Using the broken mirror as a prop, the film almost becomes a Cubist painting. No coincidence, of course – it may be subtle, but much like cubism (in painting) itself, the multiple viewpoints offered in the broken mirror are an attempt at presenting a multi-faceted portrait of Dolarhyde. The individual “facets” concentrate the effect.

Cubist Dolarhyde

Cubist Cinematography? The many facets of Dolarhyde’s broken soul

Cinematography

The cinematography (by James Hawkinson?) in Hannibal is equally smashing, if you pardon the pun. Earlier glimpses into previous trailers of the show had already indicated that. The food close-ups are mouth-wateringly beautiful – wine being poured into a glass, pieces of chocolate submerging in softly viscous cream. For the most part, Hannibal seems to be filmed with a wide aperture – which blurs out the backgrounds and makes the objects and people in the foreground stand out sharply. That creates a very soft look for the film – which is in contrast with what is being discussed or shown on screen. A conflict of content vs presentation – which is thought-provoking and adds to the general feeling that something is off: A nasty cannibal, incarcerated in what looks like a chateau; a serial killer of families, given soft warm red and golden lighting; horrendous crimes, depicted through the metaphors of food and art. I still think the over-aesthetisizing is dangerously ambiguous. But I am beginning to get that it is done deliberately and for more than artistic effect.

Deus ex machina Dolarhyde

Deus ex machina – not as a plot device, but literally

As it is, Dolarhyde is not given the same “beautiful” mise-en-scene as Hannibal Lecter. He may be shot in warm tones (in his attic, in the oriental shop) but there is no aesthetic beauty in the depiction. He is chaos, disorder, clutter, frantic-ness. The scene where he watches his footage of the killing was in stark contrast to the aesthetic Hannibal. This scene stood out for me, too, because the cinematography and effects really got us into Dolarhyde’s head: Watching his footage, Dolarhyde becomes increasingly agitated. It was unclear to me whether he is really disgusted at the butchering of a family he has committed (as Armitage indicated) or at the botched performance (that’s what I took from the book – Dolarhyde is annoyed that his “performance” loses coherence towards the end of the killing spree). But the scene very effectively shows Dolarhyde’s increasing disappointment and anger. He perceives the rage of the Red Dragon and he frantically attempts to shut off the film projector. This eventually culminates in him getting caught up in the role of film. He becomes the deus ex machina (literally), a mechanical monster, gagged and bound by the film and with lights shining from his eyes and mouth, a robot, not a human. This is nightmarish, frightening, and you are right there with Dolarhyde as it happens. You have to hand it to the creators of this series – they have fantastic creative vision. They know how to create impact with all means open to them.

Dolarhyde film

The stuff of nightmares – creatively visualized

Sundries

As is evident from my review, I am in this for or because of Armitage. But there were other things and scenes without Armitage that positively stood out for me. The dialogue in Hannibal  is very clever and amusing. Dr Fred Chilton’s conversation with Hannibal had me grin from ear to ear. “Blood – and chocolate. That should’ve been the subtitle of my book. But I promised myself, I would never use colons in my titles. Colons lose their novelties when overused.” “You have to write another book.” “Hm. I am. But not about you. Like overused punctuation the novelty of Hannibal Lecter has waned.” Wonderfully sarcastic, intelligent humour. – I was also very taken with  Will Graham as a person; frightened yet dutifully courageous. I loved how the film showed memories flashing through his mind – like countless snapshot images floating around him. – Lastly, the soundtrack. What a great score by Brian Reitzell. It adds this underlying sense of doom to the Dolarhyde scenes, and is so minutely matched to the action and movements of the characters, it feels integral to the action. There is a kind of Chinese feel to the Dolarhyde score, with gongs and crescendi drums as well as esoteric humming sounds that totally make my skin crawl. A score as it should be.

Conclusion

Horror will never be my favourite genre. Luckily Hannibal is not *quite* a horror show, I think. There is more in there than the cheap thrill-and-kill. The psychological dimension of the characters is always noticable – the redeeming feature of  the show, imo. And a fantastic opportunity for Richard Armitage to meet a new challenge. He may have played “dragon sickness” before. But this is “dragon insanity”. The schizophrenia of Dolarhyde demands a whole new level of nuance from Armitage, in his face, in his body and in his speech, and he rises to the challenge more than aptly. It is very much to his advantage that he is not laden down with a Thorin-esque fur cloak (or half an artificial face for that matter) because he gets to show what he can do – he becomes Francis Dolarhyde, in all sorts of details. A Great Becoming, indeed. I can’t wait to see Armitage in the next episode.

Jump to my review of Hannibal 3×09 here.

Review of Hannibal 3×10 here.

65 thoughts on “The Great Red Dragon Debuts – A (Rambling) Review

  1. All colon jokes aside, Frederick Chilton has a permanent colostomy bag due to disembowlment by Dr. Abel Gideon. Looks like these 6 Episodes will stand as their own mini series. Yes we’ve not seen this Francis before. A new level of body language. Wonderfully accurate review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, there’s the insider knowledge. I really should’ve mentioned somewhere that I know very little about the previous plot. Which is why this story line is ideal for outsiders/newbies to get into Hannibal.
      Glad you agree with (some of) my assessment.

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  2. I wasn’t a complete Hannibal virgin, having seen a few episodes from the first season, but I was impressed by the artsy feel to the episode. the use of music and sound-effects especially. I must confess that I didn’t find the scene when Dolarhyde gets himself wrapped up in the film reel, all that creepy– I felt it was a bit over the top and it left me smirking with a raised eyebrow. I was impressed with Richard’s portrayal but it was kind of a let down in the sense that it was basically what we saw in the preview. I look forward to being pulled in opposite directions concerning Dolarhyde the man and Red Dragon the monster though–I have no doubt that Richard will deliver.

    if I may mention other characters: I was kind of pissed at Will’s girlfriend, coaxing him into doing that job again. I understand why but I felt her attitude was a bit flippant, like she has no clue the level of darkness he has to put himself through to do that job. also, the illusion of Hannibal’s cell being all posh and sophisticated was the creepiest thing to me. I’m weird.

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    • Yeah, in away the episode was spoilt because almost all scenes had been teased before. (They are really working it with Armitage… getting the most out of him. At the expense of suspense.)
      The film reel scene – so much in Hannibal is OTT visualizing of stuff. At the same time, I thought it was actually not completely OTT. Dolarhyde is such a strange mixture of clever and mixed-up, I could totally see him getting frantic and totally botching it all in his clumsy attempt at shutting off the projector. Plus – comic relief. Slapstick.
      As for Molly – I think her character (and the whole relationship?) hasn’t been explored very well. The whole time jump leaves a lot of questions open. You wonder how much Will has told her about his previous dealings with Hannibal – especially as she is very quick to encourage him to get back to profiling… But well, I have no idea – I know too little.

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      • Maybe the writers wanted to depart from the movie versions of Will’s wife, who were more reluctant IIRC? I agree she comes up a bit as one-dimensional.
        I felt uncomfortable, almost sick during the footage viewing sequence, when FD fights with the camera and ends up being litterally the camera, gagged but huffing nonetheless, the CGI – and the acting – are really effective, at least to me.
        I was impressed all along the episode by RA’s performance! When Dollarhyde isn’t able to produce accurately the word he wants to… his cry is chilling and moving at the same time, so the expression on his face.

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        • Margot – hey, is this your first comment here? Welcome! ❤
          I think Fuller definitely wants to depart from the movie versions. I suppose he has always made that clear by "basing" his show on the stories of Harris.
          Armitage's performance was spotless throughout. And has risen in my estimation once again because we now know that a lot of the characterization was actually conceived by him.

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            • Yes, I have actually given up for the moment. Overkill. But also the usual effect – essentially the same content over and over again. Makes me wonder what kind of format these interviews had? Did they bring groups of journalists into a room to ask questions in a group setting? Or were they conference calls? Because some of the stuff keeps coming up again and again. Not complaining, just wondering.

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  3. I wish I was able to write in such manner as you do. For one paragraph it would take me a week, but to you it feels like words are only waiting to be written.
    As always, review is spot on but I would add that even with half artificial face in Hobbit, his eyes speak all ❤

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    • Agreed, Andrea – I would never have thought that it is possible to act with the eyes, but Armitage does it all the time. That piercing stare! Like a pin-prick where it hits you. Maybe acting under the Thorin prosthetics has really pushed that to a new level for him?
      And thanks for the compliment. I have to admit, though, that I was working on this post since 11 am this morning 😉 Thank goodness the family is still out of the house. The “flow” comes easier when I am on my own 🙂

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  4. I have to confess I really start to be looking forward to the release of the DVD. There is no chance to see this on German TV any time soon, I think. On the other hand I will not put up with a dubbed version.
    I am not a virgin to Hannibal. I have the DVDs of series 1 and 2. As much as I adore Mads Mikkelsen I was never really into this story and the handling of all this forced brutality – sociopaths and psychopaths do frighten and unsettle me.
    But as usual the following of Mr. A. always leads to things I have not heard before and there is always something new and astonishing to encounter. Butho dance? Never heard before. But in times of google and youtube you are never far away to be educated in the most stunning things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVZi8zuJExo
    What a very special art. Not sure if I like it or loath it. But well worth watching and pondering it a bit. And the ability of this dancer to master gravity makes my jaw drop, lazy couch potato that I am….. 🙂
    Ps: I am very creative in the placing of colons (and commas). TBH I have no idea of English grammar, so I put them wherever they feel right for me.

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    • Armitage is a veritable trail-blazer for his “Army”. He leads us to many places we never thought we’d go. And not to our detriment. I was really glad to read the latest interviews, though, where he confirms that he had reservations about the way murder is handled in the series. Kind of makes him human…
      BTW *psssst* you don’t necessarily have to wait until the DVDs come out. There is a magical little site called Youtube out there…

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  5. *gasp
    It is already available on youtube? Well then, I will have a glimpse, I guess. I have never before downloaded anything that might have brought me somewhere near movie pirates or the like. And I thought there are restrictions on the internet for new media work that is not available on DVD yet. Dear naïve me.
    But I have to have the DVD! I have all of the work of Mr. A on DVD. Except Into the Storm. I pretend that didn’t happen. 🙂

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    • If it’s on YT, you don’t have to download, i.f. 😀
      My DVD collection is decidedly poor. I think I have more of my ex’s oeuvre on film, than I have Armitage’s. Um. Mind you, I have no intention of adding the wind film to the collection. Unless I can snap it up for 50p at Oxfam.

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  6. Great review, and I really appreciate the comments on how it was filmed; I’m totally with you on Armitage’s performance; however, after watching two series of the same old, same old, I find the staging, cinematography and general aesthetics not only OTT but repetitively self-indulgent. It was interesting to me to observe my reaction, because I had a two week pause between the end of season 2 and this (and couldn’t make myself watch the first six episodes of the third season despite trying three or four times). I ended season 2 thoroughly disgusted by the show and almost unwilling to watch any more of it. When I turned this episode on, after we got past the opening, I thought, oh, how familiar. Still disgusting, but now also boring. Until I got to Will reenacting the murders of the Lees, at which point, boredom was replaced by active repulsion and anger at the showmakers. I get the point that Will’s strength in his role as crimestopper lies in his capacity to so fully reinhabit the mental lives of the criminals, but they made that point approximately 26 episodes ago and seem to have little new to say about it.

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    • Thanks for this response, Serv. This illustrates really clearly what a difference it makes that I have jumped into the series at this point as opposed to knowing the series from the start as you do. For me, the aestheticization is new, fresh even. The characters are unfamiliar, therefore what looks as repetitive to you grabs my attention. I have not seen the gore and horror that has preceded it, either, and with relatively little gore in this episode, I felt little disgust.
      So our viewpoints are entirely different. What is overused to you – the horror, the self-indulgence, the repetition – is new for me. Hence my relative enthusiasm for the concepts, the characterizations and the aesthetics.
      I read a review today that argued that episode 8 is the ideal starting point for anyone coming at the series late. Even without knowledge of the prior seasons/episodes, that’s how this instalment felt to me.
      The question I have for you, is – are you hooked enough to continue watching? Is Armitage enough of a bait? Or are you fast-forwarding through this in order to contain your feeling of disgust?

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      • I guess if I watched this, I will watch anything Armitage is in, and I am probably going to watch each episode complete, at least once, since I watched the previous two seasons, and this one. He’s so different here from everything else he’s been in that it’s not fair to just cherrypick his scenes — you have to see the whole picture to understand what’s going on artistically and rhetorically — why the director put him in the scenes the way he did, what the script is trying to communicate. If I don’t watch it my understanding will be necessarily limited (which is why I still plan to try to watch the first half of season 3 even though he isn’t in it). What’s absent for me, though, is something I had in spades with Spooks and at least somewhat with Strike Back: an interest in the plot or the other characters. Part of the problem is probably that since I’ve read the book I know more or less what the Dolarhyde plot is going to be (in broad strokes), but part of it is that I just don’t look forward to more gore, and when a quarter to a third of an episode is devoted to Fuller’s fascination with that … uch.

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        • I see your point re. watching all instalments of a series in order to get the full plot. There are probably many references that I will not catch. (Someone – Fernanda? – already pointed one out that I did not know; Chilton wearing a colostomy bag, which adds another layer of irony to the conversation with Hannibal I quoted from.) However, for *me* this is the next best thing, catching the series from this point onwards, where it is starting with a new story arc. I will rely on you and others to enlighten me on the finer points.

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  7. I have watched Hannibal from the very beginning.So I am not the Hannibal virgin.Your review was spot on.Richard was great,looking forward to all the next episodes.

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  8. I loved this review – but I didn’t realize, after all our backs and forth (sp? gr?) that you had not seen any Hannibal. I’m enjoying the various reviews and recaps, because it seems to me that the critics and TV/film bloggers, journalists -whatever they call themselves, all have a slightly different tweak on what’s being done by the director, the lighting guy, the scorer, the scriptwriter. Shards of the episode seen from different angles. ( And then there is the Hannibal crew, actually spoon feeding some of it, to my annoyance). I wish I had the patience to actually write about these differences – and here, in your post, you come up with ( no surprise) noticing the warmth or coolness of the tones used in scenes – the cinematography, the lighting. Of course.

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    • Yeah, I have never seen a full episode of Hannibal. I just couldn’t stick the gore, and that little re-cap before the start of episode 8 nearly made me gag. Well, it made me fast-forward through that awful scene where Hannibal comes at Will… I had read the Red Dragon book, though.
      It’s great to have so many reviews, but it’s almost getting boring to read so much praise now *laughs*. Unilaterally positive, it seems – which must be bittersweet for the Hannibal makers considering the fate of the show… The Hannibal crew’s involvement in the commentary is certainly different. I am still fascinated with it, though, because their fan-involvement is so different from what I have known so far…
      And yeah, the photo nerd always concentrates on that kind of stuff 😉

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  9. I’ve watched the episode three times already. Hannibal had remained on my no-watch list since the beginning because I’m highly sensitive and did not want my mind to go into a prolonged serial-killer story. The Silence of The Lambs scared me tremendously and I’ve never been able to watch it again (don’t want to do it) and put myself though that, although I do love Jodie Foster’s Clarice Sterling.

    I did watch the first seven episodes of this season and didn’t understand what was going on half of the time because of my ignorance of the previous ones. If it hadn’t been for Richard, I would have stopped watching. Your review is outstanding and I dare not add anything about it on my blog. I did, however, replied to your question with today’s post. 😉

    Hopefully I’ll be able to watch the rest of the episodes without having a panic attack because…I know Richard will continue to deliver and we will continue to be scared. Thank you for being so eloquent.

    P.S: Did you wonder why the food in the refrigerator was fresh? How many days had gone by since the family’s murder? Someone please enlighten me!.

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    • Well, join the club, B! I never even tried watching Silence of the Lambs, as popular as it was back in the day. It was just too frightening for me. And I honestly tried Hannibal but I just couldn’t even get beyond the trailer of season 2.
      With the Red Dragon story line, it is a bit different. Ok, yes, because I can’t resist watching RA, but also because the book hasn’t scared me and I know that Hannibal is now behind bars and not killing anymore. Of curse, I am bracing myself for flashbacks etc, but well, I’m pretty good at fast-fowarding 😀
      Re. Food in refrigerator – that didn’t even occur to me tbh. But I have suspended my disbelief, anyway. Thinking about it a bit more, maybe it could be explained by the fact that this scene happens in Will’s head, and therefore everything is as it was on the day the family was killed?

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  10. Thanks for your review Guylty. I don’t know how long I will have to wait before I can see season 3 on Aus’ free to air TV. They are only just starting season 2 here! Season 3 is on pay TV which I have no intention of signing on for just for one program so I’ll be hoping for an ‘unofficial’ version to pop up somewhere on the internet soon ;o) xx.

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  11. Fascinating. I like what you said about the “mighty beast under the skin,” since he seems to aspire to be like the god he worships. You mentioned schizophrenia. In the book or show, do they make it explicit that this is his diagnosis? In real life I doubt most schizophrenics could be that focused or functional without medication. But in the world of this show, it seems that mental illness is just the starting point, a rationale for the creation of these fantasy characters, just as radiation is for many comic book superheroes.

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    • No – I don’t remember reading in the book that Dolarhyde is officially diagnosed as schizophrenic. That’s my own interpretation tbh and come to think of it, it’s probably wrong. He is not quite the Red Dragon, although he is in his head.
      Mental illness = plot device, I suppose? An easy explanation for anything (although not quite so easy when you look at Hannibal himself… seems quite sane, and yet is utterly sick).

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        • “reverse superhero” – spot on! In a way it is strange that we are “worshipping” super-flawed characters. (Ok, well, in this case it’s only because of Armitage :-D.) But I guess that is intended by the makers. We’re meant to identify with the villain to some degree, or at least empathize. In a way that is human, too.

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      • I don’t know that he has any official diagnosis, but at some point in the book, the “Francis” persona does “uncouple” from the “Red Dragon” persona, and Francis finds himself acting in defiance of The Dragon’s mandates. So whether that is more schizophrenic, multiple-personality disorder, or what… not sure, but there are definitely “two” in there.

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        • The book doesn’t have a diagnosis although doesn’t it throw around the terms sociopath / psychopath? (too lazy to go back and look). The split does point, as you say, to “multiple personality disorder,” which is a dissociative disorder, and not schizophrenia, but of course we don’t really know that that is a thing anymore, since a lot of people concluded that therapists were causing it, and the DSM-V has also eliminated all the subtypes of schizophrenia as not clinically differentiated. I think we’ve been saying “paranoid schizophrenic” because of the delusions (audible) and hallucinations, but it’s clear that Dolarhyde can keep it together in a way that your average schizophrenic can’t / doesn’t. If he is a psychopath or rather a sociopath, that’s a personality disorder. The sexual aspects of the killings point to a paraphilia. Obviously, more than one of these things could be present at the same time.

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          • Yeah, and with my knowledge being only very general, I think a case could be made for either psychopathy or sociopathy. If he was purely sociopathic, it seems he would have a hard time meticulously planning as he does, yet if he was truly psychopathic, how could he form the genuine attachment to Reba? He definitely seems to have at times, delusions of grandeur and hallucinations, which fit with the schizophrenia theory, and he gets pretty paranoid at times as well.

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            • There are inventories for psychopathy, still, but my understanding is that clinicians don’t like to use either term that much any more (they are looking for more specific descriptions, e.g., antisocial personality disorder, etc., and even typology of serial killers nowadays points out that the thing that unites them is the act of murdering and not so much the underlying diagnosis.) Harris, if he consulted any scholarship at all for constructing this character, was looking at stuff that is now more than 40 years old, and one of my issues with the character is that it is consistent with the political and social assumptions of the early Reagan years as much as it is with any psychological disorder that professionals observe. I’m guessing Harris put together a character that suited his purposes and we are left to diagnose him, I suppose.

              From a psychological standpoint, I think, Dolarhyde’s (potential) love for Reba (if that is what it was — that is what Fuller keeps telling us it is; Harris’ story is a little different — he suggests that Dolarhyde’s awareness of the possibility of love for Reba was a tool of resistance against the Dragon and a sort of potential path away from dissociation) sort of torches all the really consistent psychological explanations. If Dolarhyde can love in the way that Fuller / Armitage seem to suggest, he’s not a psychopath or a sociopath, because he is both clearly aware of right and wrong and capable of resisting “wrong” impulses and at least potentially capable of true human attachment. In that case his flat affect would also be a masquerade more than anything else, and he’s clearly sane and capable of responsibility — just incredibly angry and abused. If I understand it correctly most people who dissociate are not doing so at will or capable of resisting it effectively or contemplating resisting it. They may be aware it happens but mostly they are not.

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          • Interesting differences. Thanks for pointing that out. I am really not au fait with terms of psychology at all and used “schizophrenia” too loosely, I guess. But I can’t quite decide, anyway, whether he *has* a split personality or not. Is there another mind inside Dolarhyde’s head? He’s hearing the voice of the Red Dragon, does that mean he has two personalities?

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  12. I am always interested to see how you, being much more artistically bent than I am, perceive the same “artifact”. I was immediately struck by Armitage’s performance, “metamorphic” was the word that came to mind, but I have to admit that a lot of the episode hit me as rather mannered.

    My main impression of the episode as a whole was that if it was reflective of the rest of the series (which I haven’t watched) I can see why it would not have great longevity on American network television. Not because it isn’t clever or interesting or visually unique, but because I think it is very much of a niche appeal. This is a personal opinion of course, but I have almost given up on finding much that is particularly interesting on network television which, if the excessive offerings of reality shows, sitcoms, and rote cop dramas are any indication, is targeting an audience which is far less “arty” than my impression of the average Hannibal viewer. I’m kind of surprised that Fuller didn’t take this to one of the cable channels which are doing all kinds of “out of the box” original programming (The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, etc.) But maybe the lure of breaking the doldrums of network primetime was too enticing…IDK

    That said, I am totally on board to see the full Red Dragon transformation…(I even got to watch it on the 70 inch TV mostly uninterrupted!)

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    • Metamorphic is the word – although I have unfortunate associations with a giant black beetle (of the insect kind, not the car) in mind. Kafka has left scars on my soul 😦
      The episode was “mannered”, I agree. I was not even overly surprised by that (even though I say I went at it with a bit of trepidation) – it seemed logical that we’d get a bit less gore now that Hannibal is behind bars.
      I have no idea about American network television, so I take you word for it that this is a niche product. It is so easy to be misled in that respect – when one reads almost exclusively only within the fandom, it looks as if almost everyone is a fan of the show… BTW, I saw somewhere on tumblr that an INTEGRAL scene of the episode was not delivered to you US viewers: The bit where Dolarhyde lets the kimono slip over the peaches. If true, well, then that is an indication of what to expect from American network television LOL.

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      • I watched it live in prime time and I distinctly remember that scene…although it’s possible that there was some blurring of integral bits…I shall need to investigate that. (Bare male tush is not really taboo…it was a huge deal when NYPD Blue did it, but that’s 20 years ago now. )

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            • In German we call that “the wish is the father of the thought” – wishful thinking, clouding your senses 😉 Possibly. Understandably. Plus, I think that was in the trailer, anyway.

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              • IDK…it’s possible that Hulu or NBC.com streaming service truncated the scene, but I’m pretty sure I saw the whole thing in real time….a truncated image would have been weird enough that I’d remember I think.

                I wonder if certain markets might show different edits based on local censoring standards?

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            • possibly other markets may cut more, know knows. In the Uk on cable they don’t usually censor, quite the contrary (they don’t on freeview either tbh) and given that it runs here on Wed after the Sat they wouldn’t have enough time to do other edits and such. According to Fuller those will be done for the DVD. So i probably saw the same as on NBC which was blurred out cheeks 🙂 And i might add it was all already filmed so that other things would not show by mistake, backward bending and all that. But it was blurred out. Just like they blurred out the Botticelli a few weeks earlier – which i am still stunned about.
              I honestly don’t know why they blurred it as the image before which was filmed through bits of furniture pretty much showed the same, but un blurred. And nipples seem to be a nono with women but ok with men. From my point of view given that the show is anyway probably rated 15 on NBC i just don’t get what is wrong with live body parts, shrugs. It is plain stupid as fuzzy things out only attracts the eye, especially in something like this where visuals are so prominent.

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              • I think outside observers of US TV’s censorship rules have to keep in mind that the range of public opinion about network TV in the US is incredibly wide, because anyone can see it and people feel it belongs to all of us, while at the same time the average age of its viewership is quite high and those people tend toward cultural conservatism. (This becomes clear if you watch the NBC 5 pm news for any length of time.) Its core viewership isn’t aware of what’s going on outside the US (and doesn’t care, unless US troops are there), they are suspicious of elite culture (to which belongs any high cultural product that includes nudity — naked is naked in their view, whether it’s porn or Picasso), they tend toward populist political attitudes, and they are incredibly ready to complain to the FCC if something they catch, even out of the corner of their eye, doesn’t suit them. Hannibal doesn’t really belong on broadcast TV in the first place, given its proclivities (you probably heard Fuller say in San Diego that it’s astounding what NBC did let them do), and you have probably read Fuller mentioning all the jokes they are not allowed to make in the script. The network censors ahead of the FCC, to avoid hassle. Complaints over nudity in art are pretty regular fare. That violence is okay and certain kinds of nipples are allowed whereas others are not is a very standard reflection of US culture (think of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” several years ago). That may seem silly from an outsider’s standpoint, but it is typical of US culture. (I also think it’s crazy how much time German tv spends on Volksmusik and I have never understood “Wetten, daß,” but they reflect the culture of their majority viewership.) We don’t have “page three girls” either.

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                • Lol, yes Volkmusic, Heino eh 😉 you are right of course and i shouldn’t really bring up my puzzlement so much as there is nothing i can do about it really. It is just a annoyance factor, But the ew factor annoys me just as much, i’ve probably said after every time i watched it that it creeps me out and still sneaks up on me and frightens me. It is a pity some people are more frightened by nudity than violence. Shrugs. But i sometime do feel like a hypocrite whining away like this as i’ve got my remote and my off button and yet i’ve bent my own limits backwards to watch this. Fandom does strange things to a person 🙂
                  But that aside Fuller was right, it is amazing it got on stayed on NBC for as long as it did… it really belong on something like HBO or so and i suspect had that been the case they would probably have gotten more seasons out of it. Too bad for them really. Content aside having seen a recent film in cinema i can only pity the fact that big screen seldom benefits these days from such great camera work and sound as this does. I sure hope all those people get picked up to work on some amazing new work as they deserve it.
                  Oh and since we are discussing censorship (i did mean to write that post and i still hope i will) i’m sad to say when it comes down to it get get even more absurd reaction out here from public .audience enjoying artistic product. Just recently i sat through a run of a Rossini operas where people came to systematically boo the productionm during the show and the music i might add. Prejudice rears its ugly head everywhere and anytime. My bubble of safety and illusion about openness to art has certainly been burst….

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  13. This area is certainly not what I’d call cosmopolitan, but there are definitely areas of the country that are FAR more rigid about nudity et al…that might well be the case – someone watching somewhere saw a slightly different version.

    I never really thought about it, but that makes sense.

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  14. Endlich hatte ich Zeit Deine review zu lesen, toll, Du hast das ganze in jeder Hinsicht beeindruckende Erlebnis in treffende Worte gefasst, die comments habe ich jetzt allerdings nicht mehr gelesen, falls ich etwas wiederhole – sorry!
    Ich bin sehr gespannt wie sie die Geschichte weiter erzählen. Beim lesen habe ich gemerkt, dass Du das Wissen aus dem Buch (über seine Kindheit) mit verwendet hast.
    Aber wer weiss wie die Produzenten das weiter umsetzen? Wenn ich es richtig verstanden habe stammen die Zähne in der Serie von dem chinesischen dentist und nicht von der Großmutter. Und wer das Buch nicht gelesen hat wird Probleme beim Verständnis mit den “Stimmen im Kopf” und dem Hintergrundverständins haben. Im Film (vielleicht täusche ich mich) hatte ich den Eindruck, dass die Zähne, das Tattoo, der “Wahnsinn” in einem sehr engen Zeitraum liegen. Im Buch zeiht es sich ja doch über Jahre hin. Ich gehe davon aus, dass die Historie (der Serie) in den nächsten Folgen noch detaillierter erklärt wird. Die Geschichte habe ich noch nicht wirklich verstanden, da gab es ja die Asiatin, die Hannibal schon ein paarmal gerettet hat, bin gespannt ob sie wieder auftaucht und warum sie die Festnahme nicht verhindert hat.
    Beim Ansehen durchläuft man die ganze scala der Gefühle, Faszination, Grauen, Mitgefühl, bei der Einstellung im Schnee wo er von Kopf bis Fuß mit Blut überzogen (ja richtig designed) ist läuft es mir kalt den Rücken runter, einfach nur furchteinflößend! Das ist für mich Horror!
    Ich habe nur die 3 Staffel von Anfang an gesehen und es fällt ja sofort auf, dass hier in Bildern geschwelgt wird. Rotes Blut läuft, wabert, gleitet über Fußböden, tropft, ein unglaubliches Schauspiel und wenn man sich vorstellt es wäre Himbeersirup ist es lange nicht mehr so eklig und man kann die Bilder genießen. Die Mahlzeiten werden zelebriert, der Wein gleitet in die Gläser, hier liebt jemand die Darstellung der Bilder…..
    insgesamt wird die Geschichte ja sehr langsam und bedächtig erzählt, sie nehmen sich viel Zeit für die einzelnen Szenen. Bin ebenfalls sehr gespannt auf die nächste Folge 🙂

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    • Nein, du wiederholst gar nichts. Jeder hat doch irgendwie einen anderen Blick auf das Ganze. Zu deinen Punkten:
      Die ganze Vorgeschichte haben sie in der Tat ziemlich verkürzt – jedenfalls was die Body(builderische) Entwicklung von Dolly angeht. Das war ja alles in dem – i.d.T. visuell sehr ansprechenden *ahem* – Vorspann abgehandelt. Für mich kam darin zu kurz, dass Dolly seine Tattoo und sein Gebiss in HongKong machen lassen hat. Das ist so auch im Buch – aber asuführlicher – beschrieben. Das Gebiss ist übrigens neu – aber auf Basis der großmütterlichen Zähne gemacht. War im Buch auch so – erst hatte er das Gebiss von Omma tatsächlich benutzt, dann aber eben eines anfertigen lassen, dass besser in seinen Mund passt. Vielleicht (wahrscheinlich! angesichts der frühkindlichen Vorgeschichte) kriegen wir ja noch Flashbacks geliefert, aber ich hätte es durchaus sinnvoll gefunden, zu erklären, dass das im Film jetzt nicht irgendein orientalischer Shop in einem amerikanischen Vorort ist, sondern tatsächlich in HongKong. Allein schon, weil dann auch schon mal klar geworden wäre, dass Dolly beim Militär war. Darauf hatte ja auch Armitage bei der Charakterisierung der Rolle Bezug genommen. So war jedenfalls nicht wirklich klar, wie du richtig sagst, dass sich der Prozess der Drachen-Werdung über Jahre hinzieht. Da war auch nicht klar genug, dass Dolly bei den ersten Trainingsszenen (untätowiert) noch ein junger Mann ist, später dann allerdings Jahre vergangen sind… Ich fände es wichtig, den langen Prozess zu visualisieren, denn immerhin bedeutet das ja auch, dass Dolly jahrelang NICHT gemordet hat, und dass nun auf einmal die Phase eintritt, in der er sich dazu in der Lage fühlt – weil Hannibal aufgetaucht ist.
      Ok, ist vielleicht auch klar, dass da ein bisschen mit Filmmaterial gespart wird. Immerhin sind Hannibal und Will im Zentrum des Geschehens. Ich hoffe, die zelebrieren nun auch die weitere Entwicklung von Dolly – v.a. im Hinblick auf die mögliche Rettung durch die Beziehung zu Reba – genauso bedächtig.

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  15. tja, ist is funny to me i have to say since i’ve been a patient viewer and worked my way through 3 seasons of it and all the gore and stomach churning involved how easy it is for Fuller to hook his pray 😉 God camera work good sound, pretty body parts and wham! You have to give it to him, don’t you? 😉
    too bad he has been treading water as of late. i’m hoping things will only improve and they will lay off the spoilers and let us just watch the show. It wasn’t a bad start but i did feel they assumed a bit too much previous knowledge from the audience and didn’t really do their best in story telling (a pet peeve of mine with the show, especially S3)R’s physical story telling however can’t be faulted 🙂

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