The fascinating character of psychiatrist, gourmand, artist, cannibal and homicidal egomaniac Hannibal Lecter was first introduced in Thomas Harris’ riveting crime thriller, Red Dragon (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $5.50):
A second family has been massacred by the terrifying serial killer the press has christened “The Tooth Fairy.”
Special Agent Jack Crawford turns to the one man who can help restart a failed investigation Will Graham. Graham is the greatest profiler the FBI ever had, but the physical and mental scars of capturing Hannibal Lecter have caused Graham to go into early retirement. Now, Graham must turn to Lecter for help.
That book was made into the Michael Mann -directed film Manhunter (R, 3.5/5 stars, closed captions available, currently priced at $2.99 to rent / $6.99 to own), and in it, Lecter is played by the wonderful Brian Cox (Troy, RED) – from IMDB:
Will Graham is a former FBI agent who recently retired to Florida with his wife Molly and their young son. Graham was a ‘profiler’; one who profiles criminal’s behavior and tries to put his mind into the minds of criminals to examine their thoughts while visiting crime scenes. Will is called out of his self-imposed retirement at the request of his former boss Jack Crawford to help the FBI catch an elusive serial killer, known to the press as the ‘Tooth Fairy’, who randomly kills whole families in their houses during nights of the full moon and leaves bite marks on his victims. To try to search for clues to get into the mind of the killer, Will has occasional meetings with Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, a charismatic but very dangerous imprisoned serial killer that Will captured years earlier which nearly drove him insane from the horrific encounter that nearly cost Will’s life. With some help and hindrance, Will races against the clock before the next full moon when the ‘Tooth Fairy’ will strike again. - Written by matt-282
Next came Harris’ novel The Silence of the Lambs (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $4.59), in which Dr. Hannibal Lecter came much more to the fore:
A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname–Buffalo Bill–is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter–Hannibal the Cannibal–who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Dr. Lecter is a former psychiatrist with a grisly history, unusual tastes, and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs–and ingenious, masterfully written book and an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.
That novel was made into the Academy Award winning film The Silence of the Lambs (R, 4.5/5 stars, closed captions available, currently priced at $2.99 to rent / $6.99 to own), where we first get to see Anthony Hopkins in the Lecter role. From IMDB:
Young FBI agent Clarice Starling is assigned to help find a missing woman to save her from a psychopathic serial killer who skins his victims. Clarice attempts to gain a better insight into the twisted mind of the killer by talking to another psychopath Hannibal Lecter, who used to be a respected psychiatrist. FBI agent Jack Crawford believes that Lecter, who is also a very powerful and clever mind manipulator, has the answers to their questions and can help locate the killer. However, Clarice must first gain Lecter’s confidence before the inmate will give away any information. - Written by Sami Al-Taher
Next came Harris’ novel Hannibal (3/5 stars, currently priced at $6.83), in which Lecter was placed at center stage for the first time in the series:
Invite Hannibal Lecter into the palace of your mind and be invited into his mind palace in turn. Note the similarities in yours and his, the high vaulted chambers of your dreams, the shadowed halls, the locked storerooms where you dare not go, the scrap of half-forgotten music, the muffled cries from behind a wall.
In one of the most eagerly anticipated literary events of the decade, Thomas Harris takes us once again into the mind of a killer, crafting a chilling portrait of insidiously evolving evil–a tour de force of psychological suspense.
Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter escaped from custody, seven years since FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling interviewed him in a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. The doctor is still at large, pursuing his own ineffable interests, savoring the scents, the essences of an unguarded world. But Starling has never forgotten her encounters with Dr. Lecter, and the metallic rasp of his seldom-used voice still sounds in her dreams.
Mason Verger remembers Dr. Lecter, too, and is obsessed with revenge. He was Dr. Lecter’s sixth victim, and he has survived to rule his own butcher’s empire. From his respirator, Verger monitors every twitch in his worldwide web. Soon he sees that to draw the doctor, he must have the most exquisite and innocent-appearing bait; he must have what Dr. Lecter likes best.
Powerful, hypnotic, utterly original, Hannibal is a dazzling feast for the imagination. Prepare to travel to hell and beyond as a master storyteller permanently alters the world you thought you knew.
In 2001 that novel was adapted into the movie Hannibal (R, 3.5/5 stars, closed captions available, currently priced at $3.99 to rent / $9.99 to own), again starring Anthony Hopkins in the title role and with Julianne Moore taking over the Clarice Starling role. From IMDB:
The continuing saga of Hannibal Lecter, the murdering cannibal. He is presently in Italy and works as a curator at a museum. Clarice Starling, the FBI agent whom he aided to apprehend a serial killer, was placed in charge of an operation but when one of her men botches it, she’s called to the mat by the Bureau. One high ranking official, Paul Krendler has it in for her. But she gets a reprieve because Mason Verger, one of Lecter’s victims who is looking to get back at Lecter for what Lecter did to him, wants to use Starling to lure him out.
When Lecter sends her a note she learns that he’s in Italy so she asks the police to keep an eye out for him. But a corrupt policeman who wants to get the reward that Verger placed on him, tells Verger where he is. But they fail to get him. Later Verger decides to frame Starling which makes Lecter return to the States. And the race to get Lecter begins. - Written by firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2002, riding the wave of Lecter’s popularity as a pop culture icon, the first Lecter novel Red Dragon was again adapted into a film, this time entitled Red Dragon (4/5 stars, closed captions available, currently priced at $3.99 to rent / $9.99 to own). In this version we get Edward Norton as Will Graham, Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dolarhyde, Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford, and the inimitable Hopkins reprises his role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. From IMDB:
3 Years after retiring from the FBI because of a near-fatal encounter with Hannibal Lecter, who was helping him catch the “Chesapeake Ripper”, only to reveal it was Hannibal himself, Will Graham is asked by his ex-partner Jack Crawford to come solve one last case – 2 slaughtered families every full moon.
They have 3 weeks until the next full moon to find the madman, but an innocent blind woman has found him first… Will Graham must risk his family’s security and his own safety to track down this one last murderer – the epitome of all evil – The Red Dragon. - Written by Andrew Tenebrae
Next came the third Lecter novel, a prequel entitled Hannibal Rising (3/5 stars, currently priced at $5.32).
HE IS ONE OF THE MOST HAUNTING CHARACTERS
IN ALL OF LITERATURE.
AT LAST THE EVOLUTION OF HIS EVIL
Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.
He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.
Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle’s beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki.
Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France.
But Hannibal’s demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn.
He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death’s prodigy.
The novel was adapted into the film, Hannibal Rising (unrated, 4/5 stars, closed captions available, currently priced at $3.99 to rent / $9.99 to own). This time French actor Gaspard Ulliel takes over the role of young Hannibal. From IMDB:
This is the story of the monster Hannibal Lecter’s formative years. These experiences as a child and young adult led to his remarkable contribution to the fields of medicine, music, painting and forensics. We begin in World War II at the medieval castle in Lithuania built by Dr. Lecter’s forebear, Hannibal the Grim. The child Hannibal survives the horrors of the Eastern Front and escapes the grim Soviet aftermath to find refuge in France with the widow of his uncle, mysterious and beautiful Japanese Lady Murasaki Shikibu, author of the Tale of Genji.
Her kind and wise attentions help him understand his unbearable recollections of the war. Remembering, he finds the means to visit the outlaw predators that changed him forever as they battened on helpless during the collapse of the Eastern Front. Hannibal helps these war criminals toward self-knowledge even as we see his own nature become clear to him. - Written by Bloody-Disgusting.com
This brings us to the latest incarnation of Hannibal Lecter, in the TV series Hannibal (TV-14, 4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $1.99 per episode / $14.99 to own the first season in SD, $2.99 per episode / $19.99 to own the first season in HD, $1.99 per episode / $21.99 to own the second season in SD, $2.99 per episode / $29.99 to own the second season in HD). Note that the first season of the show is currently free for Amazon Prime members to view.
In this show, we get Hugh Dancy in the role of Will Graham, Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, and Mads Mikkelson in the title role.
Explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.