Yesterday was really kind of thrilling. I happened to be “Richarding” online when a barrage of news about his casting as Francis Dolarhyde in the NBC series Hannibal appeared suddenly on Twitter, forums and feed. It was really quite exhilarating to be a part of it! I’ve been just a little down, not really knowing when Sleepwalker, Urban and the Shed Crew, Pilgrimage, or even the digital download of The Crucible would be available, so this news of a recurring role in an ongoing television series right here in the US, expected to air in just a few months later this spring, was very welcome news, indeed. I’ll be curious to find out what the “Fannibals” (the apparently fervent Hannibal fandom) think of the casting announcement.
I almost immediately downloaded the Audible version of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon while simultaneously checking availability on either of my two streaming services for the television series. Turns out season 1 of Hannibal is available on Amazon Prime, which means I get it for free, and season 2 is available to rent or buy the episodes. I haven’t started the audiobook, but last night, after the kids were in bed, Hubby and I streamed the first two episodes of Hannibal, and after watching the first 10 minutes, Hubby got up, left the room, and returned with a Scotch for fortification.
Yeah. It was disturbing. I don’t think he was all that impressed, but he didn’t say he was going to stop watching. He merely said, “I like spending time with you.” Hubby is not against the genre of serial killer/murder/detective mysteries per se, but he opted out of True Detective, The Fall, and Fargo (three shows I love) because he doesn’t like the disturbing dreams he has when he gets invested in these type of shows. We generally do have similar taste in television, enjoying Vikings, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Strike Back, and Sherlock together, but he tends to tolerate violence better when it is presented in more of a combat or battle situation, rather than a psychological thriller.
I have long been fascinated with the psychological phenomenon of serial killers, and more drawn to fiction and film that depicts them realistically (ie, minus the gore-fest style horror genre of Freddy Krueger, etc., which is not at all my thing) so I was pretty sure, after reading the critical acclaim and scanning viewer comments, that Hannibal was going to be a show I might just grow to love, irrespective of Richard Armitage’s involvement. After viewing the first 2 episodes, the jury is still out on whether my initial impression was correct. I was most definitely uncomfortable with the imagery of the first two episodes, and from what I’ve read about the series, that was nothing in comparison to what will come later, in the second season. I did think that stylistically, the show is very different from anything I’ve seen Armitage do, and it will be fascinating to watch not only his portrayal of the sick fiend that is Francis Dolarhyde, but the incorporation of Armitage into the overall composition and feel of this series is going to be completely new and different.
Mild spoilers beyond this point.
The cinematography and the tone are darkly sophisticated and compelling, and I was very impressed with my introduction to the characters of sinister psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), and autistic-spectrum, emotionally fragile empath Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), both of whom consult for the FBI as criminal profilers on serial murder cases early in the series. I am curious to see where their relationship leads, as it appears that Dr. Lecter is moving in the direction of becoming Will’s therapist, and will endeavor to get inside his head. The food styling is both beautiful and disturbing. Every time Dr. Lecter sat down to a beautifully plated gourmet meal prepared in his home, with the classical music in the background, I literally squirmed and shuddered. So far, the style of the murders has been- shall we say- creative in the extreme, almost to the point where it defies scientific rationalization, which in some ways makes the subject matter more palatable (excuse the pun) because it does give an impression of sadistic artwork. Not that sadistic artwork has ever been a personal interest of mine, but the imagery is truly so horrific that in some ways, it doesn’t feel real. Rather, it feels surreal, and I’m not sure why this carefully crafted version of horror works for me.
I have a knowing, inside, that this type of film might alter me, and my perception of Richard Armitage, in ways I’m really not comfortable with. I honestly don’t know how someone who approaches his craft like Richard does is going to cope with what he has to do, become, embrace.
I’m going to keep watching, but I predict that there will be many an Armitage admirer who can’t watch, or won’t.