This morning I started the audiobook The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. So far, I’m really enjoying the narrator’s performance, and the story itself drew me in immediately. However, I had to take a break and consult YouTube when I got to Chapter 9. This is the chapter when we are first introduced to Francis Dolarhyde’s point of view, and it certainly offered some food for the imagination. From what I had read about the character Richard Armitage will be playing prior to today, I had a developed a very different image of him in my head than the image I now have. Up until now, I was imagining a shy man with a mild speech impediment and congenital cleft lip. I certainly didn’t imagine there would be any elements of dance performance involved! Here’s the excerpt (spoilers, obviously) from the chapter, in which Francis Dolarhyde is at home, watching his own, terrifying home-made video. The phrases that really drew my attention are in bold:
* * *
“Dolarhyde came into the picture from the left with the stylized movements of a Balinese dancer. Blood-smeared and naked except for his glasses and gloves, he mugged and capered among the dead. He approached the far side of the bed, Mrs. Leeds’s side, took the corner of the covers, whipped them off the bed and held the pose as though he had executed a Veronica.
Now, watching in the parlor of his grandparents’ house, Dolarhyde was covered with a sheen of sweat. His thick tongue ran out constantly, the scar on his upper lip wet and shiny and he moaned as he stimulated himself.
Even at the height of his pleasure he was sorry to see that in the film’s ensuing scene he lost all his grace and elegance of motion, rooting piglike with his bottom turned carelessly to the camera. There were no dramatic pauses, no sense of pace or climax, just brutish frenzy.
It was wonderful anyway. Watching the film was wonderful. But not as wonderful as the acts themselves.
Two major flaws, Dolarhyde felt, were that the film did not actually show the deaths of the Leedses and that his own performance was poor toward the end. He seemed to lose all his values. That was not how the Red Dragon would do it.
Well. He had many films to make and, with experience, he hoped he could maintain some aesthetic distance, even in the most intimate moments.
He must bear down. This was his life’s work, a magnificent thing. It would live forever.
He must press on soon. He must select his fellow performers.“
* * *
It’s creepy as hell, and I found myself quite curious as to whether the Hannibal writers plan to incorporate this “performance aspect” into their version of Francis Dolarhyde. I immediately consulted YouTube to see exactly what the “stylized movements of a Balinese dancer” might look like, and was completely wowed when I saw the clips. Obviously, we have no way of knowing whether Richard Armitage will be exploring this aspect of the character, but it’s providing me with a lot of interesting images in my head, imagining Richard Armitage
nakedly capering in some stylized kill scene….
Oh, and I had to look up what was meant by “executed a Veronica”… I think the only definition that made sense in the context was a bullfighting pass in which the matador slowly swings the cape away from the charging bull.
Oh, the possibilities…