Is Falling for Francis Dolarhyde Out of the Question?

dolarhyde2

I’ve finished Red Dragon, and it’s provided much insight into the potential greatness of the character of Francis Dolarhyde in Richard Armitage’s very capable hands. The series Hannibal on NBC creates a very different atmosphere than anything I’ve yet seen Richard do, and this is likely to be his darkest role yet. However, aside from his psychopathic tendencies, in many ways, the character of Francis Dolarhyde is not completely different from characters that Armitage has portrayed in the past.

He’s tortured and conflicted.

He’s sick in the mind and soul.

He’s crafty and devious.

He’s capable of great atrocities.

He seeks transformative glory.

He’s capable of finer feelings.

He’s capable of grand and even tenderly romantic gestures.

He’s at war within himself.

He seeks redemption, but ultimately fails.

Sounds a bit familiar, right? Based on comments about the character that I have read, I was not alone in my unsettling feelings for Francis Dolarhyde. I never grew to trust him, and many of his actions and thought patterns horrified me. At the same time, I felt that I could at least begin to understand him, and I felt the ability to empathize with him on his journey. Although I knew that the depth of his mental illness, and the atrocious nature of his sins would ultimately make him irredeemable, there were still times when I had the hopeless desire to see him find reprieve from his demons and escape the madness that consumed him. This character has been one of the most memorable and richly drawn villains of the crime genre for me, and he’s all the more frightening because of the unpredictability of his emotional responses and his conflicting desires.

If I know one thing about Richard Armitage, it’s that he knows how to portray inner conflict and how to elicit sympathy from his audience no matter where the script takes him. This particular character will give him the opportunity to explore much more than just a methodical serial killer. He will be able to explore the themes of self-loathing and simultaneously emerging delusions of grandeur and narcissism, which is one very interesting aspect of the character’s pathology: the attempt to leave behind the fearful, pathetic and powerless “Cunt-Face” by virtue of Becoming the all-powerful, fearsome “Red Dragon”. He will be able to explore what happens to that dynamic when a woman enters the picture, and he experiences for the first time the attentions of a woman who is frankly appreciative, and kind. He will be able to tackle the portrayal of a schizophrenic un-coupling of the character’s diverging personalities into Francis Dolarhyde, who finds himself bewildered, in love, and desirous of protecting what he knows is precious in Reba, and The Red Dragon, who believes she represents only weakness, and demands to devour her.

I really can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

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19 comments

  1. sparkhouse1 · February 9, 2015

    Awesome, that’s it exactly! I can hardly wait too.

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    • jholland · February 10, 2015

      I have no idea how closely they’ll follow the source material, but there is a lot of great stuff to work with… so much potential! I admit I think I’ll be disappointed if they don’t make me at least be tempted to fall for Dolarhyde… that’s what makes him so scary!

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  2. jazzbaby1 · February 9, 2015

    I read the book a long time ago so I wasn’t imagining RA in the role and I was a bit too young to really get his redemption conflict. Dolarhyde was terrifying. Richard is perfect for this.

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    • jholland · February 10, 2015

      I agree on both counts- he was terrifying, and RA has what it takes to capture the conflict that’s so compelling in the character. I hope the Hannibal writers had this very idea in mind when they cast him!

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  3. MargotMat · February 10, 2015

    I haven’t read the novel but I watched recently the movie. Ralph Fiennes’s FD was moving but would I fall for him? No. He scared me. Like you I couldn’t trust him and was on the edge of my (arm)chair.
    “Tortured and conflicted”, “capable of grand and even tenderly romantic gestures”… I do wonder about RA portrayal of Francis Dolarhyde since I find Guy of Gisborne (a killer too, though of a minor caliber) really endearing, regardless of his looks (or so I think).

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    • jholland · February 10, 2015

      Yes! Mainly Guy of Gisborne and to some degree Lucas/John were in my mind when I made that list. I thought FD’s idea to take Reba to “see” the Tiger was an incredibly unique and romantic gesture, even though there were undertones of displaced sexual desire in the scene. And though it was certainly a disturbing thought process that led him to the Brooklyn museum, I couldn’t help but see that as a very grand gesture, as well. I guess I need to watch Ralph Fiennes in the role… if he was both endearing and terrifying, then I’d say he captured the book’s essence pretty well. I have great expectations for RA… I know he’s more than capable of giving a nuanced performance for a complex character that will both attract and repel us!

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  4. suzy · February 10, 2015

    I have a problem with the cruelty of the red dragon, this is a new aspect….. but we will see 😉

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    • jholland · February 10, 2015

      Yes, I do, too. But what I love about the character is the grey areas- he’s not portrayed as pure evil… even though his cruelty is evil, there are other depths to him that drew me in, despite myself. I rarely sympathize at all with a villain of this magnitude, so it’s refreshing and of course, fascinating to ponder what the simple fact of RA’s involvement will do for me.

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      • suzy · February 10, 2015

        Yes, I´m very curious how they will create the character: evil, cruel, diabolic, comprehensible, with a strong/weak character…. 🙂

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  5. Hariclea · February 11, 2015

    Hm .. falling for him, not sure actually.. Reba is blind and what attracts her to him as mostly the fact that she doesn’t get the same reactions from him as everybody else. I read through those passages with a lot fo fear as everything could go wrong at any minute. But i did sympathise or at least understand how he became what he is. And you wish he had experienced something he has with Reba earlier on as it might have prevented some of the killing maybe.. There are certain scenes which i’d love to see acted and i imagine they won’t be easy 🙂 His inner conflicts are interesting and fascinating and i hope they will allow focus on them. But they don’t always follow the literary material so we’ll have to wait and see. I did feel that the book left a lot of things only half explained or that they could have gone further, especially with Dolarhyde, so we’ll see if they manage to provide a more complete journey or if RA will be allowed to do that.

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    • jholland · February 11, 2015

      Yes… one would hope that in casting an actor of such high caliber, they’re going to make the most of it and really make Dolarhyde central to the latter part of the season… how could they not take advantage of that? I know what you’re saying… I don’t think anyone is going to go head over heels, but I do at least hope we’re sort of pulled in that direction.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariclea · February 11, 2015

        i liked feeling a bit of sympathy towards the character (even though the story is as much about Will for me, perhaps because i liked his character in S1 of H too). But i hope they don’t make Dolarhyde secondary and keep too much Lecter in although it does sound like they want to keep that going. Many open questions. But i desperately want him to act the scene SPOILERS!!! where he splits from the Dragon and lives that conflict out 🙂 I just know he can do so much with that and would probably enjoy acting it 🙂

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        • jholland · February 11, 2015

          Yes! That aspect of him splitting into 2 personalities was fantastic, and I truly hope they’ll take him there in the script. I still hope to see some Hannibal Lecter… if it goes as I think it will go, he may be captured by the time Dolarhyde comes on the scene, which makes me a little sad because I kind of hope for a scene with Mads and Richard together… =)

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        • Hariclea · February 11, 2015

          yeah he’ll be in prison , that’s what they spend the first part of the season doing and nope i’m afraid correspondence is all they’ll have which is fine by me 😉 however fascinating Mads is as the character i just hate the character itself 😉

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  6. Servetus · February 13, 2015

    I’ve read about 100 pp. now and am really struggling to keep reading. Sigh. Oh well. Onward.

    Like

    • jholland · February 13, 2015

      Since I listened to the audio version, I don’t know how far into the story 100 pages is… what’s your struggle… too disturbing? Or find it boring?

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      • Servetus · February 14, 2015

        not well written, more sexist than the things I usually let myself read, horrifying. Although I got to the beginning of another ch. right after this (sorry, I dont’ remember which one), and there was another intriguing moment. Grrrr.

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        • jholland · February 14, 2015

          I do hope you’ll blog about your struggle as well as the intriguing moments. I enjoyed it… narration was really well done. Didn’t notice anything poorly written about it, which is one of the things great narration can do… vice versa applies of course. Poor narration can ruin terrific books.

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        • Servetus · February 15, 2015

          I’m almost done now — maybe another 40 pp. left — so maybe I’ll blog about it then. I do think it’s written in a style that makes it an almost ideal audiobook.

          Liked by 1 person

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