In Defense of “Hannibal”


Okay. I have kept my mouth closed in regards to how many around here seem to hate the ending of the Hannibal novel. It’s very much obvious that my Hannibal and I are fans of it. Whether or not you agree/disagree on the fact they should be together or not, it’s obvious that our followers know we support the pairing.

So that said, I needed to get the following out. And no, I’m not going to bother putting it under a read more. Unfollow if you must, I hardly ever make OOC posts on here.

I’ve read a lot about the films. I’ve read a lot about the novels. I saw The Silence of the Lambs when I was probably too young to watch it, but more recently I have become a bigger fan when my Hannibal here asked me to come on as her RP partner and take up Clarice.

This was no easy task for me. I take careful consideration into how I portray characters, even if it’s as something as simple as roleplaying. To make a long story short: I worked my ass off on doing my research for Clarice. I read the novels. I have a notebook of handwritten notes. I expanded upon my notes. I’ve had long indepth discussions with my Hannibal. I’ve read books and essays that relate to Thomas Harris’ novels. I know my shit.

And nothing upsets me more when I hear people tear down the Hannibal novel.

I won’t go into the specifics of why I hate the Hannibal film or why I don’t care for Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Clarice – those will be saved for a later day if I feel like venturing into that field. This is in response to this post, as it pretty much summarizes the thoughts that I have seen and until this point disregarded here on Tumblr. This will be in response to the last ten minutes of the film, followed by what my research says about Jodie Foster’s declining the film.

First, yes, it does take a different route. Clarice is seen as a fighter that is supposed to hold a candle to the first film. The real problem lies in the way the entire dinner scene was orchestrated, thanks largely in part to our dear friend, Ridley Scott. The dinner scene was full of symbolism.  We have the theme of freedom from the novel, we have the presence of Paul (the apostle), and we can even relate this to Dante’s Inferno. 

In the novel this is an important scene because Paul represents “aggressive male sexuality and its relationship to institutional powers,” just as Chilton did in the first novel (Mesent 26). We see here that cannibalism is taking place in the act of communion, one that calls back into Clarice’s connection with that of Christ that is echoed throughout the two novels. It is another taboo that Clarice effectively breaks with Hannibal and “release[s] her from repressive and corrupt authority… marked by her heterosexual relationship with Lecter – at one remove from the lack of opportunities, injustices and misogynies of life in the normative American social and professional world” (Mesent 26). At this point too we have to remember that she has lost faith in the FBI from the injustices that she had to face (solidified when she shot the officer using Brigham’s gun at Verger’s farm - she found “liberation in her rebellion” (Simpson 63) – “she was not quite herself, and she was glad” (Harris 398).) We also have the bow that Hannibal releases onto Krendler, the sound in itself a symbolism as a reminder to what Clarice had found.

Then we have the chapter 101. As Clarice was freed in the previous chapter, now we have Hannibal’s freedom. “What Clarice does in the scene described is… to re-create Lecter that original form of (cannibal) satisfaction… repairing the gap between self and other, self and world” (Mesent 27) Hannibal realizes two things here: Clarice’s personality is too strong to be influenced in drugs (“many windows in her mind aligned” (Harris 536)) and that the teacup truly won’t come together again. He cannot make Clarice Mischa. Clarice is “allowing Lecter to remember his dismembered self, curing him by making him whole” (Mesent 28). She has “transformed from a passive victim to active aggressor” and “redeems Lecter” by offering her breast to him (Simpson 58).

Now in the film, we see that Hannibal has effectively numbed up Clarice by pain medicine, with no attempt to delve into her psyche and attempt to figure out the stubborn knots of her personality. That ENTIRE theme is not presented. Instead we are left with Clarice baring witness to Paul Krendler eating his own brains. Yes, that paints a lovely picture of Hannibal Lecter. Then we are brought to the tussle in the kitchen. It was clear from the previous scene that movie!Clarice would only take away his freedom and that’s what she is attempting to do here. Hannibal overpowers her, they share a very stale kiss, and then he is cuffed to her.

Hannibal would have taken Clarice. He has gotten her this far. Why would a doctor cut off his own hand? While we know he would do anything to maintain his freedom, there is some peace knowing that he wouldn’t kill Clarice in the film in order to maintain it. But even Hannibal is so horribly out of character in this section of the film. Some seem to pinpoint Clarice’s actions in the novel as out of character, and as a result seem to overshadow this event in the film, an odd parallel to how most audience members feel about these two powerful characters.

Perhaps the question I ask most people when they say that they hated the end of Hannibal is: Did you expect it to end in any other way? Did you really see Clarice leading a happy ending life? Did you really see Hannibal losing his life or going back into custody? Sound questions, ones that have made some consider for a moment that perhaps the ending of the novel was a “logical conclusion” but still something that went unsatisfied by many readers.  Heroes don’t always win.

“It would be naïve to not only desire the character remain the same, but for her to retain the innocent, wet-behind-the-ears nature that made the character famous in The Silence of the Lambs” (Szumskyj 209).

They do not simply “hook up.” There are many things that lead up to the end of the Hannibal novel that go plainly unlooked by readers, simply because they A: oversaw the themes/symbols for it happening, or B: they thought the characters were out of character anyway.

“Clarice’s path was realistic, suffocation within an organization, unlucky in love, faced with favoritism, nepotism, egotism and illogical politics… Though drugged and hypnotized, she may have been disoriented, but beneath the surface her worldview, her hatreds, and her soul are the same” (Szumskyj 209).

To make my points more concise, I’ll finish this up with some bullet points:

  • It is clear that this series is more of a Gothic Romance than anything else. This is what makes Thomas Harris such a unique writer in today’s modern literature. He never judges the actions of Dr. Lecter, just as he never judged the actions of Will when he brings up Shiloh. He doesn’t go with the cliché FBI investigator’s live, murderers die or are locked away. Hannibal Lecter remains a free man at the end. And Clarice Starling is no longer an agent, nor does she no longer have to answer to society or belong to it (Simpson 47).
  • What made Clarice so appealing to Hannibal from the start was that one: she did not shy away from his verbal abuse (like Will does). She is strong and brave, patient and passes all of his tests (that of verbal abuse, patience, his anagrams, etc). And two: they were already on the same plane of understanding as they both speak “the language of human psychology” (Goodrich 40).
  • Hannibal branded her since The Silence of the Lambs. Examples start from the way she reacts to Chilton when he told her he had a ticket to Holiday on Ice. “Her head-tilt is reminiscent of a similar movement Dr. Lecter makes” (Goodrich 43).  Dr Lecter “tilts [his head] as he asks a question, as though he were screwing an auger of curiosity into your face” (Harris 65).  He has become her mentor. She tailors her language after their first meeting. He corrects her (such as when she finds Miss Mofet – she states she’s found a person, he corrects her in saying she only found a head.) She acknowledges his corrections; she respects his intelligence and intellect. She treats him as a human, rather than a monster or an object. There’s a student/teacher dynamic during their meetings in the dungeon, although by their meeting in Memphis they see each other as equals. Hannibal has taken an interest in Clarice, he begins to mold her. In turn, Clarice is receptive to this, foreshadowing even in The Silence of the Lambs of her imitation and even understanding of him, even if she is not exactly prepared for her eventual fate with him just yet.
  • As an individual, Hannibal is forced to teach. He is forced to create. And that is what he does to Clarice off of the basis of human need of companionship. “He must make someone” (Goodrich 47). If Clarice is worthy enough to take the place of Mischa, then she is worthy enough to take the place at his side.
  • In the same tone, she has already become isolated from her male mentors before. This was seen from the start of Hannibal with the death of Brigham and the unpowerful Crawford (Waugh 58) This truly only leaves Hannibal, creating more of a foreshadowing as to who she can believe in and turn to.
  •  “Clarice seems to have been fashioned by Lecter for the part she now plays” but at the same time, she “exercise[s] some authority and responsibility for what occurs,” especially in chapter 101 (Mesent 28). Hannibal wonders if she’s hiding a gun under her dress, he still cannot completely predict her. She is “both herself and not herself” (Harris 448).  A little more about the Electra Complex was noted here.

Lastly, there seems to be a drastic misunderstanding as to why Jodie Foster decided to decline involvement in the movie.

Jodie Foster WAS interested. She made it very clear when a sequel was in talks that she was interested: ”Anthony Hopkins always talks about it. I mean, everybody wants to do it. Every time I see him, it’s like when is it going to happen? When is it going to happen?’” (“Killer Instinct”) The interest waned when Harris sent Hopkins, Demme and Foster his first manuscript of the novel but no one opted out yet. There are so many different ideas floating about without proper sources that it’s extremely hard to peg down exactly why she declined. Her official stance was: “The official reason I didn’t do Hannibal is I was doing another movie, Flora Plum. So I get to say, in a nice dignified way, that I wasn’t available when that movie was being shot” (“The Total Film Interview”).

What unsettles me is that the studio was never going to be completely fair to the novel to begin with. The first production draft can be found here. Also on the DVD extras we see an alternate ending and on the director’s commentary we hear another idea of Scott’s.

Most of the trouble lied in the studio itself. Orion was going under bankruptcy, leaving a number of different studios up in the air wanting rights for the film. Demme announced around mid-May 1999 (BEFORE the book was even published) that he would not have involvement in the movie, but both Hopkins and Foster stuck around until the novel was completed (O’Brien 160).

Demme had issues with both the novel and the script, knowing it wouldn’t be able to “recapture the potency of the original” and he had some concern working with producer Dino De Laurentiis (O’Brien 161). In the same light, Ted Tally declined without reason, citing that he owed much to Harris (“Killer Instinct”).

A new director had to be found (make way for Ridley Scott) and even after the production team came together (complete with veterans who had worked with Scott before) Foster was still iffy about the project.

In September 9, 1999, the first draft screenplay was presented and had already made changes to the novel. It’s cited that this is when Hopkins signed onto the film, Foster noting it as “too grisly” (O’Brien 166).  The script was rewritten into a production draft on February 9, 2000 after a process of finding a new script writer and was finally green lit. Obviously, still very much changed from the novel, mostly because of the studio, though there is strong blame on Scott’s part: “I just don’t buy these two going off together, even with Clarice under the influence” (O’Brien 168). Obviously he didn’t get the point of the novel either. But, upon completion the final script, this is when Jodie Foster declined involvement.

Her reasons may have been because Hannibal “betrayed the essence of Clarice Starling” and “the original movie worked because people believed in Clarice’s heroism. I won’t play her with negative attributes she would never have” which yes, absolutely breaks my heart because of the above (O’Brien 168). But there were many different factors. She never turned it down flat. Money (reportedly she was offered less than Hopkins), other commitments (Flora Plum), and a script she didn’t agree with. She didn’t decline after she read the novel. She declined after reading the final production script. Of course, this left a huge gaping hole for Universal, who had to now find a new Clarice.

Of course I realize that I am not explaining everything as thoroughly as possible due to my personal time constraints. There are loads of items in Hannibal that further strengthen Clarice’s connection to Hannibal (such as her following the advice of his letter, her need to be in the FBI because of her father, etc) but I wanted to get out what I could, in hopes that maybe it’ll shed some light for those who don’t agree with the ending of the novel without completely sound reasoning. Not to mention Jodie Foster’s ultimate decision to turn down the role.

Any questions/rebuttals/concerns, please feel free to send an ask/reblog/whatever. Though understand I may not be able to reply right away. Read more cuts to sources.

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From Deconstructing Hannibal - #DHannibal

Hannibal chapters 1 & 2 prompt

Seven years later….

Clarice is now an FBI agent. These first two chapters serve to reintroduce us to this character and they also serve as a window into her new reality.

What are your thoughts on her current situation inside the Bureau?

I think she has reached an increased level of competence as a representative of the law, but this has not increased her standing inside the Bureau.  She is an outsider, albeit a useful one, to everyone except those who know her well enough to value her, e.g. John Brigham. She felt “pierced and lonesome in this…van crowded with men.” (p. 7) Even Brigham’s attempts to defend her capability by boasting about her success on the gun range leaves her vulnerable to their disrespect as she is forced to admit to the title of “Poison Oakley”. The tone of this exchange always struck me as somewhat humiliating to her, although he is trying to compliment her. 

Can you notice any differences between the “old” Starling and this “new” one? If yes, which ones?

I know the difference in her character is often pointed out as a flaw in the book, but I disagree. The distance between 25-ish and 32 is quite a significant one and brings many changes to everyone’s personality. In her case, the book notes: “There was a time when Starling would have deferred to these men. Now they didn’t like what she was saying, and she had seen too much to care.” (pg 6) 

I think she has lost that trace of self-doubt that sometimes held her back from speaking her mind in SOTL.  She is cynical enough not to expect the respect of the other agents in the van, but she is seasoned enough to demand their attention when their safety is on the line. This is not the same woman who used persuasion to get the local police to leave the room  at the mortuary in SOTL.

One thing that struck me was that just after the Poison Oakely exchange Clarice conjures up a tableau of her father, something Lecter had asked her about in SOTL and about which she had denied all knowledge.

“I don’t ask, but somebody at Buzzard’s Point hates you, I think.” Brigham asks Clarice. It’s too early in the game to say, but why would anybody have anything against Clarice?

It is quite clear throughout the interaction in the van that Clarice is not seen as a colleague. Brigham gives her a high-five, but the rest simply challenge her - questioning her about her side arm, etc. I think that she makes it obvious that she is there to do her job correctly, not to make new friends. As quoted above, she will not defer to them, and there is nothing wrong with this, but it is obvious that this attitude is something that she will be blamed for — a classic criticism of competent women. 

And finally, do you think Clarice cries only because of the death of her former gunnery instructor, John Brigham?

I think she is crying for Brigham certainly, but I also believe there is grief over the palpable foreshadowing of some great change.  Her dead-end career has led her to an incident that looks set to change her life forever.

The scene in the laundry always brings to mind some strange image of a  sort of rebirth. Crouched next to the “throb and sloshes” of the washing machine, I thought there was almost a womb-like atmosphere. The  ritual-ish feel of her stripping brought to mind some sort of emotional reset. She has not showered and although she is wrapped in a towel she is still covered in blood and dirt and her hands are dirty. But although there is a metaphor of rebirth here, Starling is not an innocent any longer (particularly in her own mind) and this, I think, is part of her grief.

The hand was shapely, she noted, and the middle finger perfectly replicated. It is the rarest form of polydactyly.

Harris, Thomas (2009-12-28). The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lecter) (Kindle Location 501). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition. 
Photo courtesy of Fringe Wikia

The hand was shapely, she noted, and the middle finger perfectly replicated. It is the rarest form of polydactyly.

Harris, Thomas (2009-12-28). The Silence of the Lambs (Hannibal Lecter) (Kindle Location 501). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition. 

Photo courtesy of Fringe Wikia

charlesdances said: Your love for the whole Lecter!Verse is brilliant! Particularly your love for Clarice. I certainly can't put my love for her as eloquently as you can! XD Anyways seeing Clarice made me think again of why Hannibal deems her so differently to others (among other reasons). And then it hit me... She stares into the abyss, and when it looks back at her... she doesn't blink.


Yesss. She sees him and she doesn’t look away. I always come back to the moment in Silence (the film) where Clarice matter of factly says to Lecter about his victims “No, you ate yours” and I think it captures how she sees he is a monster but will never be intimidated by him. In fact, she challenges him. She pushes back. Draws herself further into the abyss.

Also, I think they connect because they are two “lost” orphans and Lecter sees a kindred spirit in Clarice, perhaps echoes of his sister or perhaps he sees a bit of himself, but inherently these two people see themselves as unattached to the world. There is nothing, a family or relationships, that tether them to a community and they are loners.

Lecter took this and ran with it, fostering a personality that sees most people as little more than cattle. Starling joined the FBI, I think, to tie herself more to her father but also to create a community/family for herself through work. And this why I love that in Hannibal (the film, can’t remember if this happens explicitly in the book), Lecter explicitly calls out the FBI’s rejection of her. This family you loved so much doesn’t even want you … but I do. We will be forever misfits, forever orphans. And I think that is why their relationship is so intriguing on so many levels .. not just as hunter and hunted, not just as a tale of two minds of equal sharpness, not just a tale of two lonely souls who connect … they see each other and see all of each other and don’t turn away.



ah yes, hannibal lecter’s classic outfit

Tags: Why... Why. Why?

Clannibal Fanfic Rec List - REVISED


New stories are marked ***

Re-reading might have been involved in the revision of this list, as well as remembering to change’s rating filter to ‘all ratings’.


AU, Crack & Crossovers:

***Following the Plan by apckrfan, AU - While still studying at UVA, Clarice meets Will Graham. They fall in love and break up over the first few chapters of this 11 chapter fic until, eventually, she meets someone new — yes, that someone. An interesting look at our old friends with that sobering dose of realism that makes apckrfan’s stories so interesting.

***Phone Calls by Yesterday’s Dreams, AU A brand new story from an author with two already existing high-quality WIP’s. I was totally surprised by the ending, and thoroughly enjoyed the journey. Very clever and a brand new take on our old friends. 

 ***What the Heart Wants by Fireboltpatronus21818, AU - A kidfic, but she’s a baby, so it’s not much of an annoyance. An interesting and plot-heavy fic bookended by two  well-written NSFW scenes. Whew!

Precession by Glimmerdark, AU - Crossover with Twin Peaks. This story is a first rate blending of both ‘verses with a rich emotional payoff at the end. Recommended

The Eyes of A Lamb by RazzMcazz, A Clannibal and Hannibal(tv) AU - This story cries out for editing but, even without, it remains a surprisingly powerful and memorable story.  This author absolutely knows how to tell a gripping tale.

Sterling Fire by Aine Deande, AU Based on a what-if scenario - ‘What if Dr Lecter rejected Clarice’s offer in Chapter 101?’ Short and intense.

A Meeting of Malice by Nyx Fixx, Brilliant Crack fic. - Dr Lecter needs to answer charges brought against him by the Monster Association of Literary Icons and Cinematic Evil. Laugh-out loud brilliance.

Inside the Character’s Studio by Catherine,  Crack fic. - What happens when you try to direct such willful characters in the infamous dinner scene?

Breaking Free by BookishGal, AU -  In the first part of her fantastic trilogy Clarice decides to visit Dr Lecter after his escape from Memphis fails. Their relationship develops throughout this piece in a satisfying slow build up. It is quite a ride, and something that I have definitely read with great pleasure more than once. Recommended 

Playing House by BookishGal, AU - In part two Clarice goes to visit Dr Lecter in Austria for a week as they try to work out the boundaries of their relationship and move forwards. Again this has such a great slow burn, there are passionate moments definitely, but its primarily all about the characters, their motivations and their desires. Recommended 

Finding Peace by BookishGal, AU - In the final part in her trilogy Clarice and Dr Lecter deal with the ramifications of Clarice’s life-threatening injury. My favorite of the trilogy, I think, although I love them all. Recommended 

Straight up Clannibal:

***On the Poet’s Pages by Only a Seamstress, Read this. Poetic, literate and clever, this one-shot starts in the aftermath of Chapter 101. The author deftly juggles poetry and allusion and our very complicated pair so very well. This one stayed with me. Leave a review if you like it, Only a Seamstress deserves more accolades. Highly Recommended. 

***Dinner Companion by apckrfan,  What happens after they host a dinner party? Well, read this and find out. It definitely earns its M rating.  

***Possessed by Light by tore-my-yellow-dress, I’ll just leave you with the intriguing first line of this fantastic one shot: “The first time Clarice Starling tastes human flesh, she is thirty-six years old.” 

***He Woke Her Then by Lornesgoldenhair, Another what-happened-after-Hannibal-the-movie fic but it is very well handled and the slow build up is enjoyable and clever. 

Tell me a Secret by Kalabangsilver,  Dr Lecter answers a few questions from a certain FBI agent. 10 secrets are shared by Dr Lecter as he lets Clarice delve into his psyche. In the process, we get a rare and believable glimpse into their intimacy. Recommended.

Paper Trails by Kalabangsilver, A 70 chapter fic that shows Lecter and Clarice dealing with unexpected events, a return to the US and even his capture by the FBI. An intricate plot and wonderful characterizations make the chapters fly by. Recommended.

Scent of Saffron by Nyx Fixx, A one shot that follows the book ending. Clarice and Lecter engage in some sexual play on that infamous Argentinian balcony, on one of those nights when they don’t finish dinner. The closing sentences are some of the best Clannibal writing I have had the pleasure to read. Recommended

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Done with Hannibal, and oh my God.

Agaisnt popular opinion on the series, this has become my favorite volume. I actually LOVED the finale. I’m all for happy endings specially when they come in such a gory package.
Some development on the character of Dr. Lecter was iffy, but…


My favourite Hannibal Lecter is Hannibal Lecter.

(via silenceofthelambsfandom)

Anonymous said: Just curious, what's your favorite thing about Clannibal? Btw, your blog is great and I hope you're having a good start at grad school (creeps asides, of course).


Oh man, don’t get me started on Clannibal…I won’t shut up. Ummm I think some of the biggest things for me is that Hannibal is the only man that truly sees who Clarice Starling is and takes an interest in who she is as a person…like out of all the shit bag men Clarice has had to deal with, he’s one of like 2 dudes who respects her (John Brigham actually thinks she’s a capable agent and treats her like an equal, but look how that turned out :-/ and lets be real here, Jack Crawford sent her to Hannibal without giving her the real reason why and basically used her for selfish reasons). Hannibal is fascinated by her and her courage and conviction and she’s the only person that truly surprises him. He can’t predict the things she does the way he can with everyone else that comes across his path. And then there’s Clarice…god she had to deal with so much bullshit at the FBI and here she is, standing up to this “monster” when he tries to read her to filth the first time they meet, and she’s like ‘um, how about no’ and then from there on forward she knows that he’s the only man that treats her like an equal. 

I mean, if you haven’t read Hannibal, then I would totally suggest you do because it really goes so much more in depth into their relationship. In TSOTL, it’s very much focused on Clarice desperately wanting to save this woman and prove to all the misogynist pricks at the FBI that she’s not to be fucked with - she’s almost naive in her belief that if she saves this girl and does her job, that she’ll be rewarded with good things. But in Hannibal we see a Clarice Starling who’s been treated unfairly and saw her career go down the shitter because her boss doesn’t like her. She understands the sort of justice that Hannibal doled out (eating the rude and all that), like they had the same strict moral code and she could appreciate that. The real world didn’t care about justice or moral absolutes and certainly didn’t care about what’s fair or not. Just as Hannibal understands Clarice, Clarice understands and appreciates who he is and what he stands for.

Hannibal says to her that she’s a warrior and she’s beautiful and that the world is more interesting with her in it…like come on. Hannibal is like the friggen expert on what’s beautiful and interesting in the world, which is pretty much the highest praise he could say about anyone/anything. 

I mean, also in the movie, there is totally some sexual tension that can’t be ignored and omg Clannibal. I can’t stop talking about Clannibal.

Tags: clannibal


Loved by some, loathed by others. Hannibal (1999) finally gives Dr. Hannibal Lecter the chance of taking the centre stage. But he’s not alone. Clarice Starling also comes back. Will their story be as good as in The Silence of the Lambs? How will it end?

We created this website to read along…