Favorite Villains: Hannibal Lecter

As played by Anthony Hopkins.

As played by Anthony Hopkins.

Yesterday my husband and I watched most of the second season of the TV series Hannibal, and it got me thinking about how much I love the character of Hannibal Lecter. Sure, he is meant to come across as an emotionless serial killer, but I think he is a bit more complicated than that.

What makes a good film or TV villain is that a small part of you can sympathize with them. That’s right, there will be a little tiny part of you that thinks that what the villain is doing is right. Mind you, you wouldn’t do it in real life, but getting to see somebody else do it makes you feel a bit warm and fuzzy.

What is it about Hannibal Lecter that gets my blood flowing? First off it’s the fact that he hates rudeness and will kill people for it. If a violinist in an orchestra plays really badly Hannibal will consider the player to be rude for disrupting an otherwise beautiful performance and kill him for it. Yes, that may be an over the top reaction to a bad performance, but I find it fascinating character trait. I mean, what other fictional serial killer is so cultured that he considers it the height of rudeness to not practice an instrument?

Another thing I like about the character is that he won’t automatically kill you if you get in his way. The chances are that he will, but if he finds you to be interesting he won’t touch you. He likes to study people, since he’s a psychiatrist, and his innate interest in steering people into doing what he wants them to do overrides his desire to kill them. Then again, he could steer you into doing something bad, and THEN kill you. You never know!

As played by Mads Mikkelsen.

As played by Mads Mikkelsen.

As I said before he is very cultured and doesn’t fit into the stereotypical cast of a serial killer. He attends operas and participates in fundraising events for the arts. Cooking is, for him, more than just a past-time it’s a form an art. An art that makes use of recycled human body parts, but we can’t all be perfect! Actually, he’s doing his bit to save the environment by recycling so let’s give him some credit!

The character has appeared in a total of five films and now a TV series. My favorite film of the series has got to be The Silence Of The Lambs and I absolutely love the series Hannibal. Both Anthony Hopkins and Mads Mikkelsen are excellent actors and both bring a level of pathos to the character that you wouldn’t expect a serial killer to possess. Mads Mikklesen is an awesome Danish actor by the way. if you haven’t seen Vahalla Rising, in which he plays a Viking warrior, you are missing out! Plus he’s easy on the eyes. *wink wink nudge nudge*

What is comes down to is that Thomas Harris, the creator of the Hannibal Lecter, made a very complex serial killer; a villain that is easy to root for and sympathize with. I don’t know if Harris purposely created his character in that way, but that is what makes him one of the greatest villains of all times. Well done!

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2 Comments

  1. I completely agree. I often find myself sympathizing with villains. Asking myself if I was in their place, if what happened to them happened to me, could I really say I wouldn’t do the same thing? Or at least want to? I’m a composer so I can particularly relate to the bit about murdering a bad instrumentalist to improve the overall quality of the performance. Gods know I’ve been tempted with some of my past band members. And I also love complex characters with intricate layers of motivations. And Hannibal’s one of my favorites who pulls this off very well.

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