Fascinated Fridays: The Horrible Beauty of Hannibal Season 1

(Warning:  Some disturbing content.)

One of the unexpected but wonderful side effects of this summer schedule is that with no work from my normal job, and large amounts of “author” work done during the day, I actually have some time at night to enjoy family and free time.  So, for this Fascinated Friday, I thought I would talk about a show that has really blown me away lately.  Especially now that I have a chance to actually watch it.

Hannibal  debuted on NBC (non-cable major broadcast network!  Still can’t believe this!) in 2013.  It tells of the character of Hannibal Lecter, made famous in The Silence of the Lambs, and shows us his time before the movie.  His relationship with FBI investigator Will Graham is at the heart of the series , and the interplay between Mad Mikkelsen as Hannibal and Hugh Dancy as Graham is turly something special.  The dialogue is sharp and tight, especially between the two of them.  But all the acting is really solid.  Laurence Fishburne is awesome here as well, playing lead agent Jack Crawford.

As good as the acting is though, and as sharp as the story-telling is (I don’t want to get into the details lest I spoil for people.  Spoilers bad, mmmkay?), the real strength of the show is that it is just absolutely gorgeous.  Now, this may seem like a very strange thing to say about a show that depicts horrific crimes, but it is nonetheless true.  There is a horrible and terrifying beauty to the way that many of the killings are presented.  Often, the show feels on the edge of the surreal or fantastic, especially in the moments where it allows us to take an unflinching look at the horrible things that the characters investigate (or have done, or both).

One of the things that makes the character of Will Graham so valuable to the investigation of these crimes is that he is able to put himself in the mind of the killers that have performed them.  This is not only powerful visually, but it takes its toll on the character.  It is one of the signature aspects of the show.  However, it also I think serves as a metaphor for what we experience. Just as we see Will beginning to be drawn closer to the darkness he is gazing into, so too do we.  We see the design.  It is unsettling, and yet, it is powerful visual storytelling.

There is also such a loving devotion to the way food is shot throughout the episodes that you will find yourself yearning at first for a taste of the rich, lovely cuisine presented.  Then, you will realize the possibilities of that cuisine, and you won’t be quite so hungry anymore.

Plus, Hannibal Lecter’s office is amazing.  I want it.  (Don’t judge me!).

I am now through the first season and eager to start the second.  I am hoping things continue as mad as they have been.

A word of warning.  If it was not abundantly clear, this show is not only not for children, but it is beyond the comfort level of a lot of adults.  Do not be fooled by the fact that it is a major network show.  It is BRUTAL and horrific.  But if you can stand such things, there is much to be savored in this feast.

Until next time, keep finding things you love.  I know I will.

-Mark

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