Lecter Variations, The
Now I cannot answer, why on earth I watched this movie again, but maybe the answer is again that I am a huge fan of anything concerning Hannibal Lecter. And this time I realized the potential of a good movie inside this turd. Gaspard Ulliel’s acting was the main reason for that, because he does give one really good performance. So I started thinking, creating a concept and finally fanediting. And with pride I can finally announce: I present you a worthy origin of Hannibal Lecter.
Now is the story of Hannibal Rising interesting? In a way, yes. The explanation why and how he became the one he is, is interesting, yet painful to watch, because only incredible suffering could turn you into a psychopath like he is.
My fanedit takes out the antagonist part big time, so the focus of the movie stays on Hannibal and not so much on hating Grutas and his men and wishing them bad. This affects the entire mood of the movie, which is sinister, silent and rather unhappy. This is a huge change compared to both book and movie. Also there is no big police chase involved, which even more puts the focus on Hannibal and his deeds.
What made the second part (where Hannibal escapes) of Silence Of The Lambs so fascinating is to watch this man doing terrible things with calmness, yet smartness. It is the strange fascination of terror, not action.
The Hannibal I present you in my fanedit is not one to be loved, but he is an interesting person and we see the huge potential he got for getting extremely smart.
There is banality and triviality in his motives to kill these men. Revenge is so obvious. But yet this was necessary. Only if he was personally involved in his first murders, he could later on discover that the lambs did not stop screaming after the task he put on himself was complete.
My fanedit NEVER makes his killings appear as a good thing to sympathize with. But the calmness with which he takes revenge is for sure fascinating.
My fanedit tries to completely change the mood of the movie from a superficial psychopath hero tale to a more subtle revenge movie of a deeply traumatized, yet very intelligent person, who tries to solve the reason for his nightmares and his continually feeling bad (the screaming of the lambs).
1. The entire beginning of the movie (the first 17 minutes) was reduced to a montage of what Hannibal sees and moved to the middle of the movie instead as a backflash.
Starting a movie in chronological order is nice, because the plot just continues with no interruptions. But in this case it is this very beginning that made the movie fail. Although filmed with huge efforts for historical correctness and a big budget, it is just wrong. Right from the beginning we learn what a monster the villain Grutas is and what happened to Hannibal’s sister Mischa. The scenes with Grutas and his men are over the top brutal and embarrassing (sniffing jews anyone?). The effect these over-the-top scenes have is to take the audience out of the movie. What happened to Mischa and Hannibal is actually a good story, but starting a movie with the climax is as bad as it can get. At that time the audience is not connected to Hannibal at all, which leads to feeling nothing much, when the terrible events take place. What I did was to completely cut the story of Grutas from World War II, because it is not necessary to know how bad he is. We see that for ourselves later on. Subtlety instead of superficiality. I created new credits with a score to put you in the right mood and some little introduction text to get things going. I am very happy with the new beginning.
2.The truck ride (20 sec added)
On his escape from the orphanage Hannibal goes by a truck and takes out his binoculars. I added the scene, because of the binoculars. In the next scene we see him using them, but I wondered all the time, where he got these from. This is to show he has them already.
3. Kendo training with Lady Murasaki (50 sec). removed
One of the most annoying scenes of the entire movie. The intention was to show the growing relationship of Lady Murasaki and Hannibal Lecter as well as show Hannibal’s advancing in his physical skills and teaching him an ancient fighting art, which is supposed to underline his interest in culture and tradition. Unfortunately the scene seemed like the training session of a Karate Kid movie, the mood was very happy and totally did not match to the rest of the movie. I removed it completely and this is already a huge improvement.
4. Hannibal putting on the Samurai mask (20 sec). removed
The first thing I wanted to remove. In this very scene Hannibal puts on a Samurai mask, when he plans his first killing. The scene is intended to show us the masked Hannibal that we know from its predecessors so well. BUT what it really does is to show us that Hannibal is associated with his mask, much like Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees. There is a deleted scene in which inspector Popil asks Hannibal if he ever wore that mask and his reply is “I do not deserve this honor yet”. This is plain stupid. Hannibal Lecter has no interest in masks. He NEVER wire the biteshield mask of the predecessors out of his free will. The mask is only a symbol of him being captured and incarcerated. So in order to stay true to the originals (and these are in my opinion RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) this scene is not happening.
5. The butcher’s death (2:52 min) removed and added a little backflash montage and a text message for timing reasons.
I was working a lot on that one until the final decision was made to completely drop the entire scene. Hannibal kills the butcher at a lakeside with a Katana. Beforehand he talks some Lecter-talk about pussies and plays the song “Ein Männlein steht im Walde” on the mandoline. This is one of the scenes which ruined the movie. It was gross, it was superficial and it was stupid. Besides the butcher acts rather badly int he scenes with dialogue. Now of course a Hannibal Lecter movie has to be gross, but not that early in the movie. A movie lives from a plot that raises the thrill continually. Hannibal Rising continually disrespects this rule. I had created a much shorter version of the butcher being killed, but even that did not work. It felt chopped up to much. So I removed it completely and the audience does not see the butcher’s death at all, only the plans and the result in the police station. The dialogue between Hannibal and the butcher is copied from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but it does not work, it feels artificial. Removing the entire scene is the best I could do. Subtlety instead of instead of disgusting artificiality.
6. Sodium Penthanol (20 sec) added.
Hannibal joins an execution, in which the convict is interrogated by the use of a truth serum (Sodium Penthanol). The scene adds further information to this, which I found rather essential, especially because Hannibal gets the serum as a gift and does not steal it.
7. Dortlich’s singing (20 sec) removed
Hannibal forces Dortlich to sing “Ein Männlein steht im Walde” when he already is about to be killed. The scene was so over-the-top. It is VERY unlikely Dortlich would have sung a children’s song in this situation. It is one of the major changes I wanted to make to get rid of the importance of that children song, because it doesn’t work and is actually a flaw, since the song is not about a mysterious man in the woods, but about a rosehip. I also deleted Hannibal commanding the horse by whistling, because only trained horses do that. These scenes were deleted for better pacing and more realism.
8. Lady Murasaki sniffing (10 sec) removed
She tells Hannibal he smells of blood and smoke, when he has returned to France. We all know that Hannibal is a VERY clean person. I am sure, he has washed himself in the many days it must have taken him to travel in the 50s from the Soviet Union back to France.
9. Inspector Popil questioning Lady Murasaki (2:31min) removed
Popil asks Lady Murasaki about Hannibal and presents a photo of the killed Dortlich to Lady Murasaki. The intention of the later scenes with Popil is to have Hannibal hunted by the police, to present Popil as the smart minded policeman, who finds out about him and chases him. Police work was an important matter in all the predecessors, but in this case it does not add to the suspense of the story. It rather feels like a lame copy, because Popil never seems to be really smart. It is highly unlikely that the Soviets shared any information about War Crimes or murders in their country with any other country. From history we know that the Soviets always lied about what happened inside their borders. They had no serial killers and no unsolved murder cases – or at least wanted everybody else to believe that to show their system was superior. Without the evidence, Popil knows nothing about Hannibal’s murder, resulting in no chase taking place. Removing this scene was necessary and is really good for the pacing and realism of the movie.
10. Inspector Popil searching Hannibal’s room (24sec) removed
I removed this scene for the same reason as the one above. There is no chase.
11. Inspector Popil visiting and questioning Hannibal (approximately 5 min) removed
Popil interrogates Hannibal again, knowing he ate Dortlich’s cheeks, and lets him go. This highly unlikely scenario considering Popil is a policeman is one further reason for him to not be part of the second half of the movie. I needed a lot of editing to create a working scene for Milko’s water tank scene as it is interrupted several times by the Inspector Popil scene.
12. Lady Murasaki tries to stop Hannibal by getting intimate (30 sec) removed
Murasaki and Hannibal kissing? No way. Hannibal is kind of asexual as we know from the predecessors. He does like women and he kind of falls in love with them, but he always kept it platonic. No reason to change this here. Also it did not fit to Murasaki’s character to try to seduce him.
13. Grutas talks about Lady Murasaki’s anus (20 sec) removed
This is a terrible scene: Grutas picks a prune and compares it to Lady Murasaki’s anus after he will be finished with her. Then he eats the prune and enjoys it a lot. This is one of the over-the-top scenes that is just plain disgusting and does not add anything to the mood or the story. We knew before that he was a bad guy. Removing this scene is the best to happen to it.
14. Grutas is molesting Lady Murasaki (23 sec) removed
Grutas tells Lady Murasaki what Hannibal did to Dortlich. He touches her all the time, while he does that. The scene does not add anything to the story, even though it means that lady Murasaki still does not know Hannibal is a cannibal.
15. Popil talking to Lady Murasaki when the boat explodes (about 40 sec) removed
Popil somehow heard what happened on the boat and finds Lady Murasaki on the bridge. He tries to calm her down, when the boat explodes. Since Popil is not part of the 2nd half of the movie, he cannot be there. besides that the scene was meaningless anyway as it implied a personal contact between Popil and Murasaki, which was in the book, but not in the movie. I created an explosion montage therefore, which works kind of well.
16. The original ending and end credits (8 min) removed / new end credits added (4 min)
The original movie ends with the song “Ein Männlein steht im Walde”, sung by a child’s choir. This scene is supposed to be a funny mixture of shock and sweetness, of enjoying the horror. Unfortunately it does not work that way. It makes you smirk and leave the theater unsatisfied. I added a more dramatic final score, which directly mounts into the custom end credits.
Edited to make an in-depth review after rewatching the movie:
Audio/Video Quality: I could not watch the DVD version of this edit but the quality of the video was good. Neither better nor worse than the original one taking into account that the original is in a DVD version. For that reason, I consider a six to be a good rating, because nothing was improved involving this.
Visual Editing: This part was well done. The only scene where I could really notice that something was changed was when he starts to remember, but in the rest of the movie is difficult to know what was cut. Maybe with some effects added this sensation could be dismished a little but I am not very sure about that.
Audio Editing: I do not usually notice audio cuts unless they are very obvious. Here I did not detect anything strange. I think it was well done. A bad Audio editing could have ruined this movie even more. With some effort and knowing what was changed you can be able to notice something that is not perfect.
Narrative: This is what makes this edit important. The narrative is completely changed, which manages to transform a horrible movie into a watchable film more in the way of the silence of the lambs and its other sequels. This does not means that it is as good as the rest as the saga but the final thoughts are positive.
Enjoyment: The movie now can entertain us thanks to the fact that some misteries are not resolved right away in the first minutes. Not knowing what happened to Hannibal untill half the movie was a good change that I enjoyed a lot. Another good thing was the incest kiss, wich was not surprising, disappeared.