HANNIBAL RISING. 2007. DIRECTED BY PETER WEBBER. STARRING GASPARD ULLIEL, GONG LI AND RHYS IFANS. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This grim but excellent horror film is the fifth in the Hannibal Lecter franchise and serves as a prequel to RED DRAGON, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL, all superbly scary offerings themselves.
It literally documents the rise of cold-blooded psychopath Hannibal Lecter. It tells us about the factors that conspire to make him what he is when he bursts onto our screens in a full-blown burst of liver-and-fava-bean-eating, Chianti-swilling cannibalistic evil.
What it comes down to is this, and it ain’t pretty. Hannibal’s origins are to be found in the war-torn Lithuania of the Hitler years, where it seems that the terrified locals have as much to fear from their own soldiers as they do from the Germans.
Hannibal’s parents are killed in an explosion, leaving the eight-year-old Hannibal as the sole guardian of his little sister, Mischa. Not for long, however. Mischa, as unbelievable and as gruesome as it seems, is killed and eaten- yep, eaten- by a small band of six former Lithuanian soldiers, now Nazi collaborators, who are desperate for food. Tsk, tsk. It’s still no excuse, though.
This grotesque act of cannibalism is witnessed by Hannibal in all its sinewy, tendony glory. Eeuw. Needless to say, it traumatises him for life. When he’s all grown-up, and ridiculously handsome in an intense, broody, cheekboney kind of way, his only aim in life is to hunt down the men who ate his sister and dish out large, creamy helpings of piping-hot vengeance that they’ll choke on and boy, do they choke…
This is basically a revenge movie, albeit a superior, beautifully-shot one. Hannibal tracks down all six men and, when he eventually catches up with them, it’s a case of comeuppances all round in some pretty horrible and bloody ways. Rhys Ifans does a great job of portraying Vladis Grutas, leader of the little group of cannibals and now a sex-trafficker, who has a giant M- for Mischa- carved across his chest by a revenge-crazed Hannibal.
Hannibal is so consumed with his need for vengeance that he even misses out on the chance for love with his beautiful widowed aunt, the Lady Murasaki, because he just can’t call a halt to his self-imposed mission. Mind you, that’s a bit… well, a bit incestuous anyway, isn’t it, doing it with your late brother’s missus…?
And, can I just say, when I was growing up, none of my aunties looked like the drop-dead gorgeous Lady Murasaki…? My aunties all wore cardigans and had constant trouble with their waterworks.
So, is revenge ever actually worth it? Are you any better off because of it? And when you’ve achieved it, just what the heck are you supposed to do then? I’m reminded of Inigo Montoya, brilliantly played by Mandy Patinkin in THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987).
When he finally manages to slay the man who killed his father, Inigo turns to Cary Elwes and says: ‘You know, I have been in the revenge business for so long that, now that it is all over, I’m buggered if I know what I’m supposed to do next!’ or words to that effect. I couldn’t have put it better myself.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at: