The experience of watching “Hannibal” is somewhat akin to ingesting a visual narcotic. It’s not the kind of show where plausibility is of paramount importance, but rather, where sensation and mood is practically everything. One of the best things about Bryan Fuller’s hellacious television adaptation of everybody’s favorite cultured people-eater (played by Mads Mikkelsen in what, in this writer’s opinion, is the definitive iteration of the character) was how the show eventually morphed from a smart, arty take on the typical network murder procedural to a kind of lurid, rococo death fantasy awash in dazzling visuals and opaque metaphors. As the show progressed, Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham became more than just frenemies: their bond and history with each other was so deep that they may as well have been lovers. When Will tells Hannibal in the brilliant season two opener “Kaseiki,” “I can’t get you out of my head,” you really believe him.
“Hannibal” has always had its foundations in Gothic Fantasy and, arguably, Gothic Romance. The story’s interior and exterior sets often employ Gothic tropes and architecture, creating an uncanny, dread-suffused mood that was unlike anything on television. This new video essay from Lori Morimoto highlights some of the show’s most overt nods to the genre. Text from William Godwin’s “Things as They Are” and, of course, Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” are juxtaposed against some of the show’s most pointed Gothic allusions, further illustrating that “Hannibal” was always more interested in sustaining an indelible atmosphere then creating a story that made perfect logical sense. “Hannibal” is a show that fully embraces its nerd credentials (not for nothing does Hannibal quote William Blake’s poem “The Tyger” to the sniveling Dr. Chilton in a particularly sinister moment) but even so, this video will give committed “Hannibal” nerds something to sink their teeth into.
Check out the essay and let us know what you think in the comments section.