Tag Archives: Anthony Hopkins

Double bill: Manhunter (1986) & The Silence of the Lambs (1991) or livewithfilm enjoys its electro pop with a nice Chianti…

23 Oct

Potentially serving as the darkest double bill livewithfilm has yet to endure, the earliest incarnations of the Lecktor/Lecter tales remain surprisingly dissimilar and fuel fear in entirely different ways. While the violent aging of Michael Mann’s Manhunter has done it no favours (synth drum solos anyone?) it still can sit contentedly next to Jonathan Demme’s Academy busting Silence, perhaps even surpassing its younger sibling. Depending on how many sunsets and short-shorts one can stomach, Manhunter’s stylised yet realistic vision is truly skin-crawling and often surpasses the frequently bogeyman-esque horrors of Silence.

Alluding to previous battles with a one Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox), Manhunter sees psychologically fragile cop Will Graham (William Petersen) called back into the force to hunt down serial killer ‘The Toothfairy’. Entering into the murderer’s mindset, Graham risks insanity as he hunts his latest prey. Silence sees Lecter (here, Anthony Hopkins) consulted once again as trainee FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) hunts down a killer who skins his victims. Entering into a pact with Lecter, Starling is forced to confide deep secrets to the cannibal.

Both Cox and Hopkins excel as Lecktor and Lecter respectively, demonstrating different interpretations of the same maniacal character; yet, somewhat controversially, Cox’s remains superior. Hinting at the brutal genius of Lecktor, Manhunter teases a more chilling glimpse of insanity out of the villain. While Hopkins tears around his Perspex cage, Silence nearly explains him away, revealing all that Manhunter so eerily suggests. Hopkins is enthrallingly unnerving but remains in a film that could do with implying as much as it reveals.

Manhunter’s ‘monster’ is similarly more effective. A terrifying presence, Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan) is compellingly fleshed out, far more so than the at times Leatherface-styled Jame Gumb (Ted Lavine). When matching Gumb with Clarice however, Silence brings to the fore an intriguing gender-morphing dynamic implied throughout both films.

While it looks like livewithfilm has gone out to damn The Silence of the Lambs, this blogger agrees that the film is a classic piece of horror. Just don’t write off its earlier, and vastly underrated, predecessor.

With music like this over the closing sequence who could deny Manhunter’s classic status?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBWSocJMChA

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