Psychopath on a Pedestal

There should be an asterisk in the Hollywood Walk of Fame for an anonymous psychopath. Sensation cinema can no longer do without serial killers.

Psychopath on a Pedestal

Can there be any doubt what the movie “Young Hannibal” will be about? If anyone bets on the legendary leader of ancient Carthage, they will be in a distinct minority. It is, of course, a sequel to the adventures of Hannibal Lecter, the erudite cannibal.

Peter Weber, the author of the subtle “Girl with a Pearl”, will be behind the camera. A young French actor Gaspard Ulliel (“A Very Long Engagement”) is scheduled to play the main role. The creators promise many attractions. We will move to Lithuania, where the criminal genius grew up. We will meet his family, his beloved sister, we will understand how his appetite for human flesh was born.

Sympathy for the devil

That there will be a prequel to the series about Dr. Cannibal probably won’t surprise anyone. The last part of the saga (“Hannibal”) earned 350 million dollars worldwide. Despite very bad reviews and indignation of some viewers at the drastic nature of the film. As a reminder – in one of the scenes the protagonist trepanated the skull of a living victim and ate his brain with a spoon.

Is there any limit of sensitivity, which cinema should not cross? The producer of the Hannibal series, Dino de Laurentiis, provides an answer: – He only kills the people the audience would like to see dead. So, despite his natural revulsion, sympathy remains on his side.

This is an interesting approach to the case, because in a way it assumes that the viewers become accomplices to the onscreen crime. The filmmakers have no doubt that people like psychopathic murderers.

The Prince and the Beggar

Stories about serial killers are not an invention of recent years. In the 60s and 70s the famous cases of de Salva, Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer stirred the collective imagination. The press, and later the cinema, only took advantage of the opportunity. Films based on biographies of murderers were made, reaching back to the convention of the paradocumentary. What we observe today is perhaps just a natural stage of evolution.

True stories are no longer gruesome enough. Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered little children, made weevils out of human flesh, cut off his victims’ heads and put them on shelves, looks pale next to Hannibal. After all, Dr. Lecter is a true gentleman, a scientist, a wine expert, and a lover of harpsichord music. Writer Thomas Harris and the scriptwriters of the subsequent adaptations use all their artistry to make the torture scenes original and sophisticated.

A cry in the wilderness

The Boston Strangler was released in 1968. Renowned American critic Roger Ebert wrote: “We should judge some productions not only for their quality (very high in this case) but also for their moral and ethical implications.”

He went on to describe that while sitting in the cinema he noticed a pair of teenage girls who giggled at the most cruel scenes. Ebert admitted that the work was probably done with good intentions, the psychological portrait of the murderer was believable, the director did not exude cruelty for pure entertainment. However, the main attraction that drew people to the cinemas was the macabre nature of the subject. Therefore, he concluded: “This film, which was made so carefully, should not have been made at all.”

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