i have a lot of thoughts about Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs (the books) but I am a better talker than writer. I’ll try anyway.
- Frances Dolarhyde is more interesting than Buffalo Bill, but Clarice Starling is WAY more interesting than Will Graham.
- Not sure what Hannibal’s magic sixth finger was about in Silence.
- One of the things that’s brilliant about Silence (and the film captures this too which is impressive) is the constant, quiet presence of casual sexism that Clarice and by extension you as a reader are made aware of in a pretty subtle fashion, which feels remarkably refreshing in our current cultural climate where we all seem to want loud bold statements decrying societal ills (which is not to say that hasn’t been done well either, it’s just odd to see something do it so quietly by comparison.)
- Re: Buffalo Bill: from a reception standpoint I can see where this might be seen as damaging to trans representation, but the book (at least, the film is a little different) does a pretty good job of explaining to you that this is a person who is not even really transgender but really a more grotesque version of Norman Bates (or if you want to go the historical route, Ed Gein, who it’s worth noting did make women’s clothing items out of human skin, and I hardly think we would suggest that he was trans, rather just horrifically murderous). The “gender panic” aspect of the character is so mild in the book that when I watched the film just now I was sort of shocked by it; it feels rather clumsy in places for a few reasons. One is the bizarre placement of small amounts of Nazi paraphenelia (day glo Swastika blanket; propaganda posters) around the house, which I’m not sure is even meaningfully consistent with the character (“I murder people and oh I’m also a nazi in case that wasn’t evil enough”). The “I’d fuck me” scene is interesting, because I can see where the film expects you to find Bill (who honestly looks more like David Lee Roth in this scene than someone in drag) grotesque because “the tuck,” but it actually underscores something particularly strange about this story, which is that the only person who is really sexually threatening is Dr. Chilton. Granted, Hannibal pursues a lot of uncomfortable lines of questioning, but it’s clear that, like everything else he does, the point is just to make you uncomfortable any way that he can. The last thing, which sort of shocked me, was that you actually see the suit. In the book, you know there is a suit, but you do not encounter it as such. It was quite visceral to actually see.
- Book Hannibal is a weird halfway between Hopkins’ and Mikkelsens’ portrayals. He’s sly and theatrical but not really outright creepy like Hopkins is, less masculine and uptight than Mikkelsen. I like Book Hannibal.
- I have started Hannibal the book, I have heard that the end of this book will make me hate the entire series, but I must experience it anyway.