NBC’s “Hannibal” premiered its third season on June 4, and it continues to receive rapturous praise from critics (84 on MetaCritic as of this writing). But as good as it is, could it be – gasp – even better than “The Silence of the Lambs”?
“Silence,” directed by Jonathan Demme in 1991, wasn’t the first film to feature the infamous serial killer Hannibal Lecter – that was “Manhunter” in 1986 – but it was certainly the one that made him a star. It was so dazzling that the motion picture academy momentarily forgot their snobbish bias against horror films and awarded it the Oscar for Best Picture and gave Anthony Hopkins the Best Actor prize as Lecter. What’s more, it’s one of only three films in Oscar history to win the big five awards (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress for Jodie Foster and Screenplay), following “It Happened One Night” (1934) and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975).
None of the Hannibal Lecter films that have been released since then have come close to the acclaim and pop cultural impact of “Silence” – including Ridley Scott‘s “Hannibal” (2000) and Brett Ratner‘s “Red Dragon” (2002), both starring Hopkins – and it seemed for a while that the character had finally run his course.
Then “Pushing Daisies” mastermind Bryan Fuller applied his particular magic touch to the classic horror saga and, quite appropriately, brought it back from the dead, casting Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen in the title role. The series hasn’t been a huge ratings hit, and the Emmys have yet to catch on – those TV academy folks are anti-horror snobs too – but it has emerged as one of the most acclaimed watercooler shows on television, and with two seasons and 26 episodes already under its belt, it has logged more time with the infamous cannibal than all the films put together.
So what do you think? Has “Hannibal” surpassed “The Silence of the Lambs”? Vote in our poll below.