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|Hannibal Tetralogy character|
|Birth name||Hannibal Lecter (VIII)|
|Titles||Count Hannibal Lecter VIII |
Hannibal Lecter M.D.
|Aliases||Lloyd Wyman |
|Nickname||"Hannibal the Cannibal"|
|Birth||1933 (Actual) |
|Ancestry||Lithuanian nobility (Paternal) |
Italian nobility (Maternal)
|Relatives||Mischa Lecter (Sister) |
Count Robert Lecter (Uncle)
Lady Murasaki Lecter (Aunt and guardian)
|M.O.||Organized serial murder, Revenge Cannibalism, Torture|
|Occupation(s)||Surgeon, Psychiatrist, Culinary Artist, Artist, Library Curator|
|Current status:||At large|
|Portrayed by:||Brian Cox - Manhunter |
Anthony Hopkins - The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon
Gaspard Ulliel - Hannibal Rising
Aaron Thomas - Hannibal Rising
Hannibal Lecter is a fictional character in a series of novels by author Thomas Harris. Lecter is introduced in the 1981 thriller novel Red Dragon as a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. Lecter's role in the novel is minor, but in the sequel, The Silence of the Lambs, he becomes one of two primary antagonists. In the third novel, Hannibal, Lecter becomes the main character. His role as protagonist continues into the fourth novel, Hannibal Rising, which explores his childhood and development into a serial killer. Lecter's character also appears in all five film adaptations. The first film (Manhunter, 1986) was loosely based on Red Dragon, and features Brian Cox as Lecter, inexplicably spelled as "Lecktor". In 2002, a second film adaptation of Red Dragon was made under the original title, featuring Anthony Hopkins, who had previously portrayed Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Hopkins' won an Academy Award for his portrayal of the character in The Silence of the Lambs in 1991.
Lecter (as portrayed by Hopkins) has been named by The American Film Institute to be the most memorable villain in film history.
 Character origin and development
Harris has never explained where he got inspiration for Hannibal Lecter, but in a documentary for Hannibal Rising, Lecter's early murders were said by the filmmakers to be based on murders that Harris had covered when he was a crime scene reporter in the 1960s.
In 1992, Harris also paid a visit to the ongoing trials of Pietro Pacciani, who was suspected of being the serial killer nicknamed the "Monster of Florence". Parts of the killer's modus operandi were used as reference for the novel Hannibal.
Hannibal Lecter is described in the novels as being small and sleek, and with wiry strength in his arms. In Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter's left hand has the condition called mid ray duplication polydactyly, or his left hand has an extra digit; a duplicated middle finger. In Hannibal, he has since had his extra digit removed, while Hannibal Rising makes no mention of this physical abnormality.
Lecter's eyes are shade of maroon, and reflect the light in "pinpoints of red". He is also said to have small white teeth and dark hair.
 Fictional character biography
- The following account of the character's biography is based strictly on the novel series. All date contradictions are purported to be by Lecter himself, with the dates in Hannibal Rising purporting to be the correct ones.
Hannibal Rising reveals that Hannibal Lecter is the eighth generation descendant of the warlord "Hannibal the Grim" who defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grunwald (1410). Lecter's mother, Madame Simonetta Sforza, is descended from both the Visconti and Sforza families who separately ruled Milan for a total of 250 years.
In Hannibal, it is suggested that Lecter is also descended from Giuliano Bevisangue, a feared and ruthless figure in 12th-century Tuscany, and from the Machiavelli bloodline. In the book Hannibal, Lecter himself pursues this subject to determine from the records of the Capponi Library if there is any true connection to Bevisangue, but he is unable to answer the question. Hannibal also asserts that Lecter is a distant cousin of the artist Balthus.
 The Making of The Monster
Lecter's childhood is first referenced in Hannibal, but is fully detailed in Hannibal Rising.
Hannibal Lecter was born on January 20, 1933 to a wealthy, aristocratic Lithuanian family. After the death of his parents in World War II, eleven-year-old Hannibal and his younger sister Mischa were held against their will by a group of looters during the severe winter of 1944. Unable to find food, the looters resorted to cannibalism, and chose Mischa to be consumed. Lecter was severely traumatized by his sister's death, an event that haunted him for the rest of his life. This destroyed his faith in God, and shaped him into the "monster" that is later depicted in the series.
Lecter, orphaned, lived in his former home which had been converted into an orphanage. After a year, his uncle and aunt, Count Robert Lecter, and Lady Murasaki, retrieved him so that he could live in France. Lecter committed his first murder as a teenager, by beheading a butcher who had insulted his aunt, and whose insult indirectly led to the death of his uncle. Lecter was interrogated by the police, but was released on lack of evidence. Knowing what Lecter had done, Lady Murasaki feared that he would try to kill the men who murdered Mischa. She failed to dissuade him from hunting the men, and Lecter left, determined to avenge his sister.
Avenging Mischa grew into an obsession, and he relentlessly hunted the group who killed his sister; he then systematically butchered them, cannibalizing several of them. When he confronted the group's leader, Vladis Grutas, he learned that he too had consumed Mischa's remains in a broth. Out of rage, Lecter carved the letter M into Grutas' body. Witnessing the monster that Lecter had become, Lady Murasaki left him. With all his loved ones gone, Lecter left Europe for the United States, having earlier been accepted to Johns Hopkins University.
 American Career
After graduating from Johns Hopkins University, Lecter establishes a psychiatric practice in Baltimore, Maryland, and became a celebrated figure in the city's most prominent social circles. Lecter had also worked as an emergency room physician in Baltimore.
Lecter's desire to murder and cannibalize does not end after he avenges Mischa. Lecter kills nine more people in Baltimore and disables three others. Two of his victims figure in later novels: Hannibal introduces Mason Verger, a billionaire pedophile who survives Lecter's assault, but is left a hideously disfigured quadriplegic; and The Silence of the Lambs introduces Benjamin Raspail, an untalented flautist whose lover, Jame Gumb, becomes the serial killer "Buffalo Bill", the novel's secondary villain.
FBI Agent Will Graham consults Lecter in his office one Sunday, looking for psychiatric and surgical insight into a serial killer he is investigating. Briefly left alone in Lecter's office, he suddenly realizes the doctor is the killer he seeks after seeing the antique medical diagram "Wound Man" in Lecter's office; Graham remembers that one of the victims was found in the exact position. Lecter, having realised his mistake, returns to attack Graham, stabbing and nearly disemboweling him. Maryland State Troopers arrive and arrests Lecter.
Lecter is found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to nine consecutive life terms in the Chesapeake State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, later the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane (though the novel names it the Chesapeake Hospital, it makes it clear that the hospital is in Maryland and not Virginia). He is nicknamed "Hannibal the Cannibal" in the National Tattler, a lurid tabloid that covers his trial.
Lecter is a model patient for the first year of his incarceration. It is revealed in the novel Red Dragon, that he attacked a nurse, dislocating her jaw, eating her tongue and ripping out one of her eyes. During the assault, Lecter's pulse never rose above 85 BPM. This fact is later mentioned again in The Silence of the Lambs as a reminder to the audience.
Because of his unusual brain wave patterns and history of violence, he is branded a "pure sociopath"; Graham mentions, however, that Lecter does not really fit any psychological profile, and so is labeled a sociopath for lack of a more appropriate term. Lecter refuses to submit to any standard psychological testing, folding questionnaires into origami and reciting a recipe for a dip under the influence of sodium amytal.
Red Dragon introduces Lecter's keeper in the asylum: administrator Frederick Chilton, whom Lecter despises. In The Silence of the Lambs, orderly Barney Matthews, who treats Lecter with courtesy, is introduced, and he enjoys a mutual respect with Lecter.
In Red Dragon, Graham briefly consults Lecter in an investigation of a serial killer dubbed "The Tooth Fairy". Unknown to Graham, Lecter starts a correspondence with the killer, Francis Dolarhyde, and gives him Graham's home address in code. As a result, Dolarhyde is killed and Graham is permanently disfigured.
In The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter assists FBI trainee Clarice Starling in capturing "Buffalo Bill". In exchange for his help (given as vague, riddling clues) Lecter demands personal information about Starling's painful childhood. The two grow to respect each other, and it is implied that Lecter forms a romantic attachment to her. When I.J. "Multiple" Miggs, the prisoner in a cell four cells down and on the opposite side of the corridor from Lecter's, throws his semen into her face, Lecter "finds this discourtesy unspeakably ugly" and punishes Miggs by manipulating him into committing suicide.
Toward the end of the investigation, Lecter gives Starling a final clue: "This man covets, and how do we begin to covet? We covet what we see everyday." This helps Starling deduce that the killer knew one of his victims personally, and uses this to find "Buffalo Bill" in time to save the woman he had kidnapped, killing him in the ensuing struggle. Lecter escapes, killing two corrections officers, a staff of paramedics and a tourist whose identity he steals. He performs plastic surgery upon himself, and escapes to Europe, leaving Starling a note congratulating her on facing her personal demons.
 Winning Clarice
Lecter next appears in Hannibal, set seven years later, living in Florence, Italy, under the alias "Dr. Fell". There, he is the curator of the prestigious Capponi Library (having murdered the position's previous occupant). He reads in an American newspaper that Starling, now a full-fledged FBI agent, has been blamed for a botched drug raid and is in danger of losing her job. He sends her a hand-written note of encouragement, reigniting the manhunt. Wanting to draw Lecter from hiding, Starling's superior Paul Krendler joins forces with one of Lecter's surviving victims named Mason Verger, in an attempt to frame Starling for an inappropriate relationship with Lecter. After Krendler convinces the FBI of the faux relationship, Starling is placed upon investigative leave.
In Florence, Lecter learns that a corrupt detective named Rinaldo Pazzi has discovered him and informed Verger of his location. He kills Pazzi and returns to the United States to stalk Starling. During this time, Lecter is captured by Verger. Knowing that Verger has Lecter, Starling attempts a rescue of him in order to turn him over to the FBI. She is wounded in the attempt and Lecter kidnaps her, after convincing Verger's abused sister, Margot Verger, a former patient of Lecter, to kill her brother.
Lecter holds Starling in captivity and uses a variety of mind-altering drugs and psychological conditioning techniques to sublimate her personality and transform her into a surrogate for his sister Mischa. Starling's personality remains intact, however, and she mocks his attempts to break her spirit. She then offers Lecter her breasts, and the two become lovers. Lecter kidnaps and lobotomizes Krendler, and the two dine on his still-living brain. They then flee to Argentina, where they are spotted three years later by Barney Matthews.
Although the books suggest that Lecter cannot be diagnosed by characters within the universe, it is a much easier job when one can see Lecter's entire life. Within the framework of the DSM-IV TR, Lecter has pure Anti-Social Personality Disorder (in Axis 2), without any other accompanying anxiety or emotional disorders so far indicated (in Axis 1). It has been suggested in Red Dragon (the book) that he used to abuse animals, which is common in APD, but it is doubtful in light of Hannibal and Hannibal Rising. His crimes escalated before age 18, which is essential for APD. Along with this, Lecter has unusual brainwave patterns common in other sociopaths. It is safe to assume that Lecter is the victim of childhood trauma for his Axis 4 diagnosis. It is conceivable that Lecter could also have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because he probably ruminates about the stress in his childhood over and over, which would cause instability.
Supposedly, Lecter's murder fantasies center around "rudeness" and the control of it. Lecter has his own definition of "rudeness" which is a key to understanding his crimes. The connection between eating and "rudeness" is his sister, who was eaten by a band of Nazi deserters at the end of World War 2. In the movie Red Dragon, Lecter suggests that he would also eat the well meaning persons who have the intelligence and the focus to stop him in order to gain a portion of the desirable parts of their personalities. In that case, he wanted to eat someone's heart to gain their courage, which is out of sync with his main murder fantasy: the removal of rudeness from the world, or at least from Lecter's vicinity. Another idiosyncrasy happened during his incarceration, when he attacked a random nurse who was simply treating him in the asylum.
Lecter's killing pattern has three notable features. In no particular order, first, he does not search for victims, he waits for random persons to come to him (except in the case of his former overseer Fredrick Chilton whom he hunted down in South America). Second, he does not kill anyone of a specific gender, age, or body shape, which Starling in The Silence of the Lambs noted applied to Buffalo Bill, although he does only kill white persons. In Manhunter "Lecktor" is said to have killed only college women, but this is not canon. Third, he does not keep trophies of his victims, which Starling also noted.
 Film portrayal
Lecter has been portrayed by four different actors in the films, but the most referenced actor is British actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, who portrayed the character in three of the five films. Hopkins's portrayal of the character in the Silence of the Lambs won him an Academy Award in 1992, even though his screentime in the film as Lecter only spans just under 17 minutes. It still stands as the shortest lead role to ever win an Academy Award. Hopkins claimed that he drew inspiration for his portrayal of Lecter from HAL-9000, the villainous computer from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Hopkins was not the first actor to portray Lecter. Brian Cox portrayed Hannibal "Lecktor" in the 1986 film Manhunter. Cox said his characterization was inspired by Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel.
Gaspard Ulliel portrays Lecter as a young man in the 2007 film Hannibal Rising. Ulliel stated that he based his portrayal on Hopkins' and mixed it with his own style.
Aaron Thomas portrays Lecter as a child in Hannibal Rising.