“Nothing here is vegetarian” HANNIBAL, Season 1 Episode 7, (Fuller, 2013)

This episode is called “Sorbet” which, in a French menu, is the break, the refreshing fruit frappe served between courses to clear the palate. It’s all about preparing: not just the kitchen and the ingredients, but also the guests. It’s about content, and timing.

In this episode, we find out much about Hannibal, particularly the way he chooses and prepares his meat, but also some important psychological facts. We meet his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson – Dana Scully from X-Files). She knows a lot about Hannibal – not everything, but a lot more than Jack and Will and the entire FBI. But, like one of Hannibal’s feasts, she is going to serve us each dish when it, and we, are ready.

The episode starts with Will lecturing at the FBI Academy about the Chesapeake Ripper, who we (but no one else) know is really Hannibal. We learn a lot about how Will believes the Ripper views his victims, and about his methods.

vlcsnap-00006.jpg

A “sounder” is a collective term for pigs, and that is how Hannibal sees his victims – as pigs. Just as humans confine and slaughter pigs with barely a twinge of conscience, so Hannibal collects human organs for his freezer.

vlcsnap-00008.jpg

vlcsnap-00009.jpg

Organs are carefully removed. Like an earlier Ripper named Jack, the conclusion is that the killer has anatomical or surgical training (although Jack the Ripper may have been a butcher rather than a surgeon). Another important fact that Will tells the kids and us:

vlcsnap-00013.jpg

And so to the theatre we go, the concert hall in fact, where we hear a magnificent opera recital from the brilliant pen of Brian Reitzell, who went on, after Hannibal, to write the music for American Gods. Of course, we can’t just sit and enjoy it as Hannibal and his annoying patient Franklyn (and his friend Tobais) do, decked out in black tie and tux. No, we start with some lessons in anatomy and acoustics – the scene starts in the larynx of the singer and we then get to follow the music up her throat and into Hannibal’s ear.

After the recital, the Chairperson of the Baltimore Philharmonic gently chides Hannibal for not putting on one of his sumptuous feasts – she misses not just the food but the spectacle.

vlcsnap-00017.jpg

vlcsnap-00018.jpg

Hannibal replies that he is waiting for inspiration. Perhaps Franklyn provides it: as Hannibal rather testily dismisses him, he asks:

vlcsnap-00021.jpg

Hannibal is also busy torturing Jack with supposed calls from his missing student Miriam Lass. As Will puts it:

“The reason he left you Miriam Lass’s arm is so he could poke you with it.”

Meanwhile, Jack and Will are busy with a new killer, who the CSI gang are convinced is the Ripper (organs have been removed, if a bit sloppily). Will says no – this dude is collecting organs for sale, and trying to save the “donor” afterwards (without a great deal of success). This is not the MO of the Ripper:

So, asks Jack, how do you see the Ripper? Will considers, and then comes up with an analysis taken from Will’s analysis of Hannibal in Red Dragon (the book):

“… one of those pitiful things sometimes born in hospitals. They feed it. Keep it warm. But they don’t put it on the machines. They let it die. But he doesn’t die.”

vlcsnap-00039vlcsnap-00040

We finally meet Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal’s psychiatrist. It is perhaps not widely known that psychiatrists go to psychiatrists, but in view of the psychic storms they deal with daily, it makes sense. Hannibal later tells Will he started seeing a psychiatrist when he chose to become one.

Bedelia does not mince words. She is no longer practising, and stays available for Hannibal because she likes him. Turns out there are other reasons too, but we’ll save them for later episodes. She and Hannibal discuss honesty, and she shows that she can indeed be brutally honest:

vlcsnap-00046.jpg

She also tells him that she is his therapist, not his friend, something he recently told the distraught Franklyn, who is a version of Benjamin Raspail from the books, one of the Silence of the Lambs characters whose names were not released by MGM for the television production. Caught in his own trap, Hannibal must look for company or even friendship elsewhere. Could it be Will?

Hannibal and Will have a lot in common, particularly a fascination with the motivation of the Ripper.

vlcsnap-00052.jpg

We find out a lot more about Hannibal’s motivations in a series of montages showing how he chooses his victims (from their business cards) and the meal they will supply (from a set of menu cards in perfect copperplate handwriting).

He starts with a medical examiner who rudely accuses Hannibal of lying. Hannibal asks for his business card, and then appears when the man’s car mysteriously breaks down on a rainy road.

The rude medical examiner is found in a school bus, his top half sitting across the aisle from his bottom half. He is missing a kidney and his heart.

vlcsnap-00064.jpg

Will realises, though, that the mutilations are just theatre.

vlcsnap-00071.jpg

vlcsnap-00072.jpg

Hannibal and Alana prepare these organs for dinner (she presumably believes them to be from a different mammal) and duel flirtatiously as he tries to draw out what she knows about Will. Hannibal’s interest in Will is growing in each scene. He suspects Will can become a friend, perhaps even become an Übermensch like himself.

In the meantime, Hannibal is preparing his banquet for the Philharmonic. There is the montage of business cards and recipes involving liver pate, brisket, lungs and brains, and various business owners, who presumably have offended Hannibal’s intense dislike of discourtesy. This montage is accompanied by the rollicking “Golden Calf” aria sung by Mephistopheles in Gounod’s Faust.

“Le monstre abject insulte aux cieux! [The abject monster insults heaven!]”

vlcsnap-00083.jpg

vlcsnap-00084.jpg

This spate of mutilations leaves the investigation team baffled. No longer are they seeking an organ harvester – one of the victims is missing a spleen. Who on earth is waiting for a spleen transplant? There is only one explanation:

vlcsnap-00088.jpg

But despite the excitement of hunting and cooking, Hannibal is unhappy. There is a poignant scene of Hannibal sitting, forlorn, at his desk, checking his appointment book (last appointment Will Graham) as we hear, what else, the Mozart Requiem, the musical quintessence of melancholy.

vlcsnap-00090.jpg

He goes looking for Will, who is day-nightmaring about Abigail (who is calling him “Dad”) and girls mounted on antlers. Hannibal interrupts his bad dreams and sees the range of atrocity photographs will has been studying.

vlcsnap-00091.jpg

There follows a discussion of the possible motivations of the Ripper, in which Will is starting to get close to the truth. Hannibal suggests that perhaps the Ripper is displaying his enemies after death, as happens in many cultures. Will disagrees – “These aren’t the Ripper’s enemies. These are pests he’s swatted.” They are just being punished for undignified behaviour. Disgraced.

vlcsnap-00100.jpg

As he prepares his banquet, Hannibal tells Will why he gave up surgery:

vlcsnap-00108.jpg

vlcsnap-00110.jpg

vlcsnap-00111.jpg

This is news to us, although we know that, as a child, he was unable to save his sister Mischa – could this be an indirect reference? Anyway. There follows a wonderful montage of Hannibal’s banquet plates, followed by a round of applause from his guests, who are all about to become unaware cannibals.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

vlcsnap-00120.jpg

But before they can eat, Hannibal has a warning:

vlcsnap-00122.jpg

vlcsnap-00123.jpg

vlcsnap-00124.jpg

What they applaud now, they will later consider appalling, abject, psychologically shattering. The gross hypocrisy of their logic is impossible for even the brilliant Doctor Lecter to comprehend.

vlcsnap-00126.jpg

IF YOU LIKE MY BLOG, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO RECOMMEND IT (WITH DISCRETION) TO FRIENDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, YOU CAN USE THE TAG, OR EMAIL ME  ON CANNIBALSTUDIES@GMAIL.COM.

Who is the Ripper? HANNIBAL Season 1 Episode 6, (Fuller, 2013)

In this episode, we meet Abel Gideon (Eddie Izard), a doctor, like Hannibal, a killer, like Hannibal, and believed by Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza), the “keeper” of the Baltimore asylum for the criminally insane, to be the Chesapeake Ripper (who of course is really Hannibal). Gideon has been in the asylum for the last two years, since killing his wife and her family – on Thanksgiving. The murders ceased two years ago, and Chilton believes, therefore, that Gideon is the Ripper. Will doesn’t buy it.

Gideon kills a nurse in the psych hospital, a grisly murder which Will Graham kindly re-enacts for us (it’s just his thing), including a scene involving eyeballs that could come straight out of King Lear. The nurse’s body is laid out like the “wound man” diagram from mediaeval medical texts (the image that gave Hannibal away in Red Dragon). The nurse’s multiple wounds, however, were delivered post mortem, but Jack remembers taking his new recruit, Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky from Veep) to see a Ripper victim, where she deduces that the Ripper keeps the victim alive and conscious during the mutilations. Also, the Ripper removes organs, if only the yummy ones: liver and thymus.

Miriam Lass disappeared while illegally (with Jack’s tacit approval) chasing up the medical records of the victims of the Ripper. He is stricken with guilt and wants to catch the Ripper – enough to (as Will puts it) “get into bed” with Freddie Lounds whom they ask to publicly declare Gideon to be the Ripper. Hannibal is royally pissed off about this. No one gets to take credit for his work.

Now Jack is getting phone calls from Miriam – one while he is asleep in his bed, another from his bedroom while he is interviewing Gideon. Could she be alive after being classified as missing, presumed dead, for two years? The next one has a phone number attached – but when they trace it, they find not Miriam, but just her arm.

Miriam is present in this episode in flashbacks – always in black and white. Over a postprandial brandy, Hannibal asks Jack to share his memories of Miriam, but as the scene fades to a flashback, it is not Jack but Hannibal being interviewed by Miriam. She is asking him about a hunter he treated when a surgeon, who later became a victim of the Ripper. Then she finds a picture of the wound man on his desk (a direct reference to the way Will found out Hannibal in Red Dragon), and Hannibal comes up behind her in stockinged feet and grabs her by the neck.

So, dude – where’s my cannibal? No one is getting eaten in this episode, although there are hints of body parts being removed. But the episode is full of mental cannibalism – the preparation and consumption of thoughts. First – who are the psychopaths? Jack and Will are convinced Gideon is not the Chesapeake Ripper and hope to draw the real one out by getting Freddie to “confirm” a lie. They do something similar (insulting the Tooth Fairy) in the book/movie of Red Dragon, with rather drastic results. Freddie wants to know whether Gideon really is the Ripper. “Why not?” seems to be their reply. After all, Alana explains, “certain personalities are attracted to certain professions”. Psychopaths are attracted to roles as CEOs, lawyers and the clergy. Number five on the list, says Jack (and Miriam tells us the same thing in a flashback), is surgeons.

Number 6, sneers Will, is journalists. Number 7? Freddie makes Will say it: law enforcement. Well then:

Then we have that dinner party – our three favourite psychiatrists (at least until Bedelia makes an appearance next episode), those who feed on our diseased minds, discussing – what else? – tongues. Their tool, and their weapon.

Bloom and Chilton heap compliments as Hannibal serves one of his most gourmet dishes:

Inspired by August Escoffier, we are having Long Tangyuan en papillotte, served with a sauce of duxelles and oyster mushrooms. Picked myself.

They laugh about tongues (the main ingredient), although where would psychiatrists be without them? Alana hasn’t eaten tongue before; Hannibal responds that this was “a particularly chatty lamb” although who knows whose tongue it really is? Chilton, like all good dinner guests, has a story about the Romans, killing flamingos just to eat their tongues, and Hannibal responds with probably the second most famous Hannibal aphorism (after the one that got us all interested in Fava Beans):

Hannibal is speaking in tongues.

 

IF YOU LIKE MY BLOG, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO RECOMMEND IT (WITH DISCRETION) TO FRIENDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, YOU CAN USE THE TAG, OR EMAIL ME  ON CANNIBALSTUDIES@GMAIL.COM.

Cannibal hunter: “CHILD 44” (Espinosa, 2015)

Most cannibal movies are about the cannibal, but Child 44 is almost entirely about the cannibal-hunter. He is a member of Stalin’s secret police, the MGB, the predecessor of the KGB, and the movie is set in the last days of the Stalinist terror. The perp is torturing and killing children and surgically removing their organs, so our hero wants to, like, stop him. There is an administrative problem though: in the Socialist Paradise of the USSR, there is no such thing as murder; it is a capitalist crime. So the first case is put down as a train accident. Then there are 43 more – thus the title.

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-12h07m44s774.jpg

The film is based on the bestselling book by Tom Rob Smith, the first of a trilogy featuring former MGB Agent Leo Demidov. In the film, Leo is played by the English actor Tom Hardy, with a convincing mix of power and vulnerability that carries an otherwise rather overlong production. Leo is a war hero who planted the red flag on the Reichstag after the conquest of Berlin, and is now a senior investigator.

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-16h36m36s863.jpg

One of his friends from the Berlin days, Alexei (Fares Fares), also a MGB officer, finds that his little boy has been brutally murdered, but Leo has to persuade him to accept the official explanation that he was hit by a train.

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-18h29m20s092.jpg

The antagonist (not the killer, we barely see more than his legs or arms until half way through the film) is another veteran of Berlin named Vasili (Joel Kinnaman, who played the clean-cut Republican candidate running against Frank Underwood in House of Cards). He is a coward, liar, etc and manages to derail Leo’s career by accusing Leo’s wife, Raisa (Noomi Rapace from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) of being a spy. Stripped of his rank for refusing to denounce his (maybe) pregnant wife, Leo must start his investigation as a mere militiaman in a remote town. He is under the command of a General played by the brilliant Gary Oldman, who has portrayed everyone from Dracula to Beethoven, Sirius Black to George Smiley, Winston Churchill to Mason Verger (in Hannibal the movie).

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-18h26m01s802.jpg

The General has two boys and is not pleased when another dead boy, with organs surgically removed, is found nearby. He arrests the man who found the body, not because he thinks he is the killer but because he is gay, and he assumes that a gay man must be responsible (also because homosexuality was a crime in the Soviet Union). But rounding up all the gay men in town doesn’t stop the killings. The killer is seen picking up a boy in a station, later making sweets (where would archetypal paedophiles be without bags of sweets) and still later abusing himself for being weak and prone to remorse.

vlcsnap-2018-11-30-18h15m16s015.jpg

The film, as I said, is based on a book, which is based on the true story of Andrei Chikatilo, the “Rostov Ripper”, who was eventually convicted of 52 murders, although he confessed to more. Chikatilo was able to continue his killing spree from 1978 to 1995, due to a combination of general ineptitude, official denial of the concept of a Soviet serial killer, and luck (apparently his semen had a different grouping to his blood). He claimed that he had been told by his mother that his older brother had been kidnapped and cannibalised by starving neighbours when he was little. This may have been her way of trying to scare him into behaving, but he was born in Ukraine at the time of the Holodomor, when Stalin was busy starving millions of people to death as part of the process of Collectivisation, so could well have been true.  Chikatilo was a self-confessed cannibal, stating that he gained sexual satisfaction from torturing his victims, and would sometimes drink their blood and eat their nipples and tongues. The real Chikatilo was far more depraved than depicted in this movie. There is a list of his crimes at the criminal minds website.

Andrei_Romanovich_Chikatilo_Trial_1992.jpg
Andrei Chikatilo

This film has a lot going for it, particularly a first-rate cast, some good action scenes, and a lot of sets which capture the oppressive darkness of Stalinist Russia. But it has a lot of problems too. It’s over two hours and gets a bit tedious in parts, and the decision to have a bunch of English, Swedish, Lebanese, Polish and even Australian actors speak in English with heavy Russian accents to make it seem “authentic” was widely derided by critics. The Guardian critic called the film “an Iron Curtain version of ‘Allo ‘Allo”.

With a Rotten Tomato rating of only 26%, the film bombed at the box office, grossing just $13 million against its $50 million budget. It was banned in Russia, with the Minister of Culture accusing the film of making the Soviet Union look like Mordor. Outrageous of course. Stalin was far worse than Sauron.

And perhaps the worst thing? Just as the Soviets would not admit that there was a serial killer in their paradise, this film does not approach the fact that he was also a cannibal (although it refers briefly to the widespread cannibalism of the Ukrainian famine). It asks some important questions about social ethics and who is actually responsible for people like Chikatilo, the individual or the state and its terrorist organisations. But without people getting eaten, it’s just another very long murder mystery.vlcsnap-2018-11-30-18h59m44s130.jpg

IF YOU LIKE MY BLOG, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO RECOMMEND IT (WITH DISCRETION) TO FRIENDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, YOU CAN USE THE TAG, OR EMAIL ME  ON CANNIBALSTUDIES@GMAIL.COM.

Inside the shell: HANNIBAL season 1 episode 5 “Coquilles” (Fuller, 2013)

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-19h55m44s814vlcsnap-2018-11-23-19h55m48s413

The fifth episode of the first season of Hannibal is called “Coquilles” which is the shellfish dish at a grand French banquet. Consider the nature of a shellfish – soft and vulnerable inside, yet presenting a hard, almost impenetrable surface to the world. Know any humans like that?

Things go on inside us that no one can know. That’s the theme of this episode.

vlcsnap-2018-11-22-23h03m48s382.jpg

Will Graham is walking barefoot in the middle of a highway, closely followed by a stag, and we are starting to realise that things are going on inside Will as well, things even he cannot understand. This stag is a fascinating piece of symbolism, and there are numerous pages and some fiery debates on the Internet about what he represents, or even what he is called: Stagman and Ravenstag are commonly used, but there are others too. Bryan Fuller calls him a Wendigo. Throughout the series, he comes in various shapes: the stag with raven feathers, or sometimes a man with stag antlers and apparently charred skin.

Image result for wendigo hannibal
Image from Deviant Art

The Wendigo (sometimes Wetigo) is a figure from North American Algonquin folklore. He is a mythical figure – giant, fierce and cannibalistic. He gathers strength from feeding on human flesh, but the flesh makes him grow larger, and so his appetite can never be satisfied. The Wendigo is able to return from death unless destroyed by fire, and some stories say that his bite will infect the victim and turn him into a Wendigo too.

In the show, this figure often stands in for Hannibal as Will struggles to understand that his friend is the Chesapeake Ripper, and Will is surprised to find a statue of a stag in Hannibal’s office. But, more generally, the giant form of the stag represents the animal inside each of us, the incongruity of our belief that we somehow transcend our animal selves, while in fact our basic instincts and appetites continue to drive us. Welcome to the Wendigo syndrome, a voracious appetite, which made the Native Americans believe that the white man was afflicted with a Wendigo disease when they saw him steal their lands and slaughter their people.

Anyway, the police pick up Will, and the stag walking behind him turns out to be his favourite mutt, Winston. They take him home and, next morning, Hannibal has some significant remarks on Will’s fragile state and Jack’s manipulative practices, and the way Jack got Will back on the job.

vlcsnap-2018-11-22-23h08m00s927.jpg

The creepy dude, called “the angel-maker” who is the one-episode antagonist for this one has a special power – he can see demonic people. Where we see a nice couple going to their room in a motel, he looks up from his ice bucket and sees a couple of demons with burning skulls.

These sort of delusions never end well, and in this case, their holiday ends with them on their knees, hands clasped in prayer, and the skin of their backs flayed and suspended from the ceiling. They have been turned into angels, praying for the crazy dude who, the team figures out, has a brain tumour and is terrified of dying in his sleep. Turns out his victims are not quite as innocent as we think either. Seems angel-maker really can sense bad dudes. He’s doing, Will tells us, God’s work. He’s making angels out of demons.

vlcsnap-2018-11-22-23h12m43s787.jpg

vlcsnap-2018-11-22-23h15m08s502.jpg

Meanwhile, Jack and his wife Bella are having dinner at Hannibal’s table, and Hannibal’s keen sense of smell tells him what Jack hasn’t figured out yet: Bella is also dying of cancer. Jack just thinks she is having an affair.

vlcsnap-2018-11-22-23h15m29s903.jpg

Hannibal serves a delicacy – “a masterpiece foie gras au torchon with a late harvest of vidal sauce with dried and fresh figs”. Bella declines the course, due to the well-known cruelty involved in producing foie gras. This leads to a fascinating conversation about the nature of the human/animal binary and the human predilection toward cruelty.

Hannibal: too rich?

Bella: too cruel.

Hannibal: First and worst sign of sociopathic behaviour – cruelty to animals.

Jack: that doesn’t apply in the kitchen.

Hannibal: I have no taste for animal cruelty. Which is why I employ an ethical butcher.

Bella: be kind to animals and then eat them?

Hannibal: I’m afraid I insist on it. No need for unnecessary suffering. Human emotions are a gift from our animal ancestors. Cruelty is a gift humanity has given itself.

For the next course, Hannibal serves roasted pork shank.

vlcsnap-2018-11-22-23h18m00s140.jpg

Later, Bella comes to consult Hannibal as her psychiatrist. She is unwilling to tell Jack about her fatal diagnosis, because he has enough to worry about. Or because she is having enough trouble working out her own response to death, and has no desire to deal with how Jack will respond. Hannibal gives her a look – is it a kind of empathy?

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-17h37m57s213.jpg

Meanwhile, Hannibal is still working on Will, turning him against Jack. Just as the angel-maker has feelings of abandonment, so Will might feel abandoned by Jack – Jack has abandoned him “in the way gods abandon their creation”. Hannibal wants Will to change creative deities, become Hannibal’s protege. It’s working too: Will tells Jack off and is forced to apologise when Jack barks “I didn’t hear that! Did I?” (a line from the book Red Dragon, although not spoken by Jack in that text).

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-18h13m27s478.jpg

They track down the angel-maker’s wife, who explains how she withdrew from him and ended up leaving him as the cancer progresses. A rather dark light bulb goes on for Jack.

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-18h27m03s376vlcsnap-2018-11-23-18h27m05s695vlcsnap-2018-11-23-18h27m08s256

Will is getting worse – the headaches, the sleep walking, and the hallucinations. Just as the angel-maker has a brain tumour and Bella has lung cancer, Will also has hidden things going on: beneath the hard surface of his coquille he has encephalitis. Hannibal, with his unerring sense of smell, knows it immediately, but he is not going to tell anyone about it. He is going to use it, to draw Will towards his becoming.

This is his design.

vlcsnap-2018-11-23-19h56m02s257.jpg

Creepy old cannibal dude – THE GRAY MAN (Flynn, 2007)

The movie starts at St. John’s Orphanage in Washington in 1882. A young Albert Fish and other children are being beaten, to drive out their sins.

01 orhanage beatings.JPG

Fast forward to Albert Fish (Patrick Bauchau) as an adult. He remembers, in a voiceover, a horse that some older boys at the orphanage set on fire; how the horse galloped off, trying to get away from the fire, but of course taking the fire with him. Fish compares himself to that horse.

“The fire chases you, and catches you, and then it’s in your blood. After that, it’s the fire that has control, not the man.
Blame the fire of passion for what Albert H. Fish has done.”

Scott Flynn’s debut film is not just a very well made and pretty creepy thriller / horror movie, it is an accurate retelling of the story of Albert H. Fish, who killed several children in the 1920s, and ate parts of their bodies.

03 grandaughter - I'm no good with little ones
Albert Fish (Patrick Bauchau) with his grand-daughter. He hands her back to his daughter saying “I’m no good with little ones”. Truer words were never spoken.

Fish never got over the beatings at the orphanage, and is seen in the film whipping himself with a belt, interspersed with images of himself in the orphanage, watched by a pale boy – his younger self. That’s not the least of it: an X-ray found dozens of needles he had inserted into his groin for further punishment. In a sense, he punished himself in advance for sins he felt he was driven to commit.

02 self flag.JPG

The film is structured around a film noir-style narration by Detective Will King (Jack Conley), of the NY Missing Persons Bureau.

Fish kills a boy scout, who is found by the other scouts hanging from a tree, his calf removed.

04 Scouts find Francis.JPG

Then comes the famous case: Fish sees a newspaper ad from a young man, Edward Budd (Eric Parker), who is looking for work, but when he visits the Budd family home, he is smitten by young Grace (Lexi Ainsworth), Edward’s ten year old sister, whom he stares at throughout the interview. No one seems to find this creepy, and when Fish comes back to pick up Edward and his friend, he suggests that Grace accompany him to his niece’s birthday party at Columbus and 135th – when he returns her, he says, he’ll pick up the boys. The mother (Jillian Armenante) has qualms, as well she might, but the father urges her to let Grace go. So, they have lunch. The father says “Let’s eat – I’m starved.” Fish replies: “Me too.” But it’s not for what the Budd’s are putting on their table.

05 smitten with Grace.JPG

Of course, there is no party, no niece, no such street as 135th Street, and no return for Grace. When they get off the train, Grace dives back into the carriage to retrieve a package Fish has forgotten. She thinks it’s a present for the niece; it’s actually a bone saw that he bought earlier. Grace is picking flowers when Fish calls her into the creepy old house, purportedly to hide for the surprise party; the door slams shut. Fade to next scene. Fish is eating raw meat.

06 so pleased to see you grace.JPG

Detective King searches for Grace Budd for six years, despite the department closing the case and the public forgetting about young Grace. Fish hasn’t forgotten though, and when he finds a stationery package in his room while chasing a cockroach, he writes to Grace’s mother, a break which finally allows Will to track down and arrest Fish. In the letter, Fish describes the crime in graphic detail, but modestly added that Grace had died a virgin – I guess he thought Mrs Budd would find that comforting. The movie gradually has Fish read the parts of the letter regarding the killing, chopping up and eating of Grace, although it omits the earlier section which told of his friend who returned from China in 1894, where:

“all children under 12 were sold to the Butchers to be cut up and sold for food… A boy or girls behind which is the sweetest part of the body and sold as veal cutlet brought the highest price”

The letter is quoted in full, with its dodgy grammar, in Wikipedia.

Fish said that this story had given him the idea:

“He told me so often how good human flesh was I made up my mind to taste it.”

In the trial, a psychiatrist with a suitably Germanic accent testifies that Fish told him that:

“What I did must have been right, or an angel would have stopped me, just as the angel stopped Abraham in the Bible.”

Genesis 22 has a lot to answer for.

Fish is found guilty, despite the psychiatrist’s evidence of his insanity, and put to death in the electric chair. The pale boy follows him down the corridor to the execution room.

99 Albert_Fish_1903.JPG
The real Albert Fish

150px-Grace_budd.gif
The real Grace Budd

The true number of Fish’s victims will never be known. He claimed to have “had children in every state” but whether he was referring to rape, murder or cannibalism, or just bragging, cannot be established. Fish was finally caught because he killed and ate Grace Budd, a white girl: he admitted that he mostly chose children who were mentally handicapped or African-American as his victims, explaining that he assumed the police would not look too hard for them. The fact that it took six years to catch him, and that this film does not even mention them, would seem to prove him right.

DVD.jpg

The DVD cover shows Albert and Grace heading for the deserted house where she will be killed and eaten. The tag line is interesting: “a real life Hannibal Lecter”‘ would eat anyone who compared him to Albert Fish.

The full movie is not easy to find. There is a copy on Youtube, but it is not great quality.

 

IF YOU LIKE MY BLOG, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO RECOMMEND IT (WITH DISCRETION) TO FRIENDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, YOU CAN USE THE TAG, OR EMAIL ME  ON CANNIBALSTUDIES@GMAIL.COM.

Happy families: Hannibal Season 1 episode 4 “Œuf” (Fuller, 2013)

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-13h58m04s187.png

“Œuf” on a French menu means egg, and from eggs of course come children – families. This episode features a woman (played by Molly Shannon) who is abducting children – middle children who have a grievance against their families. She persuades them that she is their family, and that they can only have one family. So she takes them back home to kill their “previous” families. This, as Will would say, is her design.

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-13h47m14s350.png

Will, by this episode, is in deep psychoanalysis with Hannibal, and is discussing his feeling that he is somehow psychically linked to Abigail’s father, Garret Jacob Hobbs, whom Will shot in Episode 1, a shooting that left will “psychologically incapacitated” as Fuller said in an interview. He feels like he was doing the same things, even perhaps at the same times – having a shower perhaps – as Hobbs. “You could sense his madness, like a bloodhound” Hannibal tells him. “Like – you were becoming him.” Will snaps back “I know who I am. I’m not Garret Jacob Hobbs, Doctor Lecter.” But could he become that? Will, says Hannibal, created a family for himself. No, not his houseful of stray dogs. He is referring to Abigail. She is now on the way to become Will’s family. This, perhaps, is Hannibal’s design.

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-13h58m22s722.png

Meanwhile, Abigail is immersed in grief and trauma, having lost her family very suddenly (and violently) in Episode 1. Hannibal is determined to do something about that, and of course it involves psychological manipulation – of everyone involved. He takes Abigail to his home, against her doctor’s wishes (Alana Bloom) and cooks her sausages and eggs – the last meal she had with her family, the first meal with him as her new family. He makes her a tea of hallucinogenic psilocybin mushrooms, asks if she trusts him, and it produces in her the confusion he has planned.

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-23h08m01s944.jpg

She smashes a teacup, a crucial image for Hannibal, representing his longing to be able to turn back time, and restore his eaten sister to life. Hannibal is obsessed with Stephen Hawking’s description of entropy as proof of the “arrow of time” – we “know” that time only flows one way because a shattered teacup does not gather itself back together (Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, pages 152-3). Hannibal likes Hawking’s early theory that, when the universe stops expanding, time will reverse and entropy mend itself; the teacup will rise and become whole again. Mischa will return, uneaten. Hannibal is apparently a believer in Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence, although, as he picks up the broken shards, it looks like he might also believe he can break the causal chain and restore his family, but through Abigail and Will.

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-23h08m59s188.jpg

vlcsnap-2018-11-10-23h08m49s183.jpg

When Alana appears, furious, he apologises, tells her she is right, he was wrong, that Abigail was not ready and that he has given her a mild sedative (half a Valium). Now Hannibal does not apologise as a rule, and this is not a genuine apology of course but another manipulation.

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-14h24m25s547.png

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-14h24m42s304.png

Abigail is not mildly sedated; she is tripping out across the universe, and although she recognises Alana, it is not long before she sees the faces of her parents across the table – the family squabble resolved, she sees – family. She sees mother (Alana) and father (Hannibal) as her dead parents. Can she eventually learn to see two daddies?

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-14h09m38s171

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-14h09m40s651

They capture the family-killing gang, and Jack talks to the boy who was (maybe) just about to become the latest family killer. The boy tells Jack that he, Jack, cannot understand families, because he doesn’t have children. In bed that night, we finally meet Jack’s wife Phyllis, whom Jack calls Bella (Gina Torres from Suits, who is Laurence Fishburne’s real life wife). Even Hannibal hasn’t met Bella yet, despite already turning Jack into an “innocent” cannibal with his boudin noir (blood sausage) from Ali Bab’s Gastronomie Practique.

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-13h59m34s229.png

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-13h59m36s093.png

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-14h00m19s598.png

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-13h59m43s751.png

Jack asks Bella if it’s too late for them to have kids. She turns away, her eyes hooded – “it is for me” she replies. Although he is head of Behavioural Science, Jack cannot understand what problem she is hinting about. We know, of course, or at least we do if we have read or seen Silence of the Lambs.

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-14h25m40s305vlcsnap-2018-11-09-14h25m50s919

Sorry – no more spoilers.

This episode was originally set to be broadcast on April 25, 2013. However, five days earlier, the episode was pulled from the broadcast schedule in the U.S. at the request of creator Bryan Fuller, and instead appeared on the Internet as “webisodes”. The episode was still shown in other countries. It was widely reported that this was in response to the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15, but in fact, the change had been notified some hours before the bombing happened. It seems likely that this change (they showed episode 5 instead) was due to the Sandy Hook shootings the previous December, in which 20 children aged six or seven and six school staff were gunned down. America was traumatised once again as families were torn apart by gun violence.

The episode is all about families – we find out about Will’s family (poor, moving around as his father looked for work in shipyards), Jack’s (lack of) family, Abigail’s recently killed family, the murdered families of the so-called “lost boys”, the friendly badinage among the Behavioral Analysis Unit who are almost a family themselves. We even get a tiny but delicious taste of Hannibal’s family. He lost his parents when he was very young; he was “the proverbial orphan” until adopted from the orphanage by his uncle at the age of 16. We are suddenly accessing material from the book Hannibal Rising rather than Red Dragon, although of course without World War II to explain the circumstances (this series gives us a much more millennial Hannibal).

vlcsnap-2018-11-09-13h57m53s267

No wonder Hannibal is cooking eggs. No wonder the episode is titled “Œuf”.

 

If you like my blog, please feel free to recommend it (with discretion) to friends on social media.
If you have any questions or comments, you can use the tag, or email me  on cannibalstudies@gmail.com.

Hiding the bodies – HANNIBAL Season 1 Episode 3 “Potage” (Fuller, 2013)

As you probably know by now, the episodes in the series Hannibal are named after courses in fine dining. Episodes one and two were the pilots, the ones that established the characters, let us in on secrets they didn’t know, and gave us a taste of what was to come. No on-going story arc you could really get your teeth into though.

vlcsnap-2018-10-28-17h45m56s101.jpg

Episode 3 is called “potage” which is a thick vegetable soup. Can’t really get our teeth into soup, but it is very nourishing and warming. It looked in the earlier episodes as if this was going to be an episodic show: the secret cannibal would lead the hyper-empathetic FBI Special Agent to capture some single-episode outsider – a serial killer whose whole purpose was to be caught by this team while we giggle and point like kids at a pantomime: look Mum, they still haven’t seen the real bad guy! But there is no new serial killer introduced here. This episode is all about Abigail Hobbs, the orphaned daughter of the serial killer shot dead by Will Graham in the first episode. Her father cut her throat before Will filled him full of lead. The mushroom man from episode 2 tried to kidnap her to feed his mycelium. Now she has woken up, to a lot more than the FBI has managed to figure out.

You may remember from episode 2 Hannibal saying:

“I feel a staggering amount of obligation. I feel responsibility. I’ve fantasised about scenarios where my actions may have led to a different fate for Abigail Hobbs.”

Now he gets his chance. Abigail is becoming a surrogate sister to Hannibal who later will admit to eating his real sister Mischa (not to killing her though). He accuses Will of making her a surrogate daughter, which Will does not deny.

vlcsnap-2018-10-29-10h51m48s122.jpg

Abigail is smart and sassy and a step ahead of everyone at the FBI, even though she is still deeply traumatised by the death of her parents. In a flashback, she is seen hunting with her father, shooting a deer. She asks him the questions that perhaps we have all asked our parents at some time: was it OK to kill? Wasn’t that deer smart? Don’t they care for each other and their environment? All the reasons we give to valorise human life, applied to those who are like us.

vlcsnap-2018-10-28-17h44m41s271vlcsnap-2018-10-28-17h44m44s348vlcsnap-2018-10-28-17h44m47s590vlcsnap-2018-10-28-17h44m50s508vlcsnap-2018-10-28-17h44m53s706

Her father loved her dearly and hated that she was growing up and would leave him. His response is to kill young girls who look just like Abigail, because he can’t bring himself to kill her.  He answers her question, in a way, saying that he is “honouring” the deer by using ever part of her. This is the carnivore cop-out: as long as the kill is clean and the corpse not wasted, then it’s OK to kill. Her father feels the same way about eating young women; Hannibal feels the same about eating rude people. When Abigail expresses doubts about eating the doe, her father grabs her arm: eating her is honouring her, otherwise it’s just murder. The logic of the serial killer. And factory farm corporation.

 

Will, Hannibal and Alana take Abigail back to her home where her mother and father died and she almost died; someone has scrawled graffiti all over the doors: the word “cannibals”.

vlcsnap-2018-10-28-18h12m50s767.jpg

And there is another complication – the brother of the girl killed by the copycat (really Hannibal of course) has come to accuse Abigail of murder, since most people (including Jack Crawford) consider her an accomplice to her father. Then there’s her best friend from school who tells her that everyone (else) thinks she’s guilty. The extras all end up dead (Abigail, like her surrogate brother Hannibal, wields a mean knife) Hannibal arranges everything so that the distressed brother appears to be the killer, and then they hide the body.

vlcsnap-2018-10-28-23h16m39s933.jpg

Abigail is further traumatised – even for a girl who shoots innocent deer, watching your father kill your mother and then cut your throat, finding your best friend’s body and then killing the boy whose sister was the previous victim: these are not soothing experiences. Her brain is working fine though: she realises that dear odd dad was feeding them girl meat; she finds the pillows at home are stuffed with girl hair.

vlcsnap-2018-10-28-22h56m24s670vlcsnap-2018-10-28-22h56m28s550vlcsnap-2018-10-28-23h00m59s231vlcsnap-2018-10-28-23h11m58s368

She escapes from hospital and finds herself on the top level of Hannibal’s library. He gallantly helps her off the ladder and offers to help – but only if she asks. Dracula had a similar line – he had to be invited in.

vlcsnap-2018-10-28-23h14m22s086.jpg

Abigail tells Hannibal she knows: Hannibal is the one who called to warn her Dad. And he called as a serial killer.

 

He has promised to keep her secrets; now she promises to keep his. Just as his real sister Mischa might have done – if she hadn’t been eaten.

 

IF YOU LIKE MY BLOG, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO RECOMMEND IT (WITH DISCRETION) TO FRIENDS ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS, YOU CAN USE THE TAG, OR EMAIL ME ON CANNIBALSTUDIES@GMAIL.COM.