Friday, January 8, 2010

Hannibal Lecter

This is a little early, but if you read my book, you may notice frequent mentions of and references to Hannibal Lecter. This is simply because Thomas Harris is my hero. I know very little about him, only how his stories have affected me and so many others. You know, by scaring the sheet out of us.

I love pretty much all the books and all the movies, differences aside. I do have something to say about "Hannibal," though. This may not really seem to pertain to MY book, but really, the stories have had a big influence, and Hannibal and Clarice are one of the best...oh, hold on


strong woman and monstrous sort of man couples in literature. Admit it. Monstrous men can be pretty sexy. Okay, so maybe that's not the common view of Dr. Lecter, but look at how well vampire romance does out there? Sid and Phyllis from my book are an EXTREMELY inappropriate couple (and they won't be a couple just yet) but, well, that's one of the things that makes the attraction between them bigger. And thicker.
Anyway, being a college student, I recently had to write a couple final papers. Blegh. Luckily, one of them was on "The Silence of the Lambs," which after "Rosemary's Baby," is my favorite horror book/movie. I spent a ton of time skimming articles online about the books and the characters and such, and I was surprised at some of the things I read about Hannibal. Er, "Hannibal," the book.

Now, if you have not read the book but you have seen the movies, you might know that Jodie Foster declined to work on "Hannibal" because of the way Clarice Starling is treated...and she never really finds her way out of it, in the film. Jodie said something like she "couldn't trample" on Clarice's character. The best thing that happens in that movie aside in terms of Clarice is that Paul Krendler gets eaten. That guy was an asshole, I don't know if I can think of a bigger asshole in literature right now. (I should probably name someone from "A Tale of Two Cities" or something, but I'm not going to give it much thought because Krendler really was that big of an asshole.) The movie ends with Hannibal sacrificing his arm to escape without hurting Clarice (which WAS romantic in its way). Clarice is left behind, probably to deal with more FBI bullshit. The last scene is Hannibal on a plane, letting a little boy try some leftover brain. Cute ending, well-written given the changes they had to make.

But the book...the book is so much better. I read the book long after I first saw the movie (which was at 11 or 12, thanks to my best friend Lacey) and I'm so glad I did. I would have been furious if I'd known right off that they changed Thomas Harris's ending. It's just...perfect. It just works.

Then again, maybe not. Because to my surprise, many fans lashed out at this book because of the way it ended; that is, the union of Hannibal and Clarice. The guy who wrote the article I was reading said it was probably because the other Hannibal books showed a much more defined and black and white version of good and evil; Hannibal being evil, Clarice being good. For two characters who represent those things to mesh is, well, intriguing to me but infuriating to many others, I guess. One person wrote "Harris has lost a fan" and another wrote that Clarice would never really go with Hannibal, that it went against her character. It made sense to me, though, and as soon as I'm done rereading "Hannibal," I'm sure I'll be willing to argue the ending with anyone who wants to. It was a much better ending than the terribly sad and incomplete one seen in the film. Harris sealed up that story pretty tightly and evenly, giving all characters a deserved resolution. Even if it hadn't been a happy ending for me, I would only have asked for fair resolution. The movie gave little resolution, and while the last scene was smart and relatively creepy, it didn't have the resounding horror (and closure) of the book's finale, where Barney recognizes Hannibal and Clarice at an opera and leaves just as fast as he can because he's no fool.

Man. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. How's that for a dangerous power couple? (shrug) Like I said, I'll always think it was the perfect ending. But maybe after I read the book again I'll gain a better understanding of the other side of the argument.

I guess SOME of the point of all this Hannibal stuff is not only to explain the frequent references in the book, but to explain that I'm someone who can believe in a couple like Lecter and Starling, no matter how wrong they may seem to many others. It's not that hard, really. I mean, look at Twilight. Edward Cullen's basically like a reformed serial killer, right? :P

I kid you of course. I'm just anticipating that when and if this book reaches anyone's radar, there's going to be at least one person who doesn't approve of the occasional flirtatious moments between Sid and Phyllis because of age or morals or maybe it won't even seem to make sense at some points. And this person will demand that I change the story! Or say that it's highly inappropriate and I should be ashamed.

And I'll whisper, "No."

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