19th Athens International Film Festival

Must Read για τις Νύχτες Πρεμιέρας

elm0sh

19nyxtespremierasAfter having this blog for a year, i have finally gotten to the point where i report about the same things i did last year. Life is cyclical and repetitive. There are some events that have become traditions in my life. One of these is Athens’ International Film Festivalwhich turns 19 this year, and i can say with certainty that i have been attending faithfully for at least 16 years now (for the life of me i cannot recall if i did go before 1997).

The festival takes place from 18 September to 29 September at Danaos Cinema, Ideal, Odeon Opera, Pallas, the Film Archive, Ianos Bookstore and various bars around town. Along with the memories of previous years, i bring to mind that in the past the festival was housed at Attikon and Apollon cinemas, which were burned down during riots a couple of years ago. Those…

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“Κειμενάκια” και επιστολές, και ένα hikikomori ΝΑ, με το συμπάθιο.

Δεν ξέρω τι φταίει που τελευταία θέλω να βγω στους δρόμους και να χορεύω με θυμό σαν τον Bret τον Mc Kenzie,

και να τα σπάσω όλα, ΌΛΑ!

Δεν ξέρω αν φταίει που με πονάει το δόντι μου και αναρωτιέμαι όλη μέρα αν είναι απόστημα και μετά σκέφτομαι “Oh how apt, How very psychosomatic!” και μετά με μισώ λίγο που σκέφτομαι στα αγγλικά, αν και δεν θα πρεπε, γιατί δεν είναι τόσο κακό πράγμα, είναι η φυσική εξέλιξη του να διαβάζεις, να βλέπεις, να ακούς πράγματα μόνο στα αγγλικά· αλλά και πάλι μου φαίνεται έτσι κάπως δήθεν, μάλλον γιατί κάποιος, κάποτε, μου είπε ότι είναι δήθεν να πετάω λέξεις στα αγγλικά και τώρα γιατί εγώ αυτόν τον douchebag τον πήρα στα σοβαρά και από τότε ντρέπομαι κάθε φορά που μιλάω μισοαγγλικά-μισοελληνικά (δηλαδή συνέχεια), θα σε γελάσω…

Δεν ξέρω αν φταίει που είχα δύσκολο PMS αυτό το μήνα, που έχω τερματίσει το hikikomori, ή που η συνήθης δυσθυμία μου έχει αρχίσει και το γυρίζει σε φουλ κομπλέ κλινική κατάθλιψη. Μπορεί να φταίει η έλλειψη σεξ, μπορεί να φταίνε τα κακά γονίδια που κληρονόμησα από τον μπαμπά (ήταν ο πιο οργίλος άνθρωπος που έχω γνωρίσει), μπορεί να φταίει η αφραγκία μου.

Μπορεί να φταίει που διαβάζω στο timeline μου συμπαθέστατους κατά τα άλλα πιτσιρικάδες, που γράφουν, λέει, “κειμενάκια” σε μουσικά sites, κι αναρωτιούνται πώς γράφεται το “έχοντας”, με όμικρον ή ωμέγα, και πιάνω τον εαυτό μου να σκέφτεται “Ελπίζω αυτό το παλικάρι να μην πληρώνεται γι’αυτή την δουλειά” και καπάκι βέβαια φουλάρω τύψεις και ενοχές που σκέφτηκα τέτοια κακία,

Αλλά ρε φίλε,

Όχι! Μη! Μη γράφεις, να χαρείς.

Έχεις μουσικές γνώσεις και θες να τις αξιοποιήσεις; Σούπερ. Πάνε κάνε ραδιοφωνική εκπομπή! Πάνε παίξε τις μουσικές σου στα bars! Στην τελική αν θες σώνει και ντε να γράψεις, πάνε γράψε στο blog σου. Μην σε ακούσω όμως να λες ότι είσαι editor σε μουσικό site, γιατί τότε δεν θα το γλιτώσεις το angry dance montage. Και πριν αρχίσεις τα “το content είναι το σημαντικό, όχι η ορθογραφία”, θα σου πω ότι για κάποιον που γράφει “κειμενάκια” οπουδήποτε έξω από το προσωπικό του blog, θα πρέπει να είναι όλα εξίσου γαμημένα σημαντικά, και η ορθογραφία, και η γραμματική, και το συντακτικό, και το content, και το λογοτεχνικό του ύφος, ΌΛΑ.

Που λες, ναι… Φταίνε κι αυτά. Μα πιο πολύ φταίει το απόστημα. Όχι το δικό μου, αυτό θα μου περάσει με μια αντιβίωση και όλα καλά. Το άλλο το απόστημα λέω, το μεγάλο. Την ελληνική σαπίλα που πλέον ξεχύνεται στους δρόμους, μπαίνει μέσα στα σπίτια μας, και είναι βρωμερή και απαίσια, και εμετική, και τώρα πια είναι παντού·

είναι σε όλες τις οθόνες μας, στους γλίτσες τους Κωστόπουλους και στους λοιπούς θρασείς φελλούς που ακόμα επιπλέουν στις τηλεοράσεις μας (σας, εγώ την ανοίγω μόνο για να τη συνδέσω με τον εξωτερικό και να δω τις σειρές μου, τις ταινίες μου, τα ντοκιμαντέρ μου, και φυσικά μπορώ να γίνω ακόμα πιο σνομπ αλλά δε θέλω να βγω εκτός θέματος)·

είναι στις αμέτρητες fb σελίδες τύπου “osoi efugan ston ourano einai kapou ekei kai mas prosexun” (328k likes), που ποστάρουν δίαιτες, άστρα, και pics με νεογέννητα και από πάνω σχόλια τύπου “350.000 εκτρώσεις το 2012, πρέπει να σταματήσει η εθνική γενοκτονία !!!” ·

είναι στα google plus invites που μου σκάνε από Νεοναζί…

ΕΙΝΑΙ ΣΤΑ GOOGLE PLUS INVITES ΠΟΥ ΜΟΥ ΣΚΑΝΕ ΑΠΟ ΝΕΟΝΑΖΙ.

Είναι φυσικά και στις επιστολές του ομοφοβικού newsbomb (στον γραμματικό/ορθογραφικό έλεγχο το wordpress μου ζητά να μετατρέψω το “ομοφοβικό” σε απλά “φοβικό”, Χοχό), “του πιο  popular ελληνικού ενημερωτικού site”. Δε θα κάτσω να το πολυαναλύσω το θέμα. Όλοι όσοι έχουν twitter ή fb account, ξέρουν το story. Από όλο αυτό εγώ κράτησα μόνο το ότι έχασε ένας άνθρωπος τη δουλειά του, ενώ την έκανε τόσο καλά. Και στην Ελλάδα είναι κάτι τόσο σπάνιο (θυμήσου την τελευταία φορά που είπες, “Μαν, αυτός ο τύπος ξέρει τι κάνει, κάνει καλά την δουλειά του!”) που από μόνο του είναι αρκετό για να θες να τα σπάσεις. Αυτό με εκνεύρισε πιο πολύ και από το ξεδιάντροπα ομοφοβικό «Είστε υπέρ της προκλητικής έκθεσης των συναισθηματικών εκδηλώσεων των ομοφυλοφίλων σε δημόσιους χώρους;» και από το γαμημένο βέβαια privillege που σε κάνει να τραβάς τις κοτσίδες σου «Σκοπός του newsbomb είναι να υπερασπίζεται τα δικαιώματα των μειοψηφιών, όπως επιβάλλει το επίπεδο πολιτισμού που μας διακρίνει, ποτέ όμως σε βάρος των σημαντικών πλειοψηφιών, οι οποίες βιώνουν έναν ιδιότυπο ρατσισμό τα τελευταία χρόνια και που όπως φαίνεται είναι εκείνες που έχουν πραγματική ανάγκη προστασίας των δικαιωμάτων τους».

Οι επιστολές αυτές δεν προκαλούν καμιάν έκπληξη, κανένα σοκ. Έχουμε όλοι συνηθίσει την ομοφοβική/ρατσιστική/σεξιστική/σοβινιστική διάθεση της πλειοψηφίας -αν όχι, πρέπει να τη συνηθίσουμε, το denial και το escapism δεν βοηθάνε κανέναν πια. Να είμαστε συνειδητοποιημένοι τουλάχιστον, ότι, ναι, ο μέσος Έλληνας από τέτοια sites “ενημερώνεται”, και, ναι, αυτή η τόσο σοκαριστικά in your face ομοφοβική διάθεση του site αυτού ταυτίζεται με αυτή της πλειοψηφίας. Ας μην γελιόμαστε.

Δεν ξέρω πού ακριβώς θέλω να καταλήξω. Είχα στο μυαλό μου αυτά τα δυο “κακά”, όταν ξεκίνησα να γράφω. Τα “κειμενάκια”, meaning την πλειοψηφία των ελληνικών κειμένων στο Ίντερνετ, που είναι γεμάτα ορθογραφικά, γραμματικά, και συντακτικά λάθη, καθώς και την έλλειψη editing/proofreading σε όλα τα free press και τα ενημερωτικά sites -ακόμα και τα πολύ καλά ενημερωτικά sites- και τις επιστολές που προσπαθούν να πείσουν ότι δεν είναι ομοφοβικές ουρλιάζοντας την ομοφοβία τους.

Το πρώτο προσπαθώ να το καταλάβω και να το αποδεχτώ, γιατί μετά από συζητήσεις με ανθρώπους που δουλεύουν σε τέτοια sites κατανοώ ότι είναι δύσκολα τα πράγματα, και δεν υπάρχουν ούτε λεφτά, ούτε χρόνος, ούτε ενέργεια, για editing/proofreading πολυτέλειες. Δε μπορώ λοιπόν ούτε με τους ανορθόγραφους πιτσιρικάδες να τα βάλω (ειδικά αν έχουν τις απαραίτητες γνώσεις και γράφουν καλά, κι ας είναι ανορθόγραφα τα κείμενά τους), ούτε με τα ίδια τα sites. Δε θέλω το κείμενο αυτό να παρεξηγηθεί ως προσωπική επίθεση σε συγκεκριμένους music editors, bloggers κλπ. Το tweet που αναφέρω παραπάνω στάθηκε απλά αφορμή για να ξεκινήσω για πολλοστή φορά την κουβέντα αυτή για τα ελληνικά ενημερωτικά sites, τα πρόχειρα, γεμάτα λάθη κείμενα, τα irrelevant χαζοβιόλικα άρθρα των free-press (Who gives a fuck πλέον για τα facebook fails της μέρας ή τα αφιερώματα στις γάτες των συντακτών;), τα μεταφρασμένα με google translate κείμενα (χωρίς φυσικά credit στο ξένο κείμενο που έκλεψαν) κ.ο.κ. Και παρόλο που, ναι, κατανοώ τα προβλήματα, έχω την εντύπωση ότι κάποια από τα λάθη που βλέπω δεν είναι από κούραση και έλλειψη χρόνου, όπως συχνά παραπονιούνται οι συντάκτες τους, αλλά από ωχαδερφισμό και σταρχιδισμό. Και τη σιγουριά ότι οι 9 στους 10 δεν θα παρατηρήσουν καν ότι το κείμενο έχει λάθη, οπότε όλα ok. Νομίζω, εν ολίγοις, ότι κάποιοι υποτιμούν το κοινό τους. Σε μερικές περιπτώσεις μάλιστα παρατηρώ και ξεκάθαρο dumbing down, αλλά αυτό είναι μια άλλη κουβέντα, για ένα άλλο θυμωμένο post.

Το δεύτερο είναι απόστημα, και θέλω να ελπίζω ότι μια μέρα θα σπάσει και θα γεμίσει πύον όλους όσους το στηρίζουν τόσα χρόνια. Εγώ φυσικά θα κλειστώ στο δωματιάκι μου μέχρι να σπάσει το γαμημένο το σπυρί. Εσύ όμως, Έλληνα, πρόσεχε μην φτάσει μια μέρα το πύον ως την Village πολυθρόνα στην οποία θα βλέπεις το blockbuster σου. Μέχρι να βγάλεις την βρώμα από πάνω σου θα έχεις χάσει τη μισή ταινία.

PARALLEL LANDSCAPES: IMAGE AND LANGUAGE IN HANNIBAL

Nothing Here is Vegetarian

DISCLAIMER: It is with great honour and joy that I get to host in this blog @weirdymcweirder‘s (my personal editor/proofreader and my dear friend) first meta-analysis on Hannibal. I hope you ‘ll all enjoy it as much as I did.

When I first watched “Aperitif”, I had a feeling there was something wrong. I loved the visuals and the premise and the acting, sure, but there was just something “off” about it. A need to pinpoint what was wrong, rather than a desire to enjoy what was right, drove me to watch the episode again. As a fan of Fuller’s previous work, I was shocked to discover that the problem was the dialogue. It was the language that was “wrong”. However, this second time around, I also remembered that I had had this feeling before: after watching the first episodes of Deadwood and Justified, two of my…

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Peace in the Pieces Disassembled: Deconstructing Hannibal, part IV

IV. The Sessions

i. A Dull Ache

“Being alone comes with a dull ache, doesn’t it?” , asks Franklyn in one of his sessions with Dr. Lecter. Hannibal replies with a simple “It can”. He will later comment further on the subject, when he tries to persuade Will that he is a killer. “At a time when other men fear their isolation, yours has become understandable to you. You are alone because you are unique.”

Loneliness is a key theme in “Hannibal”, one that runs throughout the series. In the third part of this analysis we touched the subject of loneliness, by means of a discussion on introversion, social exclusion, and the psychiatric term “folie à deux”,  defined by Hannibal as one’s need to share one’s madness with another person, in order to feel socially included and, therefore, sane.

In “Hannibal” loneliness is always painful. It is painful for Franklyn, the dumb, needy, submissive guy, who is attracted to psychopaths and wants to save Michael Jackson. It is painful for Will, the introvert empath who so easily gets into serial killers’ heads and so desperately wants to get out of his own. It is painful for Abigail, the victim; the witch; the lure. It is painful for Georgia, the girl who can’t see faces and  thinks she is dead. It is painful for Alana, the woman who can’t get emotionally intimate because she thinks too much. It is painful for Tobias, the arrogant psychopath, who kills without a moral compass or remorse. It is painful even for Hannibal, the Devil,  who is simply curious to see what it is like to wind good Will up and watch him go.

But in order to fully comprehend how loneliness affects people in “Hannibal”, we must first examine the use of transference and countertransference in the series, for it is through these instances of transference/countertransference that we can really gauge the ache that comes from being alone. For those not familiar with the psychoanalytic terms,  here are some simple wikipedia definitions:

In a therapy context, transference refers to the redirection of a patient’s feelings for a significant person to the therapist. Transference is often manifested as an erotic attraction towards a therapist, but can be seen in many other forms such as rage, hatred, mistrust, parentification, extreme dependence, or even placing the therapist in a god-like or guru statusCountertransference[10] is defined as redirection of a therapist’s feelings toward a patient, or more generally, as a therapist’s emotional entanglement with a patient.

ii. Transference

In “Hannibal”  transference is mostly used by Dr. Lecter as a means of manipulation and psychic driving. He constantly manipulates others into transferring their emotions for significant others to himself in an effort to build a rapport with them, and win their sympathy, admiration, and trust.

Let’s take a look at some instances of transference in “Hannibal”:

 Franklyn

Hannibal - 01x01 - Aperitif.x.264.LOL.English.HI.C.updated.Addic7ed.com.mkv_001338711

The most obvious, almost textbook,  form of transference in “Hannibal” is Franklyn’s transference towards Dr. Lecter. I would argue that this “textbookness” of Franklyn’s transference is purposeful. It serves as a mirror for other characters’ transference, most notably Will’s transference to Hannibal, and Hannibal’s transference to Bedelia; it makes it easier for the audience to spot transference in those characters as well. It is also the only instance of transference towards Hannibal that is not encouraged by Hannibal himself.

We never really learn if it is parental feelings that Franklyn transfers to Hannibal, but we can pretty much fill in the blanks by assuming that it is his feelings for a parent, feelings like admiration, dependence, and fear of rejection and abandonment, that Franklyn transfers to his therapist. We will soon learn that Franklyn has a propensity for being terrified by and at the same time attracted to dominant authority figures. Notice, for example, his first reaction to Jack.

Hannibal - 01x01 - Aperitif.x.264.LOL.English.HI.C.updated.Addic7ed.com.mkv_001409950

When Franklyn sees this tall, domineering figure, he shrinks.

Hannibal - 01x01 - Aperitif.x.264.LOL.English.HI.C.updated.Addic7ed.com.mkv_001425632

His relief that the FBI agent does not want to talk to him is evident.

Franklyn is attracted to psychopaths. He transfers his emotions to therapists easily. That is why he keeps getting these referrals from one therapist to another. Because when transference occurs, and the patient cannot shake it off, the therapist has no other alternative but to refer the patient to another therapist. His transference to Hannibal is almost erotic. He keeps pushing Hannibal to become his friend. He wants to socialize with Hannibal after office hours. He stalks him. He constantly tries to find common interests, when it is obvious that they have none.  His transference is also evident in visual cues like:

Body language: Franklyn is always seated on the edge of his chair, he always tries to come closer to Hannibal. To touch him, even.

Hannibal - 01x07 - Sorbet.WEB-DL-NTb.English.HI.C.orig.Addic7ed.com.mkv_000864364

Hannibal - 01x07 - Sorbet.WEB-DL-NTb.English.HI.C.orig.Addic7ed.com.mkv_001826200

Mimitism: After a while Franklyn starts to imitate Hannibal’s style in his outfits, especially his cravats.

Hannibal.S01E08.Fromage.1080p.WEB-DL.DD5.1.H.264-ELiTE.mkv_000339881

Hannibal.S01E08.Fromage.1080p.WEB-DL.DD5.1.H.264-ELiTE.mkv_000331539

He  also mimics his behavior.

Screenshot_2013-06-17-00-36-53

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Franklyn’s transference reaches its peak in Fromage, when he utters those three, disturbing, little words.

Hannibal.S01E08.Fromage.1080p.WEB-DL.DD5.1.H.264-ELiTE.mkv_000327411

“I become you.”

Will

At first Will resists any kind of therapy. He is sick of people treating him as an exotic specimen, as something they can dissect, examine, and write their theses on. But his initial resistance to psychoanalysis

Hannibal - 01x01 - Aperitif.x.264.LOL.English.HI.C.updated.Addic7ed.com.mkv_001609900

“Don’t psychoanalyze me Dr. Lecter. You won’t like me when I’m psychoanalyzed.”

will soon give way to Hannibal’s persistent manipulation and psychic driving.

After his initial efforts to crudely -yet, successfully- analyze Will meet total resistance, Hannibal decides to take a less direct approach. It is interesting to see how in just two episodes Hannibal succeeds in getting Will from a state of total resistance to therapy, to a state of complete trust and dependence (transference).

First, he murders a girl just to help Will “see” the Minnesota shrike. Will needs a “win” and Hannibal is happy to oblige.

2013-06-25 19.22.19

“It’s like he had to show me a negative so that I could see the positive. That crime scene was practically gift-wrapped”.

This “win” gets Will in a better mood. At least good enough to open his house to Dr. Lecter when he visits him the next day.  Hannibal will offer food and friendship. He will try to establish that they are more alike than Will seems to think and he will simultaneously start alienating Will from Jack and try to win Will’s sympathy by complimenting his abilities.

Hannibal: Ever had any problems, Will?

Will: No

Hannibal: Of course you don’t. You and I are just alike. Problem- free. Nothing about us to feel horrible about.

  …

Hannibal: I think Uncle Jack sees you as a fragile little tea-cup, the finest china used for only special guests.

Will: How do you see me?

Hannibal - 01x01 - Aperitif.x.264.LOL.English.HI.C.updated.Addic7ed.com.mkv_002078951

Hannibal: The mongoose I want under the house when the snakes slither by.

Later, Hannibal will establish himself as an authority figure, and a source of clarity, stability, security, and safety.

Hannibal - 01x01 - Aperitif.x.264.LOL.English.HI.C.updated.Addic7ed.com.mkv_002404402

Take a look at how he pushes away Will’s hands

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and takes the responsibility of saving a human life off of Will’s shoulders.

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It is no wonder Will starts to trust this guy now, is it?

Hannibal - 01x01 - Aperitif.x.264.LOL.English.HI.C.updated.Addic7ed.com.mkv_002541622

He is, after all, the guy who kept his cool when things got ugly, and saved Abigail’s life.

Will’s transference towards Hannibal takes place in Amuse-Bouche. It is visually highlighted in their positions on the set of Dr. Lecter’s office.

Hannibal - 01x02 - Amuse-Bouche.720p.Dimension.English.HI.C.orig.Addic7ed.com.mkv_000518934

At first, Will is upstairs. He doesn’t even look at Hannibal.

Hannibal - 01x02 - Amuse-Bouche.720p.Dimension.English.HI.C.orig.Addic7ed.com.mkv_000549507

During this whole scene Will looks down on Hannibal, establishing a sense of superiority towards him.

Hannibal - 01x02 - Amuse-Bouche.720p.Dimension.English.HI.C.orig.Addic7ed.com.mkv_001146894

During their next session, Will is already shaken by his first hallucination of Hobbs in the field. He can’t tell anyone but Hannibal. They are now on the same floor level, and speak as partners, and as equals, about the “mushroom killer”.

Hannibal - 01x02 - Amuse-Bouche.720p.Dimension.English.HI.C.orig.Addic7ed.com.mkv_002486817

By the end of Amuse-Bouche, Will will stop resisting therapy. He will sit on the patient’s chair of his own accord, and he will admit that he liked killing Hobbs.

I have already started an analysis on Will’s transference in the first post of this analysis, where I suggested that:

“Will’s boat engine, as all nautical references and imagery in Hannibal, is used as a symbol for safety. You could call it Will’s safety blanket if you like.

"Sometimes at night I leave the lights on in my little house.

“Sometimes at night I leave the lights on in my little house… and walk across the flat fields. When I look back from a distance the house is like a boat on the sea. It’s really the only time I feel safe.”

Hannibal doesn’t seem to care much for Will’s efforts to feel safe; such a feeling is not conducive to the kind of psychotherapy that he has in mind for Will. Having a “safe place” (e.g. his home, which resembles a boathouse) or a “safe activity” (e.g. repairing a boat engine) might be considered as building forts (i.e. psychological defense mechanisms, resistance to therapy). Hannibal needs to tear down all of Will’s forts in order to achieve a psychological breakthrough. Note that the psychological breakthrough occurs when a client makes swift progress, particularly after a period of resistance, perhaps as a result of new insight.  If Will is to understand and accept Hannibal for who he is, if he is to become a true friend to Hannibal, then he has to transfer all feelings of safety and security to Hannibal. Hannibal needs to break Will first, and then rebuild him in his own image. In theory, with enough psychic driving and manipulation, Will should be able to transfer to Hannibal the feelings of being secure and safe, feelings that he had when he was around his father (i.e. transference). 

In Amuse-Bouche Hannibal tries to discourage Will from returning to his “safe place” and manipulates him into admitting that he liked killing Hobbs.

Will: I should have stuck to fixing boat motors in Louisiana.

*I should have stayed where I was safe.*

Hannibal: A boat engine is a machine, a predictable problem. Easy to solve. If you fail, there is a paddle. Where was your paddle with Hobbs?

*This safety is an illusion, one of the many forts you ‘ve built. Predictable, easy for me to tear down (solve). If you were really safe then you would have had a paddle with Hobbs.*

Will: You ‘re supposed to be my paddle.

*You’re supposed to be my paddle* (transference)

Hannibal: I am. It wasn’t the act of killing Hobbs that got you down, was it? Did you really feel so bad because killing him felt so good?

*Now that you have transferred your feelings of being safe and secure to me, I can use all the psychic driving that I want.”

Will: I liked killing Hobbs.

*I had an insight. I am evil. You are correct*. “

After transference occurs, Will’s trust and dependence on Hannibal  gradually become so powerful that he runs to his office whenever he feels unstable. For example, he runs to Hannibal’ s house after being rejected by Alana.

Hannibal.S01E08.Fromage.1080p.WEB-DL.DD5.1.H.264-ELiTE.mkv_001468051

“Well, I kissed Alana Bloom.”

He later visits him with Dr. Gideon in order to establish whether he is having a hallucination or not.

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Abigail

Just like he encouraged Will’s transference by building rapport, insisting that they are alike, helping him find the Minnesota shrike,  alienating him from Jack, helping him save Abigail’s life, and reassuring him that what he did was right, Hannibal encourages Abigail’s transference by saving her life,  helping her hide the dead body of the man she murdered,  reassuring her that the phone call he made to her father was an honest mistake and that he will keep her secret. He also encourages her alienation from others when he says that “Home is not an option”  and he tries to build rapport by saying that they are alike, that they both made mistakes that could easily be  misconstrued. This bond of trust between them is highlighted with a visual repetition of the scene I previously described with Will.

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Abigail: How did you know it was me?
Hannibal: Where were you supposed to go? Home is no longer an option. Come down from there.

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Hannibal: I made a mistake, something easily misconstrued. Not unlike yourself.

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Hannibal: I’ll keep your secret.
Abigail: And I’ll keep yours.

Hannibal is not subtle about encouraging the transference of Abigail’s emotions for her father to himself. The re-enactment of her last breakfast with her parents, the use of hallucinogenic drugs, constitute an all too obvious and crude method of psychic driving. But, Abigail is, after all, a child. And she is already dependent on Hannibal, because he knows her secret. So, it makes perfect sense that his method of manipulation is not subtle in Abigail’s case; it doesn’t have to be.

As far as visual cues go, Abigail’s hallucination during the breakfast scene is the most literal instance of transference depicted in the show.

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“What do you see Abigail?”

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“I see family.”

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As I mentioned before it is the “textbookness” of Franklyn’s transference that helps the audience realize that Hannibal is transferring his emotions for a significant other (most probably his sister, Mischa) to his therapist.  The most important episode for transference in “Hannibal” is Sorbet. Each session mirrors another, and they all contribute to allowing the audience to get a glimpse of Hannibal’s psyche. At first we are presented with Franklyn’s almost comical transference to Hannibal.  His dependence, his neediness, his stalking, his almost erotic need to touch Hannibal make the audience feel sorry for this guy who is so weak, and dumb, and lonely that he stalks and imitates Hannibal and so desperately wants to become his friend.

Let’s take a look at the dialogue:

Franklyn: But I don’t really know who you are outside this room.

Hannibal: I’m your psychiatrist.

Franklyn: I want you to be my friend.

Hannibal: Of course you do. I have intimate knowledge of you.

Franklyn: And we like the same things. I think we would make good friends. It makes me sad that I have to pay to see you.

(pause. Franklyn sighs)

Hannibal: I am a source of stability and clarity, Franklyn. I am not your friend.

Franklyn: I’m a great friend.

Now let’s take a look at another dialogue, one between Hannibal and Bedelia:

Bedelia: I have conversations with a version of you and hope that the actual you gets what he needs.

Hannibal: A version of me?

Bedelia: Naturally, I respect its meticulous construction, but you are wearing a very well-tailored “person-suit”.

Hannibal: Do you refer to me as “person-suit” with your psychiatrist friends?

Bedelia: I don’t discuss patients with my psychiatrist friends, especially since I only have one patient, who chose to ignore my retirement.

Hannibal: A person who wears a “person-suit”.

Bedelia: Maybe it’s less of a “person-suit” and more of a human veil… That must be lonely.

Hannibal: I have friends. And the opportunities for friends. You and I are friendly.

Bedelia: You are my patient and my colleague, not my friend. At the end of your hour I will pour you a glass of wine. Nevertheless, you will be drinking it at the other side of the veil.

Hannibal: Why do you bother?

I was shocked at how much the two sessions resembled one another. Hannibal sounds almost as needy as Franklyn in his first session with Bedelia. He wants to know her outside their sessions, he wants to be her friend. His reaction to Bedelia’s rejection is almost heartbreaking.

In addition, there are many visual cues that emphasize Hannibal’s transference towards Bedelia. The most shockingly obvious one is that he has copied Bedelia’s kitchen in his own dining room – which is, in essence, his sanctuary. He has, of course, embellished a little. He has made it better, he has elevated it to Art, just like he did with Garrett Jacob Hobbs’ crime scenes.

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Moreover, Hannibal mimics Bedelia’s behavior and mannerisms, the same way Franklyn imitates his behavior and mannerisms. He talks like Bedelia, and he listens to classical music because Bedelia listens to it – both facts, not speculation, since Bryan Fuller and Gillian Anderson have commented on these details in interviews. Bedelia offers him a glass of wine at the end of their session and he rushes to imitate her behavior by offering a glass of pink wine to Will during their own session. He even mimics Bedelia’s mannerisms in ways as subtle as checking out one’s watch. Take a look at how he checks out his watch in Sorbet; just like Bedelia fiddled with her watch when she felt awkward by Hannibal’s questions, Hannibal fiddles nervously with his own watch while he waits for Will.

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iii.Countertransference

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Hannibal countertransfers to -that is, gets emotionally entangled with- both Abigail and Will. His countertransference to Abigail is evident in how much it hurts him when he murders her. What started as a simple fascination, as a game, ends up being a truly traumatic experience for Hannibal. He hadn’t expected to become emotionally entangled with Abigail, but he is. And in his final session with Bedelia it is obvious that he laments losing the one chance at having a family of his own. His grief is that of a parent losing a daughter. His countertransference to Will is also evident in his sessions with Bedelia. In fact, it is so obvious that Bedelia is forced to remind him that he is Will’s psychiatrist, not his friend. “He is still your patient. If you feel the impulse to step forward you must force yourself to take a step back.”

But it is much earlier, in Sorbet, in the scene where Hannibal awaits Will’s arrival, that the audience fully realizes Hannibal’s emotional entanglement with Will. Before starting any analysis on this scene we should take a step back and remember what is being said in the scene immediately preceding this one. It is a conversation between Hannibal and Franklyn:

Hannibal: You often worry about being alone?

Franklyn: I worry about hurting. Being alone comes with a dull ache, doesn’t it?

Hannibal: It can.

Cut to Hannibal opening his office door. We hear Mozart’s Lacrimosa, part of the Dies Irae sequence in the Requiem mass. The Requiem Mass in D minor  by Mozart was composed  in 1791 and left unfinished at the composer’s death on December 5. A completion dated 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr was delivered to Count Franz von Walsegg, who had anonymously commissioned the piece for a requiem mass to commemorate the 14th anniversary of his wife’s death. A modern contribution to the mythology is Peter Shaffer‘s 1979 play Amadeus, in which a mysterious messenger orders Mozart to write a requiem mass, giving no explanation for the order; Mozart (in the play) then comes to believe that the piece is meant to be the requiem mass for his own funeral.

It is also interesting to take a look at the text:

Lacrimosa dies illa Qua resurget ex favilla Judicandus homo reus. Huic ergo parce, Deus:Pie Jesu Domine, Dona eis requiem. Amen.

Which translates to:

Full of tears shall be that day On which from ashes shall arise The guilty man to be judged; Therefore, O God, have mercy on him. Gentle Lord Jesus, grant them eternal rest. Amen.

It is no wonder Brian Reitzel chose this melancholic classical piece for this scene. Because, this is the one scene where we can truly glimpse Hannibal’s profound sense of loneliness and boredom. At first we see Hannibal open his office door and look outside at an empty waiting room. He checks his watch nervously to establish that Will indeed is late for their session. Follows another shot of empty space, this time that of his office. The inclusion of these shots of empty spaces highlights Hannibal’s loneliness in a simple, economical, yet wonderful way. Hannibal collapses on his chair like a sack of meal. His anticipation,  excitement, and obvious nervousness is such that he starts looking at the telephone like a smitten 15-year-old waiting for his first date to appear through the door. He then rechecks his appointments, he sees Will’s name and the session hour and, evidently getting all the more frustrated and anxious, decides to go find him. Hannibal’s loneliness is a dull ache; an ache that is beautifully depicted in one brilliantly shot and executed scene. And it is this ache that drives him to get so emotionally entangled with Will that he risks his career, his reputation, his freedom, his life.

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Peace in the Pieces Disassembled: Deconstructing Hannibal, part III

III. Folie à deux

In the first part of this deconstruction (I. When Hannibal Fed Will’s dogs) I promised to write a few things on Hannibal’s true motives. For this part of the analysis it is crucial that we all concur that Hannibal is a very intelligent, multilayered, complex character.  Hannibal’s motives must never be too apparent. He should always be a  riddle, wrapped up in a mystery, inside an enigma. Otherwise, he will become ordinary;  even worse, he will become boring.
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The audience should never relate. Hannibal must always feel  alien to us.  There is a supernatural element in the series  that is exaggerated the closer Will gets to Hannibal. In the finale of the fist season, when Will finally “sees” Hannibal, the supernatural element reaches its peak: Will’s hallucinations turn Hannibal into a Wendigo.

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The bullroarer‘s (i.e. a ritual musical instrument used in the Dionysian Mysteries) sound evokes terror because it feels like something archetypically  supernatural, alien , otherworldly; if Hell exists, this is its soundtrack.  We aren’t supposed to know Hannibal’s true face. Instead,  we are presented with this mythical representation of id, (for a discussion of the freudian psychic structures –id, ego, superego- in “Hannibal” check out the second post II. What would Freud say?).  It seems that every time the audience gets closer to understanding, “seeing” Hannibal, the show swiftly breaks this connection by adding supernatural elements, trying to alienate us from the character as much as possible.
Hannibal is always steps ahead of both Will  and the audience; he  has numerous motives for every move  he makes, intricate strategies and backup plans to fall on in case something goes wrong. His own admission to Abigail in Relevés, that he only wanted to satisfy his curiosity, sounds true, yet a bit simplistic. I propose that his true motives  are much more complicated than that, and that they might  be hidden not only from the audience, but from Hannibal himself.

I believe that the most important key that unlocks Hannibal’s mysteries –Hannibal here refers to both the character and the show- is the need for social inclusion and human contact, understanding and acceptance. It seems that even Hannibal, an alleged sociopath, cannot escape the need to belong to a greater whole. In the scene where Alana starts to explain to Abigail the term “Folie à deux”, which translates to “madness shared by two”, Hannibal defines madness in a way that highlights his own need to belong, his wish to share his  unique way of experiencing the world with another human being, and, most importantly, his own loneliness.

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“One cannot be delusional if the belief in question is accepted as ordinary by others in that person’s culture, or subculture, or family.”

  He says that one is not mad if another person sees the world like one does. Therefore, madness shared by two is not madness, not really. If Hannibal finds someone who can understand him, not necessarily a serial killer, or a cannibal, like himself, but someone who can see the world through his eyes, empathize, and accept him for whο he is – which is a very sane person, actually- then Hannibal will fit this (his) definition of sanity. And that’s why he keeps playing this chess game with Will Graham, despite knowing that Will’s empathy will bring his demise. Because Will’s empathy is also his only chance to “share his madness”. It might be difficult for the audience to comprehend Hannibal’s need for social inclusion,  because we are used to serial killers being psychopaths and sociopaths. But, in Bryan Fullers’s own words ““Lecter is not a psychopath because he experiences regret, not a sociopath because he experiences empathy; he’s a complete work of fiction”.  

I would speculate that his need for social inclusion is not conscious to him at first. Hannibal’s adventure starts out of sheer curiosity at what the little chess pieces will do under certain circumstances.  But his true motives manifest as early as his first scene with Will in Apéritif.   Their first common appearance is a perfect example of how complex Hannibal’s reasoning is and how multiple his motives are.

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“This cannibal you have him getting to know…
I think I can help good Will see his face.”

This can be translated in at least three distinct ways.

1. I think I can help good Will see this cannibal’s (Garett Jacob Hobbs’) face.

2. I think I can help good Will see his own face.

3. I think I can help good Will see this cannibal’s (my) face.

 Apart from it being a perfect example of how Hannibal’s reasoning is often too complex for the audience, it is also a perfect example of how early Hannibal’s need for social inclusion kicks in. He wants Will to see and accept him for who he is, because he needs to be able to define himself as a sane person.  His need for social inclusion  is also manifested in his relationship with Abigail. He wants Will to be his friend and Abigail to be his  daughter. He sees in these two people the opportunities for friendship and family, and that is what drives him.

I’ d like to point out here that Will is not the only opportunity for friendship that Hannibal comes across during the first season. Tobias wants to be his friend, too. And he is the obvious choice since he is already a serial killer.  But, Hannibal wants a certain kind of man to be his friend. He wants someone who can empathize and connect with him on a deeper level. He wants someone who is as socially excluded as he is. After all “Folie à deux ” is most commonly diagnosed when the  individuals concerned live in proximity and are socially or physically isolated and have little interaction with other people. Will is isolated because his empathy makes it difficult for him to make meaningful relationships. And Hannibal may enjoy the respect and admiration of his peers, but that is only because no one sees his true face.

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Hannibal: At a time when other men fear their isolation, yours has become understandable to you. You are alone because you are unique. Will: I am as alone as you are.

Moreover, Hannibal wants someone who is humble, submissive. “Folie à deux” is usually a “Folie imposée“, meaning that a dominant person (known as the ‘primary’, ‘inducer’ or ‘principal’) initially forms a delusional belief during a psychotic episode and imposes it on another person or persons (known as the ‘secondary’, ‘acceptor’ or ‘associate’) with the assumption that the secondary person might not have become deluded if left to his or her own devices. Tobias is rude, arrogant, domineering. He fits perfectly in Hannibal’s “would like to murder and eat” list, not the “would like to be friends and share my madness with” one.

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“But I don’t want to be your friend.”

Hints of Hannibal’s desperate need for social inclusion can be found throughout the series:

a) In Apéritif there is a reference to Hannibal’s research on Social Exclusion, “Evolutionary Origins of Social Exclusion”, which should be considered a very early clue to Hannibal’s true motives, if my analysis is correct.  The delectable Dr. Lecter would only research a field he has a profound fascination with.

b) The phone call in Apéritif could be considered an unconscious effort at helping another cannibal. Yes, he was curious to see how things would unfold and observe Will in the field (what scientist wouldn’t want that?)  but he also says “This a courtesy call.”, which implies that he felt a certain sense of obligation towards this person who shared his madness.

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c) His insistence that  he and Will are alike. “You and I are just alike. Problem free. Nothing about us to feel horrible about.”

And his offer for friendship so early on in the game.

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“Or we could socialize like adults. God forbid we become friendly.”

I would speculate that here Hannibal thinks he is just manipulating Will, trying to build up a rapport that he will later use to his advantage in their psychotherapy sessions, but in reality, his true motive (i.e. seeking a friend) manifests.

d) His admiration for Will’s empathy.

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Will: Maybe he admires their ability to connect, the way human minds can’t. Hannibal: Yours can.

e) The sheer joy when he watches Will dissect the way Hobbs’ copycat thinks, and hears him praise the copycat for elevating Hobbs’ crimes to Art.

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“He had intimate knowledge of Garrett Jacob Hobbs’ murders, motives, patterns—enough to recreate them and, arguably, elevate them to art”

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… and his disappointment when Will fails to understand that rudeness is cruelty.

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f) The reenactment of Abigail’s breakfast with her parents.

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“What do you see Abigail?”

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“I see family.”

On first viewing this scene seems to be just about manipulation and psychic driving so that Abigail will come to transfer her feelings for her Father to Hannibal. But on closer inspection, you can see Hannibal’s need to guide a young person through life, too. At first, he uses Alana as the surrogate mother in his perverted version of a family. Later, he will use Will himself.

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“Who knows Abigail better than you and I? Or the burden she bears? We are her fathers now. We have to serve her better than Garett Jacob Hobbs.”

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“We can tell no one… What you are doing is the right thing.”

h) In his own sessions with Bedelia, Hannibal will come to fully realize his motives.

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i) His disappointment at Will’s failure to achieve true becoming

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“If you followed the urges you kept down for so long, cultivated them as the inspirations that they are, you would have become someone other than yourself.”

… followed by a glimpse of hope, when he realizes that Will is about to shoot him.

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In the end, Hannibal  succeeds in all three goals. Will sees all three faces. He sees  Hobbs’ face with the help of Dr. Lecter in Aperitif. He sees his own face,  the face of a killer, the moment he  decides that he must kill Hannibal.

But most importantly he now sees Hannibal’s true face.

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“See? You see?”

Is Will going to accept it, like Hannibal wants him to? Probably not.

But it’s sure worth a try…

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*If this was an academic essay I would have used proper bibliography for the psychological definitions. But since it is  only a blogpost I used wikipedia’s definitions.  

Peace in the Pieces Disassembled: Deconstructing Hannibal, part II

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II. What Would Freud Say?

For anyone who’s ever read Sigmund Freud, it is obvious that the two protagonists are manifestations of the two opposing elements in his structural model of the human psyche/mind: id and superego.

But, let’s start with the basics, for all those who haven’t read Freud;  presuming that you have read Freud would be rude, and we  wouldn’t want to be rude in a post about Hannibal now, would we?

So, Freud’s structural model of the human psyche consists of three psychic structures: id, ego, superego.

i.  I Am … Curious

Id is the unorganized,  unconscious psychic structure that contains a human’s basic, instinctual drives, and the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, sexual and aggressive impulses. It contains libido, the sexual drive which can be manifested in all kinds of ways, creativity being the most common. Id acts according to the “pleasure principle”,  it is egotistical, and it wants immediate gratification. It is the “oldest” one of the three psychic structures proposed by Freud, the only one with which we are born. In Freud’s own words “Id knows no judgements of value: no good and evil, no morality… Instinctual cathexes seeking discharge – that, in our view, is all there is in the id.” Only Eros and Thanatos, the life (i.e. creativity) and death (i.e. destruction) instincts are found in the id. The archetypical manifestation of id is that of God Bacchus, or the Devil.

Enters Hannibal.

He is as flamboyant, joyful, and  playful as Bacchus.

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As vindictive and prideful as the Devil.

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Hannibal realizes that someone else is taking credit for his work

He knows how to throw a party, he knows how to dress, he knows how to manipulate others and seize opportunities; he knows how to take what he wants. He enjoys his food; his wine; his psychic chess games with Will. He also enjoys  the respect and admiration of his peers.

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Hannibal knows how to indulge his senses, his desires, his fantasies.

 He admires beauty and he wants to create beauty. Remember that creativity, or simply libido resides in the id. Hannibal lives in a beautiful home, his office is designed to look like a theater stage, and, most importantly, his own crimes are “consistently theatrical“.

As Chesapeake Ripper, he always leaves a horrific yet harmonious, and thus, beautiful,  murder tableau in his crime scenes.

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As Hobbs’ copycat, he elevates his crimes to Art.

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Field kabuki

His admiration for harmonious, beautiful things and his need for creating beauty is evident everywhere in the series. It is difficult to have to choose examples for it, but I believe that the two scenes most representative of Hannibal’s libido are both found in Sorbet.

These two scenes are : the Opera Scene, and the Cooking Scene .

The Opera scene is all about Hannibal’s admiration of beauty. Beauty moves him in a way that is almost human.

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The Cooking Scene – actually, all cooking sequences in Sorbet – is about Hannibal’s libido externalizing through creativity.

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I find it disturbing, yet beautiful, in it’s own way, that the writers decided to use these two scenes in the same episode. Hannibal is “humanized” in the Opera Scene -he finally shows emotion and that is something the audience can relate to- and “dehumanized” later in the Cooking Scene -the audience is most probably appalled by the zest with which Hannibal cooks his victims.

When Will is asked how he sees the Chesapeake Ripper he replies:

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“I see him as 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. He looks normal and nobody can tell what he is.”

Id is the oldest of  the three psychic structures. Children are pure id until parental conditioning creates  superego, the psychic structure that consists of our personal moral standards, which are developed through parental reward/punishment and the morals set by society/culture. That is what Hannibal lacks, just like a baby born in a hospital, without parents, in social vacuuum. Hannibal may have a thousand motives for each action he makes, but, by his own admission in Relevés, his primary motive is curiosity. He is like a 3-year-old scientist, doing experiments; and, like all boys in their early stages of moral development, he does not care whether someone will get hurt.

Hannibal adds an element of chaos in every situation; he increases the entropy in every system.  This creates opportunities for him to seize, like a hunter shaking the bushes to get the birds to come out. On an episode level, the best example of chaos creating opportunities for Hannibal is in Fromage. A series of random events that he initiated leads to the killing of Tobias which he then exploits to shape his relationship with both Will and Bedelia. On the series level, his phone call to Hobbs sets the whole season in motion.

By indulging in two of modern society’s most fearful taboos – murder and cannibalism- Hannibal smashes his superego.  Since all three psychic structures are important in the development of  personality, Hannibal’s “fractured” superego constitutes arrested psychic development. Hannibal’s personality – like Will’s- is incomplete. So, from a strictly Freudian perspective we could say that Hannibal is pure id, therefore he is true Evil.

But things are much more complicated than that. Hannibal may lack the kind of morality that a superego imposes, but he is not amoral. He has his own code of ethics, a moral compass completely free of all the “should”s and “should-not”s of  modern society. Hannibal kills only those he believes to be rude, and thus, cruel and not deserving of the precious gift of Life. In his conversation with the Crawford couple  in Coquilles it is apparent that Hannibal truly believes that what he does is ethical.

“I have no taste for animal cruelty, which is why I employ an ethical butcher… No need for unnecessary suffering.”

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“Human emotions are gifts from our animal ancestors. Cruelty is a gift humanity has given itself.”

Imagine his frustration when Will criticises Chesapeake Ripper for his cruelty in Sorbet:

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Hannibal : Displaying one’s enemy after death has its appeal in many cultures.

Will: These aren’t the Ripper’s enemies, these are pests he’s swatted.

Hannibal: Their reward for their cruelty.

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 Will: He doesn’t have a problem with cruelty. Their reward is for undignified behavior. These dissections are to disgrace them. It’s a public shaming.
Hannibal: Takes their organs away because, in his mind, they don’t deserve them.
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Hannibal is disappointed, Will!

Finally, Hannibal exhibits signs of remorse whenever he kills someone who does not fit his code – namely Myriam and Franklin. His morality is not the kind idealized in a modern society where the sanctity of human life is considered the highest moral standard; but it is a kind of morality.

ii. I Am Fluid

If Hannibal is id, then Will is superego. Superego is the ethical component of the psyche, the one that provides the moral standards by which the ego (i.e.  self) operates. Cultural morality, and parental  punishment/approval during the first years of life form superego, and the superego’s criticisms, prohibitions, and inhibitions, form a person’s conscience.

Violations of the superego’s standards result in shame, guilt, remorse, and a need to atone for one’s actions.

Will’s superego is so strong that it stands an obstacle to human contact and meaningful relationships with his peers. It is his introversion that prevents him from having relationships. Dr. Gideon will point in Rôti that people who live inside their head can’t have relationships. But it is Alana who first speaks of the loneliness that comes with introspection, when she says in Fromage that she can’t date because she thinks too much.

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A beautiful shot of Will’s introversion

Will’s  introversion is established early in Apéritif, through his inability to maintain eye contact, especially with authority figures, like Jack. When Jack asks him to be a part of his investigation on the Minnesota Shrike killer, Will replies “That would require me to be social.” The fist person in the series with whom he makes eye contact is the dead girl’s father. This suggests that only his empathy (here also referring to sympathy) can overcome his introversion.

It is Hannibal who explains why Will avoids making eye contact, during their first common appearance in Apéritif.

Hannibal: Not fond of eye contact, are you?
Will: Eyes are distracting. You see too much. You don’t see enough. And it’s hard to focus when
you’re thinking “Those whites are really white” or “They must have
hepatitis”, or “Is that a burst vein?”.  So I try to avoid eyes
whenever possible.

Hannibal: I imagine what you see and learn touches everything else in your
mind. Your values and decency are present yet shocked at your
associations, appalled at your dreams. No forts in the bone arena of your skull for things you love.

(Will immediately resists.)

Will: Whose profile are you working on?

 Where id breeds self-obsession, apathy, aggression, sociopathy etc, superego breeds altruism, empathy, neuroses, and anxiety disorders. We can see how powerful Will’s superego is in i) his paranoia about what other people might say about him. “Anything scholarly on Will Graham would have to be published posthumously” , remarks Alana in Apéritif.

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“You wouldn’t publish anything about me, would you Dr. Lecter?”

ii) his shame for being emotionally unstable,

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Alana rejects Will for being unstable

iii) his inability to enjoy the smallest victory,

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“They applauded. It was inappropriate.”

and iv) his fear that others may realize how messed up he is.

His admission that he liked killing Hobbs comes with buckets of shame and guilt. He is so neurotic that he won’t let himself feel a tiny bit of joy for saving Abigail’s life.

Alana: Abigail Hobbs is a success for you. Will: She doesn't look like success.

Alana: Abigail Hobbs is a success for you. Will: She doesn’t look like success.

Will doesn’t have a design. His personality -like Hannibal’s- is incomplete. It lacks id. In fact, because of his empathy, his id manifests only during the pendulum scenes, where he becomes all those psychopaths and serial killers. As the crime scenes become more gruesome and Hannibal’s psychic driving begins to take its toll, his repressed id starts to manifest in reality, too.

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“Had to open you up to make a decent sound out of you.”

Both Will’s and Hannibal’s personalities are fractured. They lack important psychic structures, for which they compensate by exaggerating their opposite structures. The reason why Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter have such great rapport, is that their psyches are complementary.

Does Hannibal see Will’s psyche as complementary to his own? If yes, does that make him feel afraid of Will’s superego, reminding him of a psychic structure, “a humanity” he no longer possesses? It might be the case that just as he smashed his superego and used the pieces to assemble a morality of his own, he wants to smash Will, as a symbol for superego, only to reassemble him in a way that suits him.

It makes perfect sense that the representation of superego in the series would be someone who has so much empathy that he starts to disassociate, to lose himself, his own sense of identity.

Hannibal was correct in suggesting in Apéritif that fear is the price of Will’s imagination.

Will’s primary fear is not knowing who he is; of having a fluid personality.

His early resistance and denial of the fact

“I know who I am, Dr. Lecter.”

becomes doubt

“Do I seem different?”

and finally, realization.

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“I don’t know how to gauge who I am anymore. I don’t feel like myself. I feel like I ‘ve been gradually becoming different for a while. I just feel like somebody else.

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Hannibal: What do you feel like?
Will: I feel crazy
Hannibal: That is what you fear the most.
Will: I fear not knowing who I am.

And later he will also confide in Jack.

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“I feel like hell. Actually, I feel fluid. Like I’m spilling. Must have come down with something; hope it’s not contagious”

Will’s fear that his madness might be contagious is the most powerful manifestation of superego I have ever watched. And the most heartbreaking.

One of the things that this series does best is using the “case of the week” serial killers as mirrors for its protagonists. As Will’s mental health deteriorates, he relates more and more to these killers.  In Rôti, Dr Gideon’s sense of identity loss evidently mirrors Will’s own state of mind.

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“I don’t know if I will ever be myself again. I don’t know if I’ve got any self leftover. I spent so long thinking I was him it’s gotten really hard to remember who I was when I wasn’t him…
It’s hard to be your own person when you can’t get out of your own head.”

Will’s fear of having a “fluid personality” is also manifested in his dreams and his hallucinations in Rôti.

Take for example this dream/hallucination sequence.

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In the end, there is nothing left of Will.

Only water.

iii. I Am Bedrock

Finally, ego is represented by Jack Crawford. Ego acts according to the “reality principle”. It represents reason, common sense, and control.  Ego wants to satisfy both id and superego, it tries to mediate between the id’s instincts/desires and the superego’s cultural morality. In order to cope, ego has to employ reason and decide what is best in each situation, what suits the psyche better.

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“We have a difference of opinion. Therefore, I’m going to choose the opinion that best serves my agenda.”

From his first appearance in Apéritif, Jack establishes power and control, when he “fixes” Will’s glasses.  He violates Will’s personal space within 5 minutes of meeting him, a transgression made more serious by the fact that Crawford knows Will is on the autistic spectrum.

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The same way ego mediates between id’s desires and superego’s fears, Jack has to calm down both Hannibal’s psychopathy and Will’s neurosis in order to win the game. To do that, he needs to use all resources available. Note that ego employs a set of many psychic functions such as: reason, judgment, control, planning, memory, various defense mechanisms (denial, rationalization, intellectualization etc), and reality testing.

In Apéritif  Jack tries to establish control. He wants Will to see him as an authority figure, as someone who knows what he’s doing. At the same time he reassures Will  that he ‘s got confidence in him, and that he ‘s got his back.

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“Do you respect my judgment Will? Because we will stand a better chance of catching this guy with you in the saddle.”

In Buffet Froid he desperately tries to make Will see him as a source of stability in his life.

 Jack: Stability is good for you Will.

Will: Stability requires strong foundations, Jack.  My moorings are built on sand.

 Jack: I’m not sand. I am bedrock.

Jack uses all kinds of defense mechanisms in order to cope with being in the middle of one psychopath and one neurotic. Most often he uses denial, humor, and rationalization/ intellectualization in order to justify the way he treats Will.

In Apéritif he uses humor as a defense mechanism for alleviating his guilt , when he says to Alana “I wouldn’t put him out there if I didn’t think I could cover him. Allright, if I didn’t think I could cover him 80%.”

Humor is also used as a defense mechanism when he asks Will to do the psych eval.

Will: So, psych eval isn’t a formality?

Jack: No, it is so I can get some sleep at night. I need my beauty sleep!

In Fromage he tries to deny  the obvious deterioration of Will’s mental health.

"Is it me or is it easier for you to look?"

“Is it me or is it easier for you to look?”

In Buffet Froid he urges Will to intellectualize the crime scenes : ” What you do is you take all of the evidence available at a crime scene. You extrapolate. You reconstruct the thinking of a killer. You don’t think of yourself as the killer!”

In Rôti, he is still denying Will’s mental health issues, even when Will himself admits them.

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“This work that we do, it will  compromise your immune system only if you allow it. You gotta keep things in perspective, gotta keep yourself in perspective. You ve got to start taking better care of yourself. You just can’t take it all in. You’ve got to let go of as much of it as you can. You just got to let go.”

Even when he momentarily loses his grasp with reality because of his guilt for the death of Myriam Lass and his fear that the same thing will happen to Will,

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Jack never really loses his cool. By the end of the episode he has most probably rationalized the situation.

He looks over the wall with the photos of the Chesapeake Ripper’s victims.

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The shot implies that Jack is rationalizing that finding the Ripper, the man who murdered all these people, is far more important than one man’s mental health. He then leaves the lab, casting one last glance at the morgue where he hallucinated Will’s corpse.

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This time he doesn’t stop. He continues walking, fully aware that he might have to sacrifice Will in order to catch the Chesapeake Ripper.

* This is the second part of my meta-analysis on the tv show “Hannibal”. It covers episodes 1-12 but I might update it after watching Savoureux. You can read the first part of the analysis here.

As always, special thanks to @weirdymcweirder for her insights on the series and for proofreading this.


How do you keep those whites so clean?

“If you’re going to show me those pictures, you should put a blood pressure cuff to my genitals. I find it gets a much truer gauge of reaction.”  – Dr. Gideon

Take Dr. Gideon’s Rorschach test now, and find out what kind of crazy you are!

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Peace in the Pieces Disassembled : Deconstructing Hannibal, part I

Now that I have watched Relevés and I have most of the pieces -or at least the corners- of this amazing puzzle, this totem pole of beauty and horror and awesome that Bryan Fuller created, I can finally start writing about it. The current post is the first part in a series of posts that I intend to write on “Hannibal”. These posts will rely heavily on the psychological, and, more specifically, the psychoanalytical perspective; not only because it is an important aspect of the show, but also because I feel that Bryan Fuller wants to comment on such issues as mental illness, neurosis, psychopathy, psychotherapy, social inclusion/exclusion, transference/countertransference, folie à deux, fears, phobias, mind vs body, nature vs nurture and so on. But, don’t you fret, dear reader, for I am no expert on psychoanalysis; the posts will be written in layman’s terms; simple definitions of psychological and psychoanalytic terminology will be provided when necessary.

I. When Hannibal fed Will’s dogs.

In order to follow this first part of the analysis I strongly recommend rewatching the scene from Oeuf (or Ceuf , I still haven’t figured out what the official title of this episode is) where Hannibal visits Will’s house in order to feed his dogs. I wanted to provide a YouTube link but, unfortunately I couldn’t find it anywhere. So, we will have to make do with lots and lots of screencaps, instead.

Some of you may not have watched the scene, since this episode never aired in America. I have to admit that I was shocked when I realized that the American audience had missed this one, as it is, in my opinion, the most important scene of the show. It is evident from the first episodes – and a fact that Fuller himself frequently comments on- that the first season focuses on the bromance between Will and Hannibal. This scene is literally an overview of the whole series, a brilliant portrayal of the dynamics in Will and Hannibal’s relationship, and a foreshadowing of what’s coming next. It is quite remarkable an achievement that Bryan Fuller manages to convey the essence of the show in just this one, short scene.

At first, we see Hannibal arriving at Will’s houseScreenshot_2013-06-15-09-29-49

The next shot is that of Will’s dogs; alert, still, and beautifully shot in a tableau vivant, as they sense someone out the door.

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Hannibal enters Will’s home. For a brief moment he entertains himself in an almost comical power play with Will’s dogs. He withholds their food, he teases them; and he seems quite amused with their reaction. The gesture shouts as an absolute statement of greater power status and higher intellect.

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Moreover, if we were to analyse the scene as an overview of the entire series we could say that, in the pilot episode, “Hannibal” teases the audience too, by withholding the first appearance of its protagonist. So, Will’s dogs symbolize us, as the audience. But they also symbolize us, as members of modern society. Hannibal hides his inhumanity behind one of the fundamentals of human civilization – the sharing of food. There is a hard-to-miss parallel between the dogs eating the sausages happily and the dinner guests applauding in the final scene of Sorbet

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Nothing here is vegetarian.

But Will’s dogs work best as a symbol for Will himself. Hannibal throws the dogs off his scent by feeding them sausages, the same way he throws Will off his scent by “feeding” him other murderers, misguiding tips and suggestions that Jack Crawford is manipulating him – “ A manipulative method in itself”, as Gideon very smartly remarks in the next episode. Notice that Will is often referred to as a bloodhound; Hannibal refers to him as such in the first scene of Oeuf; Alana confides in Hannibal that Jack “is grooming” Will to catch the Cheasapeake Ripper. Will, of course, is already on Hannibal’s scent, but he gets so confused by all the other scents – especially Garrett Jacob Hobbs’s -, that he never manages to actually see Hannibal for who he is. His subconscious keeps on providing clues, the most important one being the stag that preoccupies his nightmares and his hallucinations.

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The stag (or Dire Ravenstag, as most Fannibals call it) represents not just Hobbs, but both Hobbs and Lecter. We know that it represents Lecter for two reasons: a) The stag has raven feathers on. The raven, of course, is one of Hannibal’s symbols in the series. Remember that the first victim of Hannibal Lecter’s that we see on the show is being pecked at by ravens.

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b) Stating the obvious: Lecter has almost an exact same stag statue in his office. It is the one he kills Tobias with, and it is almost always seen behind Will’s or Hannibal’s head in their sessions.

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And speaking of the stag, I recently read this amazing little tidbit on tumblr . Don’t miss it!

So…

Hannibal walks over to Will’s piano.

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As @elucipher remarks in her meta analysis “Will’s home and Hannibal’s Blood  in 1.04” (which, by the way you should definitely read, along with every other post she ever made on “Hannibal”) he plays the opening notes of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring,  but quickly realizes that the piano is discordant, which makes him lose interest in it. This can be read as a simple “No, no, no!” to imperfection. But, it could also hint at something much deeper than Hannibal’s characteristic obsessive-compulsive strive for perfectionism. Hannibal examines the discordant piano that needs winding, with the same indifference and apathy that he will examine a “discordant” Will during an epileptic fit – ok, sure, a mild epileptic fit – and leave him standing there like a puppet without strings. That is  the most cruel, dehumanizing thing we have ever seen Hannibal do thus far and I can hear an echo of those discordant notes whenever I watch Will smile that grotesque smile in Rôti.

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If the discordant piano is a symbol for Will’s mind/psyche (i.e. needs winding and some new strings  in order for Hannibal to play it properly) it makes perfect sense that Hannibal’s own harpsichord (mind/psyche) will be wound perfectly later, in Fromage. After all,

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“Dr. Lecter is the sanest man I know.”

The metaphor of Will as a broken, discordant musical instrument is also highlighted in Fromage.  I will again refer to @elucipher, this time on her analysis “Will Graham’s eyes; or why Hannibal is not gratuitous murder porn”  where she explains that the establishing shot in the scene where the geek forensic scientists talk about the murder of the cellist in Fromage is focused on Will. We expect to see the corpse when the “… played him like a fiddle” quote is uttered but we see Will instead.

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“… played him like a fiddle.”

Will’s own disturbing observation

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“Had to open you up to get a decent sound out of you”

to the corpse shows two things: a) his apparent inability to control these “other” voices; voices of serial killers, voices bred by his imagination, voices that clearly start to bleed into his reality, and b) that as a true empath, whenever Will gets really aggressive toward others, it is because he projects his internal conflict. It is his own guilt and shame at being so messed up, broken, and “discordant”, like a piano that is untuned, that make him externalize his frustration. In other words, Will is the one who has to be “opened up” (through therapy) in order for Hannibal to make a decent sound out of him.

Next, Hannibal starts to look inside Will’s drawers. Oh, what joy!

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Hannibal is searching for the proverbial “dirty laundry”, for weaknesses and secrets, or simply for a better understanding of a human being that fascinates him enough to warrant playing this little game, instead of just murdering, eating him, and be done with it. This search refers to their psychotherapy sessions, where no sense of Will’s privacy will be left uninvaded. Everything will be poked, examined, scrambled. This is, of course, what psychiatrists do, and it is a healthy part of the therapeutic relationship. But the primary role of these sessions isn’t therapeutic – although I would  argue that Hannibal really wants to help Will with his neurosis-, but to provide Hannibal with information about the investigations, and most importantly, to let him search through the darkest corridors of Will’s mind.

Hannibal then takes brief note of a boat engine that is found in the living room, 

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which, as all nautical references and imagery in Hannibal, is used as a symbol for safety. You could call it Will’s safety blanket if you like. Hannibal doesn’t seem to care much for Will’s efforts to feel safe; such a feeling is not conducive to the kind of psychotherapy that he has in mind for Will. Having a “safe place” (e.g. his home, which resembles a boathouse) or a “safe activity” (e.g. repairing a boat engine) might be considered as building forts (i.e. psychological defense mechanisms,  resistance to therapy). Hannibal needs to tear down all of Will’s forts in order to achieve a psychological breakthrough. Note that the psychological breakthrough occurs when a client makes swift progress, particularly after a period of resistance, perhaps as a result of new insight. If Will is to understand and accept Hannibal for who he is, if he is to become a true friend to Hannibal, then he has to transfer all feelings of safety and security to Hannibal. Hannibal needs to break Will first, and then rebuild him in his own image.  In theory, with enough psychic driving and manipulation, Will should be able to transfer to Hannibal the feelings of being secure and safe, feelings that he had when he was around his father (i.e. transference). I am not convinced that Will’s relationship with his father was as good as he presents it to be, though. Nevertheless, transference does occur, as the following dialogue suggests:

In Amuse-Bouche Hannibal tries to discourage Will from returning to his “safe place” and manipulates him  into admitting that he liked killing Hobbs.

Will: “I should have stuck to fixing boat motors in Louisiana”

* I should have stayed where I was safe. *

Hannibal: “A boat engine is a machine, a predictable problem. Easy to solve. If you fail, there is a paddle. Where was your paddle with Hobbs?”

* This safety is an illusion, one of the many forts you’ve built. Predictable, easy for me to tear down (solve). If you were really safe then you would have had a paddle with Hobbs. *

Will: “You’re supposed to be my paddle.”

* You ‘re supposed to be my paddle. * (transference)

Hannibal: “I am. It wasn’t the act of killing Hobbs that got you down, was it? Did you really feel so bad because killing him felt so good?”

*Now that you have transferred your feelings of being safe and secure to me, I can use all the psychic driving that I want.*

Will: “I liked killing Hobbs.”

* I had an insight. I am evil. You are correct. *

*The use of transference (i.e. when the patient transfers his emotions for parent figures to the therapist) and countertransference (when the therapist becomes emotionally entangled with the patient) in “Hannibal” will be thoroughly discussed in following posts.*

Finally, Hannibal walks over to Will’s desk and fixes Will’s lure. There is nothing subtle about this, no secret symbols one can’t see on first viewing. I mean, he literally makes a lure for Will!

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The fishing lure is Abigail’s symbol in the series.

In later episodes we will learn that Abigail helped her father murder all those girls. She was the fishing bait that lured Hobbs’s victims to him. Hannibal intends to use her as a lure as well. Only this time it’s Will whom she’s supposed to lure.

In addition, by fixing the bait with such ease (he doesn’t even need Will’s magnifying glass),

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Hannibal positions himself as the alpha male, the better and stronger player in this game. But then, something odd happens.

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He pierces his finger on the hook and then licks his own blood. This is Hannibal realizing that all the misdirection, all the “baits” he’s thrown to Will, will eventually be thrown back at him and bring his own demise. He knows that if there is a person in this world that could ever match his intellect, that person is Will. Because what Will may lack in intellect, he makes up for in empathy. I may be completely off the mark here but I believe that Hannibal is genuinely afraid of Will’s empathy. He is fascinated by it, he is having a blast “playing” with it, but he knows that it will bring his demise, eventually. The licking of his own blood also alludes to the influence Will will come to exert on him through their psychotherapy sessions (i.e. countertransference). Whether intellectual or psychological, Hannibal embraces the challenge when he licks his blood. Fear must be a welcome addition to his – rather poor- template of emotions. The scene carries extra punch when later in the episode Will thanks Hannibal for feeding his dogs; we know now that he invited him into his home just like he invited him into his mind.

The only thing missing from this scene is the “Why”.

Why does Hannibal keep playing this game, if he knows that a bloody hook awaits?

Many hypotheses have been suggested. Mine will be presented in the next posts.

That is, if I survive the finale…

Special thanks to @weirdymcweirder for proofreading this!