A Film Review: ‘Hannibal’ (2001)

Hannibal is the second film to be adapted from author Thomas Harris’ ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ trilogy and follows on from the events of the 1991 movie of the same name.

The plot centres upon the antics of the darkly fascinating cannibal Dr Hannibal Lector; as he continues to evade the authorities who hunt him. Since escaping the mental institution where he was imprisoned for decades, he has been placed on the Ten Most Wanted list and is being pursued by deformed millionaire Mason Venger, (played by Gary Oldman) who seeks revenge after an ill-fated meeting with Lector years earlier.

Sir Anthony Hopkins once again lends his incredible talents to the role of Hannibal, who has emerged from retirement to play a strange game of hide and seek with the now disgraced federal agent Clarisse Starling; as she longs to regain the respect of her fellow officers. In this 2001 sequel, the role of Clarisse is played by Julianne Moore and the recasting of leading  the actress is an initial shock, especially considering Jodie Foster’s show-stopping performance in the first movie. Thankfully any of the viewers’ doubts are soon shattered as Moore embodies the part and the plot progresses without a sign of artistic comprise.

Hopkins does not only play the character of Dr Lector but he becomes him, mutating into the cannibal and inhabiting every psychotic facet of the character’s being. The film is shot with exquisite attention to detail at the hands of filmmaker Ridley Scott who takes the reins from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ director, Jonathan Demme. Scott emphasises Hopkins’ skill with a number of relentlessly bloodthirsty scenes that showcase the outstanding combination of terror and intrigue which the actor evokes from the audience. Though the gore of the movie isn’t as outright as some of cinema’s latest offerings, the violence is so carefully added that the viewers’ mind enhances the impact of the film’s darkest scenes.

The artistic talents of the cast and filmmakers make this one of the most classic sequels of all-time. The acting is so powerful that even when Hannibal performs unthinkable acts of violence, there is still a spark of admiration for the remarkable intellect which lies within one of Hollywood’s most famous villains.

 

The Writer’s Anguish

Two days with no work done and the Writer fidgeted in his seat. As every lifeless, malformed sentence hit the page, he deleted it, painfully aware of its faults. The Writer’s face contorted as an attempt to grasp a newborn idea which tentatively stepped from the darkness into his empty head failed. He crafted two more lines and read them back three times before deeming them worthless and scrubbing them from existence; leaving nothing but a white page. He tried to summon a half-decent idea before reaching for a superior book in search of inspiration. The Writer wondered why his brain wouldn’t function to its full capacity, thinking of articles and stories he’d previously written and the praise they had gained. The way the structure of the tales flowed, deep and poetic, as they fell onto the page with imagery that formed beautifully detailed descriptions which the Writer had created. He pondered as to why the powerful entities of space and time refused to let him write works like those presently, as he struggled for ideas.

The Writer wished he could form worlds with complete plots and histories; he needed to write stories full of humour and magic which came alive and ran free within his mind, but all that remained in the Writer’s head were the bones of an article which lay untouched in the cave of his imagination.

He moved from his desk, exhausted by his own inability as the kettle boiled and held his head in an attempt to settle his frustrated mind.

The Writer returned to his work, completely drained, as his diversion to yet another story failed and his deserted consciousness echoed with the screams of long-dead tales.

He sat before an empty page struggling with the lack of creativity, biting his nails as the day drew to a close; the darkness draping itself across the Writer’s desk.

He had lost a furious battle with his creative mind after another day of lacklustre writing. He dragged himself up the stairs and into his bed as a terrible conflict began within his head. He asked why and what if, as he attempted to work out where his failures had emerged. He thought about every word and went over each paragraph repeatedly before finally resting.

The very second the Writer’s head touched the pillow, his brain came alive with thoughts and ideas to fill the empty pages. Characters and storylines sprang to life, whispering poetic dialogue that cried out to be written. Metaphors and imagery flowed from every corner of the Writer’s head compelling him to abandon his bed and create.

He wrote into the early hours of the morning, paying no attention to the time or his surroundings. The Writer crafted his tale in its entirety writing every idea which had previously evaded his imagination. He had regained his literary skill, and as everything else around him awoke to start a new day, the Writer slept a deep and triumphant sleep with his head resting upon his desk.

Creativity

This is a short story I wrote after a few days of being void of inspiration, all signs of a decent idea had left me and I got no writing done. Not nice. Then, suddenly inspiration returned, the creativity I had been starved of ran through my being once more and I began to craft my frenzied tales again.This brief lapse and swift regaining of ideas prompted me to write this piece. A short dedicated to creativity itself and to creatives the world over who know the thrills and struggles of having this powerful entity rattling around their heads.   

It flew through the air like a rocket, the atmosphere crackling as it shattered the space around its target. The air grew cold and a change was felt, as an unleashed power ran wild through time. It found its way into its location, biting into the mind as it entered. It shot through the veins of its target like bolts of electricity; lighting the spiralling landscape which it fuelled along its way.

It filled every corner of a once lifeless realm with ideas, thoughts and dreams, as it flew through the many spaces of its new dwelling. It scattered images and worlds beyond reality as it flitted between realms of wonder and destruction, of dreams and nightmares, heaven and peril. Interweaving words and stories blended and meshed into one, as discarded remnants of tales swirled around the space which a mysterious master inhabited.

It darted from luminous places where fluorescent beings entwined, and waltzed across shining, gleaming planes to psychedelic lands of hallucination and exotic atmospheres.

To images of darkness and despair, in which blood soaked warriors and tired corpses laid; their tortured souls and twisted spirits consumed by a remorseless shadow.

From dread and taboos to imaginative fantasies in which dragons and wizards of invincible power were thrown into an overflowing world of light and depth; characters stood upon high plains consumed by thunder, to visions of creatures in exciting multi-coloured universes populated by flying beasts with snarling fangs beyond their vivid red and orange fur.

Through those visions, a manic advisor, an idea in itself, guided the mind into a new consciousness. It was named creativity and the human body was a simple vessel for its purpose.

Death

This short story was published in issue 4 of Writing West Midlands’ ‘Write On!’ Magazine in 2014. It delves into humanity’s complicated relationship with demise and how we deal with it…

Death- a misrepresented act of existence trapped in a black shroud of peoples’ misunderstanding. It is engulfed by peoples’ bleak perception and skewed by their frightened views. Death brings suffering and pain, so they say, but does it really embody the shadow and darkness which mankind deeply fears? Does it truly swallow us in loss and sadness or is the agony that it brings of our own creation? Death is inescapable but yet we still hide from its grasp. Terrified we run unwilling to accept the reality of it. We mould it trying to fit its black form into a rational box of human making. We try to understand it, cope with it and acknowledge it in a way that is manageable for the unwilling mind. In the deepest state of pain and sadness we try to mould it into a position which is controllable, but in a state of pain is the cover of darkness which encompasses us, really the arms of death? Is it actually the cold embrace of another power which makes us cry and shriek? Is it a second force that guides our emotions? Does death control pain and darkness or is it grief which scars the mind? Is grief the one who makes the soul twist and the shadows darken? Does death leave us hurt or is it another force which controls the dark attack? Death merely takes away but grief rips through the soul. Death is sly in its actions; death is a thief who strikes suddenly but grief is a complicated entity which remains to swim in its carefully formed agony. Death is powerful, it takes life hourly on its sporadic spree, it can snatch or guide, demand or summon as grief follows in its dark wake. Is death really as dark as we perceive it to be? Is it really the cruel black thoughtless figure which mankind cannot escape from, or is grief the black shrouded man?

Why I Love Comics

I love comics and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you do too. I think the comic book medium is one of the most diverse and unique forms of artistry today, but the snobbery that surrounds it is incredible.

I struggle to fathom the idea now but I used to be a comic-snob, I’ve always loved books and read any sort of story I could find since I was little, but comics never truly appealed to me. As I grew older and even more geeky, I condemned them as juvenile things consisting of one-sided superheroes fighting baddies with a BOOM as they saved the day. Not my thing.

Until one day, I watched an interview with Cirque Du Freak author Darren Shan in which he said a favourite book of his was Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Darren spoke about the title with such enthusiasm that I hungered to check it out.

At the time, dear reader, I knew nothing of comic books apart from Batman, Superman, DC and Marvel.

The next time I was in a bookshop I asked a lady for a copy of this intriguing tome. I had no idea of its genre and after some confusion as to what exactly a ‘graphic novel’ was on my Mom’s part, I looked through it.

I was hesitant to buy a comic, but if it inspired Darren Shan who has always inspired me then it had to be good.

I came home and looked at my new purchase, dismissing the hairy man on the back of the graphic novel as a mad and interesting writer from somewhere in America; not yet realising that Alan Moore would soon become one of my greatest inspirations.

As I began to read Watchmen’s panelled pages, something incredible struck me. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have a condition called Quadriplegic Cerebral-Palsy, which has multiple effects, one of those being a difficulty to visually break-down the format of a prose book; which can make reading a complicated and slow task for me. Whilst reading Moore and Gibbons’ graphic novel, I realised that I could read the captions and panels much more easily, and the gaps between images and text enabled me to read at a quicker pace.

Not only did discovering the graphic novel make me an Alan Moore fan, exposing me to his massive body of work and creative genius, but It also proved to me that the comic realm is much more than capes and clichés. It is in fact a unique and intelligent medium that is alive with ideas and narratives, full of intellectual and artistic value. From Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman; a magical saga set in a sophisticated fantasy world with depth and scope, to its sibling title Lucifer which lends a more devilish prospective to the multifaceted storyline enhanced at the hands of author Mike Carey. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neil’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a work that takes advantage of the medium’s eccentric sensibilities, by interweaving several legendary fictional characters in a single imaginative world.  In more recent times, creations like Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga has shown the diversity of the genre, with its entwining of spaceships and satire whilst exploring political and deep subjects. Alternatively, Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s The Wake is a well-written and contemporary piece of graphic storytelling that stands out in this generation of creators.

The comics world is an artistic entity that thrives on innovation and passion with a strong history of stories, artists and writers. I am not a crazed philosopher trying to preach the ways of the graphic novel, but I’m writing this from the prospective of a fanboy who has been pulled into a vortex of panels and captions from which I am powerless to escape.

A Place of Inspiration

This short story was published in the 4th issue of Writing West Midlands’ online Magazine, ‘Write On!’ in 2014. A publication which showcases the work of young writers in the Midlands. It was my first piece to be printed in ‘Write On!’ and it was also chosen to be read out as part of Writing West Midlands’ ‘Page Talk’ event at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was a true honour to have my writing heard among such talented writers.

 

If inspiration was a place, it would be a realm of continuous creativity where imagination rules, where thoughts come to life and characters animate: flying, walking, talking, laughing and screaming around a world of fantasy.

A world where characters and stories intertwine with those of Dickens and Dahl. Works of the imagination run free within a realm of words and tales where pages of parchment fall from the sky filled with the notes of classic authors of immortal fiction.

Where murderers and villains roam free, poets converse with sorcerers, as demons and evil creatures battle mythical beasts. Warriors and professors walk through the diverse landscape as vampires talk between themselves over a glass of blood; zombies crouch over the open skull of an unidentified author desperate for a taste of the extraordinary brain.

Tolkien sits conversing with his own characters and frantically composes extraordinary previously unheard tales from Middle Earth as in the distance a dragon breathes fire, boiling a kettle from which a wizard with a long beard pours himself a cup of tea.

Witches stand over boiling pots,cackling as a walking skeleton dips a finger into the steaming broth, tastes and pours in the blood of a child.

In a land where leprechauns exchange tales with spectres and sorcerers do battle; ghosts, zombies, wizards and mythical creatures roam the entirety of their world. Where cries of laughter and pain weave into all the music known to man, where everything can be heard from the high and powerful tones of classical composers like Beethoven to the reggae vibrations of Bob Marley.

Imagination is the only limit in a place of inspiration.