Manhunter is definitely one of my all time favorite movies, and there are many scenes which spark many different emotions but this one, the introduction of Hannibal played by the multi talented Brian Box is one which stand out. Brian’s portrayal of the criminal cannibal is very different from the charm emitted by Anthony Hopkins later on in the series, instead there is a sharp coldness and more cunning with his more animated character, the sexy factor is off and the game is on..
The standoff between the two men is spotless, smooth, and came at a time when Michael Man could deliver something fresh and new to his films. This lustre was lost after Last of the Mohicans.
Everything in the cell is white, this kills off any chance of being distracted the eyes are soon focused in on the two men, their verbal slamming of each other. A cruel and sadistic psychopath and a cop who had to take on his persona to try and find him, go head to head like an elaborate chess match. Graham (William Petersen) is here to ask for help, he’s struggling to track down a new serial killer.
Lecter knows that he has the upper hand, after all a cop is coming to him for help.. and he knows that he NEEDS his help.
The way the shot is framed for the most part shows both men behind bars, protected from each other and themselves. Both are putting on a front, trying not to back down from the other, trying to case the other man, mentally, but only Graham is hiding his fear.. Lecter is lapping up scent
Graham starts to check Lecter’s cell, the camera pans across keeping with his eye, everything neat and in order. Lecter notices and questions him bringing him back into the room, then questions him, “you came here to look at me” I don’t think Graham realises that Lecter had been studying him just as hard. Then things turn ugly and Graham rushes out the room. The entire hospital is white and we see Graham rushing outside both watching him and from his perspective. It gets dizzying and in the rush of vertigo the scene ends…
For the most part Graham was meeting Lecter not only to ask for help but he used the experience to internalise, the spark white walls is a representation of him clearing his head and eventually on the blank walls he starts to build his case to find the Toothfairy.