Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 18: Relocation of the Grahams; Reba sleeps with Francis

CATEGORY: MOVIES    [Hidden plot related]

The Graham family is relocated from Captiva.

In part 12 of the analysis, we left off at the scene in Florida in which Molly has opened the door of the Graham home and is greeted by a state trooper. After this scare (the authorities thought the Tooth Fairy might have come to the home), Molly and Kevin are moved to a new residence, so that they will be safe from the killer.

Shortly after the relocation, we see Will and Kevin inside a grocery store. As the two of them begin to discuss the danger the family might be in, Kevin says, "This guy's gonna kill us?" Will responds, "We don't know that yet." Kevin then asks, "When are you gonna kill him?", and Will answers, "I'm not - it's only my job to find him." "This guy", and "him" (in "it's only my job to find him"), ostensibly refer to Dollarhyde, but the Manhunter audience is to infer that they are really references to Will himself. Recall that Will is trying to resolve his psychical dilemma of whether or not he is a killer - he needs to 'find' himself.

In the next scene, Molly and Will are sitting on a pier, and she refers to him as 'William'. This suggests some level of alienation between the two of them. Next, as Will sits in an airport restaurant, he looks at his reflection in a window next to his seat and says to himself, "It's just you and me now, sport. I'm gonna find you God damn it." Once again, we get an indication that it is himself whom Will is trying to find.

The following scene takes place at Gateway Labs, where Dollarhyde works - this is the scene in which Dollarhyde first meets Reba. We have already noted that in this scene, she tells him that he "speaks very well", and that at one point she tries to put her hand on his face and he stops her from doing so. Next, after Reba has agreed to be driven home by Francis, with there to be a special stop on the way, we have the scene in a veterinarian's office, where Reba and Francis are allowed to view an anesthetized tiger. Here we notice that as Reba rubs the tiger with her hand, Dollarhyde, who is standing at a distance, behaves as if he is in a mild state of sexual arousal, as if Reba is rubbing him (see the two screencaps below).

During the next sequence of scenes, which takes place at Dollarhyde's residence, we notice that after Dollarhyde and Reba are done having sex, and after Reba has gone to sleep, Francis puts her hand over his mouth. It is as if he is now 'taking back' his having stopped her from touching his face in the lab scene; he is 'letting' her follow through.

Above left: At Gateway labs, Francis doesn't want Reba to put her hand on his face. Above right: Later, at Francis's house, Francis pulls Reba's hand onto his face while the two of them are in bed together.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 17: The Whore of Babylon and the Beast of Revelation


Whore of Babylon (colored woodcut from Luther's bible translation for Revelation 17). [Image: public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

In part 15 of the analysis, we discussed how Manhunter makes reference to the biblical book of Revelation by its use of William Blake's painting, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun.[a] Later, in part 16, we explored the use of contrapasso in the movie, including that regarding the death of Mrs. Leeds. We can make a connection between these two aspects of the movie if we go back to Lecktor's 'book code', in particular, to Revelation 18:7 (in part 13, a breakdown of the entire book code was given). Revelation 18:7 reads [New International Version], "Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, 'I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.'" The first part of the verse is obviously suggestive of contrapasso, but then we must ask, who is referred to by "she" and "her"? Who is this woman whom the bible says lived luxuriously, and now must suffer torment and grief?

To answer this question, we must first provide ourselves with some background knowledge by going to the beginning of Revelation 17, which falls under 'The Great Whore and the Beast'. Below are quoted verses 1-6 of Revelation chapter 17 [New International Version]:

1. One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries." 3. Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. 4. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. 5. The name written on her forehead was a mystery: babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. 6. I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished.

Babylon was an actual city which existed during the time the author of Revelation lived. It was the capital of Babylonia, a civilization in Lower Mesopotamia, and has long held a place in Abrahamic religions as a symbol of excess and dissolute power. Many references are made to Babylon in the bible, both literally and allegorically. The mentions in the Old Testament tend to be historical or prophetic, while New Testament references are more likely figurative, or cryptic references possibly to pagan Rome, or some other archetype.[b] The important thing to note here is that in the book of Revelation, Babylon is mainly an allegorical kingdom. In the above passage, the woman on the beast is The Whore of Babylon, a Christian allegorical figure of evil. The Whore's apocalyptic downfall is prophesied to take place in the hands of the beast with seven heads and ten horns.

There is much speculation within all Christian religious perspectives on what the Whore and Beast symbolize, but for our current purposes, it is sufficient to simply say that the Whore represents Babylon itself. We then need to determine whether there is a character in the movie who represents the Whore, and then see what Babylon itself represents within the context of the movie, i.e., which allegorical interpretation(s) of Babylon is/are being used by the movie-makers. As mentioned above, ancient Rome is one possible interpretation. Many protestant and non-catholic churches interpret the Whore of Babylon to be the Catholic Church which is in union with the pope. Also, one preterist interpretation of the Whore is that she represents Earthly Jerusalem. Many Biblical scholars and theologians point out that although Rome was the prevailing pagan power in the 1st century when the book of Revelation was written, the symbolism of the Whore of Babylon refers not to an invading infidel of foreign power, but to an apostate false queen, a former "bride" who has been unfaithful and who, even though she has been divorced and cast out because of unfaithfulness, continues to falsely claim to be the "queen" of the spiritual realm. This symbolism did not fit the case of Rome at the time. Proponents of this view suggest that the "seven mountains" in Rev 17:9 are the seven hills on which Jerusalem stands and the "fall of Babylon" in Rev 18 is the fall and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The dress of the Whore of Babylon is similar to the Jerusalem High Priest in Exodus 28:6.

Several Old Testament prophets referred to Jerusalem as being a spiritual harlot and a mother of such harlotry (Isaiah 1:21; Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:1–11; Ezekiel 16:1–43; Ezekiel 23, Galatians 4:25). Some of these Old Testament prophecies as well as the warnings in the New Testament concerning Jerusalem are in fact very close to the text concerning Babylon in Revelation, suggesting that John of Patmos, author of the book of Revelation, may well have actually been citing those prophecies in his description of Babylon.

For example, in Matthew 23:34–37 and Luke 11:47–51, Jesus himself assigned all of the bloodguilt for the killing of the prophets and of the saints (of all time) to the Pharisees of Jerusalem, and, in Revelation 17:6 and 18:20,24, almost identical phrasing is used in charging that very same bloodguilt to Babylon. This is also bolstered by Jesus' statement that "it's not possible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem." (Luke 13:33)[c]

Mrs. Leeds represents the Whore of Babylon in Manhunter. For it is Francis Dollarhyde who killed Mrs. Leeds, and he represents a 'Satan figure', as does the Beast of Revelation (the beast described in the passage above; as an aside, note that both this beast, and the red dragon from Revelation 12, have seven heads and ten horns). We know this beast caused the death of the Whore of Babylon, because Revelation 17:16 [New International Version] says, "The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire."

According to idealist eschatology, the beast represents the kingdoms that will bear rule over the world from Adam till the second coming of Christ. While in the spirit, this beast is seen as a personality as in Revelation 19:20, in the physical sense he is represented at different ages throughout the period of human existence as different kingdoms. The import of this interpretation is that as the Whore - Mystery Babylon (in Revelation) - is seen to be riding this beast, the beast is in other words the seat of operation of the whore from where she is expressed, and by whom her dominion is exercised. This corresponds to Revelation 13 where the power exercised by this beast was completely that of the dragon. This brings to light the scriptural fact that the government of the nations are puppets in the hands of this beast consistent with the truth that the whole world system is under the dragon, the god of this world.[d]

a. Improperly identified by Dollarhyde as 'The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Rays of the Sun'.
b. Wikipedia, 'Babylon'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. Wikipedia, 'Whore of Babylon'. Web, n.d. URL =
d. Wikipedia, 'The Beast (Revelation)'. Web, n.d. URL =


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 16: Contrapasso in the movie


Dante Alighieri, attributed to Giotto, in the chapel of the Bargello palace in Florence. This oldest picture of Dante was painted just prior to his exile and has since been heavily restored. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Dante Alighieri' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

This post is a continuation of our discussion of the symbolism, metaphor, and allegory that are contained in Manhunter. We have talked about the book of Revelation, and now we will look at a different topic, that of contrapasso. Contrapasso is the process by which souls serve penance in Dante's Inferno (Hell), according to the nature of their sins in life. A literal translation would be "counter-suffering." It is the ironic cosmological law ensuring that "the punishment fits the crime." An example of this would be in Canto 20 of the Inferno,[a] where the fortune tellers and diviners walk backwards for eternity, with their heads turned around to face behind them, and their eyes blinded with tears.[b]

Two examples of contrapasso in Manhunter are the punishments that Mrs. and Mr. Leeds undergo when they are killed by Dollarhyde. As shown in the screencap at left, the Leeds are in their kitchen, eating, in the family's home movies that Graham views while in his Atlanta hotel room. Both of them are guilty of the sin of gluttony (overindulgence in food or drink), which is one of the sins punished in Dante's Hell. Mrs. Leeds' contrapasso for gluttony is to be strangled (recall that Dollarhyde's bullet initially disabled her, then she died by strangulation). And, Mr. Leeds has his throat cut; this is his contrapasso for gluttony.

There is also contrapasso in the torture and death of Freddy Lounds: he is a writer for The National Tattler, and in this capacity he engages in gossip. The Tattler's writers violate the privacy of celebrities and other individuals by informing the public on their private matters, an example of this being Lounds' story about Will Graham being in the hospital recovering from the injury inflicted on him by Lecktor, complete with a photo of Graham in bed with his wound exposed. Lounds' contrapasso is to be bitten on the mouth by Dollarhyde; later, in the hospital scene, Graham asks the doctor who treated Lounds if he said anything before dying, and the doctor answers that he did not. Also, recall that Lounds is 'knocked out' by Dollaryde (in the garage scene) by having a piece of cloth placed over his mouth (the cloth no doubt contained some kind of noxious chemical, such as chloroform).

Above left: Dollarhyde bites Freddy Lounds on the mouth. Above right: Earlier, in order to facilitate kidnapping Lounds, Dollarhyde pressed a chemical-containing cloth over his mouth and nose to render him unconscious.

a. The Inferno is divided into 33 sections, or cantos.
b. Wikipedia, 'Contrapasso'. Web, n.d. URL =


Friday, September 25, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 15: The Great Red Dragon paintings


Above left: William Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. This painting refers to Revelation 12:12-17, and is the one Francis Dollarhyde shows to tabloid reporter Freddy Lounds, but it is misidentified by Dollarhyde, during his session with Lounds, as "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Rays of the Sun", which is an alternate name for Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun. Above right: William Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, which refers to Revelation 12:1-4. This painting is not shown in Manhunter, but going by what Dollarhyde says to Lounds, Francis has the (alternate) name of it in mind when speaking to him. [Images from the Wikipedia 'The Great Red Dragon Paintings' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Above left and right: Francis Dollarhyde shows Freddy Lounds his slide of William Blake's The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, but, as noted above, he refers to it as "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in the Rays of the Sun".

In part 13 of the analysis, we established that Manhunter makes reference to the biblical book of Revelation. Now we will examine parts of chapter 12 of that book, which falls under the heading, "The Woman and the Dragon." Below are quoted Revelation 12 verses 1-4, which, as indicated at the top of this post, are referred to by the yellow-themed painting:

1. A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. [New International Version]

The great red dragon in the foregoing passage represents Satan, and verse 4 above depicts Satan's first downfall. Recall that Dollarhyde tells Lounds that he (Lounds) is "privy to a great becoming", and then a short while later in the same scene, in the note he records Lounds reading (shown below), he identifies himself as the Red Dragon. This implies that he identifies with the great red dragon from Rev. 12:1-4, so we can conclude that he represents a 'Satan figure', i.e., he in some way represents Satan's presence.

The beginning of the note Dollarhyde forces Lounds to read into a tape recorder, reads, "I have had a great privilege. I have seen with wonder and awe the strength of the Red Dragon. All I wrote about him were lies." Lounds had written lies in his Tattler article about the 'Tooth Fairy' (Dollaryhde) in order to draw him into a trap. The point is that in the note, written by Dollarhyde specifically for Lounds to read, Francis is referring to himself as the Red Dragon.

Revelation 12:12-17 are the verses referred to by the left-hand painting above, and read as follows:

12. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short. 13. When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14. The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the wilderness, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. 15. Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring--those who keep God's commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus. [New International Version]

Above left: Later in the movie than the scene with Lounds discussed above, while Dollarhyde and Reba are standing outside together after having had sex, Dollarhyde tells Reba she looks good in the sun; these words used by Dollarhyde evoke the image of the yellow painting. Above right: Still later, when Dollarhyde stands over Reba menacing her near the movie's ending, with Reba wearing a reddish blouse, it evokes the image of the red painting. All of this indicates that Reba herself represents the woman in Revelation 12. Also, this woman is said to be pregnant; the reason Francis hesitates when it seems he is going to kill Reba, is because he impregnated her when he had sex with her, and at some point while standing over her, he 'senses' that she is carrying his offspring.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 14: The biblical book of Revelation


In the previous post, we observed that Lecktor's book code refers to the biblical book of Revelation. Here in this post, we will look at a general description of the book of Revelation.

The book of Revelation, also called the Revelation of St. John, the Apocalypse of John, and the Revelation of Jesus Christ, is the last book of the Christian bible's New Testament. It is the only biblical book that is wholly composed of apocalyptic literature. Apocalypse is a term applied to the disclosure to certain privileged persons of something hidden from the majority of humankind. Today the term is often used to refer to the end of the world; this is the topic of the book of Revelation.

Revelation is divided into seven cycles of events. The number seven appears frequently as a symbol within the text. The chapters of Revelation present a series of events, full of imagery and metaphor which detail the chronology of God's judgement on the world. Exact interpretations of the chronology of Revelation vary extensively. The work may be interpreted literally, as a chronological list of events that will occur as the time of Revelation grows near. At the same time, the imagery can be seen to contain symbolic commentaries on the world during the historical period in which Revelation was written, or "pre-commentaries" on our world today.

The futurist view of the book of Revelation assigns all or most of the prophecy to the future, shortly before the second coming; especially when interpreted in conjunction with Daniel, Isaiah 2:11-22, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-5:11, and other eschatological sections of the bible. Futurist interpretations generally predict a resurrection of the dead and a rapture of the living, wherein all true Christians and those who have not reached an age of accountability are gathered to Christ at the time God's kingdom comes on Earth. They also believe a tribulation will occur - a seven year period of time when believers will experience worldwide persecution and martyrdom, and be purified and strengthened by it. Futurists differ on when believers will be raptured, but there are three primary views: 1) before the tribulation; 2) near or at the midpoint of the tribulation; or 3) at the end of the tribulation.

The various views on tribulation are actually a subset of theological interpretations on the Millennium, mentioned in Revelation 20. There are three main interpretations: Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Postmillennialism. Premillennialism believes that Christ will return to the Earth, bind Satan, and reign for a literal thousand years on Earth with Jerusalem as his capital. Thus Christ returns before ("pre-") the thousand years mentioned in chapter 20. Amillennialism, the traditional view for Roman Catholicism, believes that the thousand years mentioned are not a literal thousand years, but is figurative for what is now the church age, usually, the time between Christ's first ascension and second coming. This view is often associated with Augustine of Hippo.[a] In Postmillennialism, Christ's second coming is seen as occurring after the one-thousand years.

a. Wikipedia, 'Book of Revelation'. Web, n.d. URL =


Manhunter analysis - part 13: Lecktor's book code refers to Revelation


Up until now, we have been doing what one might call a 'basic' analysis of the movie; in this post we will begin to explore the movie's deeper underlying themes.

We need to see if there is a specific instance of symbolism or metaphor that will provide a starting point. One place we could start is to look at the 'book code' Lecktor used in the personal ad he sent to The National Tattler. When we look at each valid biblical book and verse combination that is mentioned in the investigators' meeting, as being contained in Lecktor's book code, here is what we come up with:[a]

Luke 1:7 falls under "The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold", and says, "But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years." ["They" is the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth, and 'barren' means sterile.]

Acts 3:3 is under "Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar", and says, "When he [the beggar] saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms."

Galatians 6:11 is the first verse under "Final Admonitions and Benedictions."[b] It says, "See what large letters I make when I am writing with my own hand!" The next few verses go on to talk about circumcision.

John 6:22 falls under "The Bread From Heaven", which is preceded by "Jesus Walks on the Water", and has to do with the performing of miracles by Jesus. The verse says, "The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had only been one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone."

Finally, Revelation 18:7 is under the heading "The Fall of Babylon" and states, "As she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, so give her a like measure of torment and grief. Since in her heart she says, 'I rule as a queen; I am no widow, and I will never see grief,'" [continued at 18:8]

Of the five passages above, only the one from Galatians strikes us, at least initially, as having applicability to the movie: the mention in verse 11 of writing in one's own hand reminds us of the fact that it was Lecktor himself who wrote the top part of the toilet tissue note. However, if we check further by reading all the descriptive headings in each of the five biblical books that we are considering here, we note that Revelation 12, verses 1-6, fall under "The Woman and the Dragon." The reason this is noticeable is, of course, because it reminds us of the image of the Great Red Dragon painting Dollarhyde shows to Freddy Lounds, on a movie screen in his house (as shown in the below screencap). When we read this section, we notice that verse 3 says, "Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads." We will soon begin exploring this lead.

Dollarhyde shows Freddy Lounds the William Blake painting, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun.

a. The New Revised Standard Version of the bible is used throughout this analysis, except in the biblical quotations embedded in St. Augustine's City of God, and where otherwise noted. What is meant here by a valid combination of book and verse, is whether such a combination actually exists in the bible. This is irrespective of the fact that in the movie, Lecktor turned out not to be using the bible to generate his code.
b. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians is his letter to the people of the Roman province of Galatia. He is thought to have composed this letter in anger - it is a rebuke to the Galatians.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 12: Graham is manipulated into going to Florida

CATEGORY: MOVIES     [Hidden plot related]

We left off part 11 with Dr. Chilton having read the toilet tissue note to Graham and Crawford. Later, after the note has been transferred from the prison in Baltimore to the FBI in Washington, it undergoes extensive lab analyses. Following this, there is a meeting among the investigators and other personnel to discuss the lab results, and during this meeting, a coded 'response' to the note from Lecktor comes through and is read to the investigators. The response is an ad to the National Tattler 'personals' section, and is in the form of a 'book code'. After trying and failing to figure out what the coded response says, a decision is made to go ahead and run the ad as is, without knowing what it says. Graham volunteers himself as bait in a trap to draw out Dollarhyde. Later, Graham, Crawford, and Dr. Bloom give Freddy Lounds fictitious information on the Tooth Fairy, so that Lounds can write up an article that will, hopefully, entice the Tooth Fairy into this trap. However, the Tooth Fairy (Francis Dollarhyde) does not fall for the setup. Later, in the hospital where Lounds has been taken, after being tortured and set on fire by Dollarhyde, Crawford approaches Will and informs him that one of the other investigators (Lloyd Bowman) has now figured out Lecktor's 'book code': Crawford tells Will that it says, "Graham home, 3860 DeSoto Highway, Captiva, Florida. Save yourself - kill them all." This is a critical point in the movie: it is the culmination of the intended effect of Lecktor's psychological manipulation of Graham up to this point. The translated book code is the 'message' sent by Lecktor to Will: Upon hearing the message, Will immediately runs to get a flight to Florida, where the Graham's Captiva home is located; ostensibly, this is to protect Molly and Kevin from the Tooth Fairy, but in reality, he is headed there to kill his own family.

Above Left: Crawford (standing at left) reveals to Graham the decoded book code message. Above right: Upon hearing the message, Will immediately runs to get a flight to Florida.

Once Will has headed out of the hospital, the next scene takes place inside the Graham home: we are shown Kevin waking up Molly and telling her that someone is outside. The purpose of showing this scene immediately after Graham runs to get a flight, is to suggest that it might be Will (as a killer) who is outside. Luckily, when Molly answers the front door, she is met by a state trooper.

Above left and right: As we follow Molly toward the front door of the Graham residence in Captiva (left), we are shown a view of a colorful aquarium filling the screen (right).

It should be mentioned here that when Lecktor made the phone call from his cell to get Will's home address, the street name and number given to him were '3680 DeSoto Highway'; but the translated book code says 3860 DeSoto Highway, as indicated above - the '6' and the '8' are transposed. Lecktor has intentionally used the transposed number in his coded 'response' to Dollarhyde's note, which he knows is going to be read to Will, in order to give Will the 'opportunity' not to murder his family. As described earlier, Will's unconscious has been trying to resolve the issue of whether he himself is a killer or not. Lecktor has been playing on this dilemma within Will's psyche to implement his plan, so the suggestion to Will that he murder his own family must be given in such a way that it fits within the context of this dilemma - Will must be presented with an alternative to killing his family, then he is to resolve the dilemma by going ahead and killing them. That is why 'Graham home' is used in the message - it 'pushes' Will toward killing them. In short, the transposed numerical address provides the element of uncertainty within Will over which path he is to take, while at the same time, 'Graham home' gives him a nudge in the direction of going ahead and murdering them.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 11: More on the tissue note; manipulation of Graham

CATEGORY: MOVIES     [Hidden plot related]

Recall that Hannibal Lecktor used the epithet "Tooth Fairy" in his part of the tissue note; he must have known about the name from reading the case file Graham passed to him during their meeting, since that name had never been used by the press. Will must have written it in the case file himself. It is not surprising that Will wrote the name somewhere in the file - he uses the name in conversation with Crawford right after the meeting with the Atlanta police, before his meeting with Lecktor. Lecktor knows the name has not been used in the press because, as he mentions to Will, he has read about the killings in the papers. So Lecktor knows that Will knows of the name, and he knows that Will could not have gotten it from the papers either. But this raises a question: why didn't Will recognize the fact that Dollarhyde could not have known of the name, and therefore could not have written the entire note himself?

The answer to this has to do with Lecktor's manipulation of Will. Upon seeing the name "Tooth Fairy" in the file, Lecktor realizes that he can use this name to 'communicate' with Will so as to set up a 'special' relationship between himself and Will (remember, on Will's end all this takes place at an unconscious level). Lecktor's use of the name in the note helps 'bond' Will to him - it is a kind of shared special knowledge. In the interests of maintaining this bond, Will's unconscious does not 'want' to know whether Dollarhyde composed all of the note himself; thus, the possibility is not considered by Will's conscious mind.

When Dr. Chilton is finished reading the tissue note to Graham and Crawford over the phone, Graham tells Chilton to place it back in Lecktor's cell such that Lecktor won't know they've found it, ostensibly so that Lecktor will not try to warn the Tooth Fairy; but what is really going on here is that Graham wants the note replaced carefully in order to preserve his special relationship with Lecktor, and to preserve his own 'therapeutic' state of mind.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 10: The contents of the tissue note

CATEGORY: MOVIES     [Hidden plot related]

When Dr. Chilton receives the tissue note found in Lecktor's cell, he phones Jack Crawford's office and is placed in a three-way call with Crawford and Graham. He then tells the two men about the note being found, and commences to read it over the phone. Let us examine the contents of the note closely, to see how it is used to manipulate Graham. It starts as follows: "My Dear Dr. Lecktor, I wanted to tell you I'm delighted that you've taken an interest in me." In hearing this, Graham's conscious mind is assuming it is the Tooth Fairy addressing Lecktor, but what is really going on in Will's unconscious mind is much different: Lecktor has written his part of the note to read as if Will has written it - in other words, this first sentence is to be understood by Will as, 'I, Will Graham, wanted to tell you [Dr. Lecktor] how delighted I am you've taken an interest in me.' Lecktor is using the entire note such that when it is read to Will, it psychologically manipulates Will such that he acquires the thoughts which are expressed in the note, as if he had written them. Continuing with the text of the note,

"I know that you alone can understand what I am becoming. You alone know the people I use to help me in these things are only elements undergoing change to fuel the radiance of what I am becoming, just as the source of light is burning." Here Lecktor is suggesting to Will that he (Will) is becoming something, i.e., a metaphorical source of light. The people Will is 'using' are to be understood as the people in his personal environment - his wife, Molly, his son, Kevin, Jack Crawford, and Dr. Sidney Bloom; these are the people around Will who he uses to manipulate his own state of mind, as if he is doing psychotherapy on himself. Will has an unconscious need to 'find himself' - to resolve the issue of whether or not he himself is a killer.

The next part of the note says, "I have a collection of your press clippings. I think they are absurd, as are mine. 'The Tooth Fairy' - what could be more inappropriate." Here, Lecktor is making another suggestion to Will that the thoughts in the note are his own - the name 'Tooth Fairy' is in fact inappropriate in Will's case, not only because he is not being called this by others, but because he is not gay. The note continues, "Investigator Graham interests me. Very purposeful-looking. I hope we can correspond." Lecktor is here suggesting to Will that he (Will) is a purposeful individual, a suggestion which is meant to encourage his being 'goal-oriented' - as we will see, the goal to be the murder of his own family. Following this there is a piece of the note missing (as described earlier, Lecktor has designed things such that this looks to be the case), and then the last part, written by Dollarhyde, reads, "After I hear back from you, I might send you something wet", and is signed "Avid Fan" and has teeth marks pressed in it at the bottom. No one except Lecktor himself consciously knows that the note Chilton is reading, was composed by more than one person.

Above left and right: Dr. Chilton reads the tissue note found in Lecktor's cell, to Graham and Crawford over the phone. Note that he is not touching the note, but is instead using a letter opener to move it around on his desktop. What we are looking at here is the top portion of the note, which was written by Lecktor himself. Left: The bottom portion of the note, authored by Dollarhyde, lies to the left of the top portion.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 9: Dr. Dominick Princi is involved in a deception

CATEGORY: MOVIES    [Hidden plot related]

Recall that in part 5 of the analysis, we discussed the lecture given in Atlanta, on the cast of the Tooth Fairy's teeth: we said that the man giving the lecture, Dr. Dominick Princi, said that the Tooth Fairy had pegged lateral incisors, but he pointed to the canines while he said this; it as if he was indicating that they are the lateral incisors.

Princi was intentionally misleading those in his audience (the Atlanta police officers, and Will Graham and Jack Crawford). By pointing at the canines, which were the most prominent teeth in the cast, he was intending to imply that pegged teeth are abnormally prominent (i.e., abnormally long). Thus, anyone (i.e., Graham and/or Crawford) who had heard Princi speak, and had, on some other occasion, viewed the teeth marks in the tissue note, would not have thought there was any discrepancy between the marks, and what Princi said about the cast, since the canines are normally the most prominent teeth, and the most prominent indentations in the note are from the canines. If a lateral incisor had been pointed to by Princi while he was speaking, and anyone had noticed a discrepancy, i.e., that the bite marks in the tissue note did not indicate the killer had pegged lateral incisors, whereas the cast indicated that he did (pegged teeth being, in reality, underdeveloped), doubt would have been raised in one or more investigator's mind as to whether the marks in the tissue note were from the killer's teeth. Princi said and did what he did during the lecture to mislead his audience, in order to avoid any such doubt being raised; thus, we see that Princi is involved in a deception.

The impressions that are supposedly from the Tooth Fairy's teeth, in the tissue note found in Lecktor's cell, shown at left, not only do not indicate underdeveloped lateral incisors (as emphasized by the arrows pointing to them in the diagram), but they also show prominent marks made by the killer's canines, indicating they are his longest teeth, which is what we would expect anyone who had viewed the cast to think. As indicated above, since Princi, while holding up the cast during his lecture (shown in the below left screencap), pointed to the canines instead of the lateral incisors, while saying that the killer had pegged lateral incisors, anyone viewing the model during the lecture who lacked knowledge of dentistry would assume that "pegged" teeth are abnormally prominent, and would therefore, when viewing the impressions made in the note, not consider there to be a discrepancy between the teeth that made these marks, and the teeth in the cast. However, pegged teeth are underdeveloped, a fact that Princi doesn't mention during his lecture. The point is that Princi is deceiving his audience.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 8: Lecktor authored the top part of the tissue note

CATEGORY: MOVIES     [Hidden plot related]

Recall from earlier in the analysis, that uncertainty has been raised over whether it was the Tooth Fairy himself who wrote the entire toilet tissue note; for as explained, Beverly Katz was in error when she claimed that the hair found on the note was a definite match for the killer's hair. In fact, there is something in the movie which effectively disproves that the Tooth Fairy wrote all of the note: Recall that whoever wrote the upper portion of the note (the note had been torn into two pieces when the investigators obtained it), used the epithet "Tooth Fairy" in it; but, how could Dollarhyde have known that he was being referred to by that specific name at the time that the note was written? Recall that in the lecture given to the police in Atlanta, it was made evident to us that the name "Tooth Fairy" was being used only within the Atlanta police department - the officers' supervisor told them not to use the name in public or in any internal memoranda. Therefore, the press could not have found out about the name from the police, nor would they have found this out from any of the FBI investigators, who have not been interacting with the press. The point is that the press was unaware of the name "Tooth Fairy" at the time the note was written, so Dollarhyde himself had no way of knowing that he was being called by that name.

What actually happened was that Hannibal Lecktor himself authored the top portion of the note, after receiving Dollarhyde's original note and then cutting off the bottom portion of it. This portion contained teeth marks made by Dollarhyde using a set of false teeth, a small amount of writing, and was signed "Avid Fan." Lecktor disposed of the original top portion by flushing it down his cell toilet. He then composed his own top portion using a pen he had in his cell; the pen can be seen in a styrofoam cup on a shelf in his cell, while Graham is interviewing him (see left-hand screencap below). Lecktor must have known about the name "Tooth Fairy" from reading the case file Graham handed him during their meeting - Graham had written it there, after having heard it used in the police lecture.

Above left: A pen and scissors in Lecktor's cell. Above right: Lecktor can be seen closing a book quickly when he hears a guard approaching his cell. Note the blue object in his right hand (click image to enlarge) - this is the felt pen Lecktor later used to scratch out part of the note (as described below).

At one point after his meeting with Graham, Lecktor was shown quickly closing a book when he heard a guard bringing him a phone he requested (see above right screencap). It must be the case that he was here placing the tissue note in the book. He began writing his part of the note almost as soon as Graham left, and then called for the phone in order to get Will's home address. It was at this point that he hoped the guard would see him 'hiding' the note, and then bring it to Dr. Chilton - recall that this was how the note was eventually discovered: A guard saw Lecktor putting something in a book when prison staff came to do a cleaning of his cell. Lecktor 'combined' his own top portion with the original bottom part of the note, and it was these that the prison personnel found. Lecktor 'staged' things so that the note would be found; the guard who had earlier brought him the phone, simply did not notice him 'hiding' the combined note.

Hannibal was very ingenious in his preparation of the note: He first went over part of Dollarhyde's original note with a felt marker, then he cut the note (along the bottom of this marked portion) into two pieces using the scissors in his cell; then, he kept the bottom part of the note, flushing the rest down his cell toilet, as stated above. He then composed his own top portion, including the word "tattler" at the bottom of his part of the note. Next, he marked over the bottom portion of his part of the note, with the marked-over portion including the line on which "tattler" was written. Then, using scissors, he cut his part of the note along this line, making it look like it had been somewhat haphazardly torn, and such that the investigators would later find the top part of the word 'tattler' where Lecktor's part of the note had been cut. The plan was for the investigators to assume that both portions of the note were composed by Dollarhyde, as one note, and that Lectkor marked over a portion of this note, then decided to tear out this portion instead and throw it away. The investigators assumed that this missing portion of the note contained Dollarhyde's instructions to Lecktor on how to respond to the note, i.e., through the National Tattler (in the 'personals' section of the paper). This was exactly what Lecktor intended for the investigators to conclude, because what he planned to do was to compose a 'response' to the note designed to manipulate Graham into committing murder. This will be discussed in detail in subsequent posts in the analysis.

Left: The felt pen Lecktor used to mark out the section of the note that he later cut out, is the blue object sitting on the top of the book. As stated above, when Lecktor cut the note with scissors, he did it carefully, making it look like it had been torn.

Above left and right: Lecktor not only used the felt pen to go over part of the tissue note text, but he also used the pocket clip on its cap to pry off the face of the phone the guard brought him, so that he could get to the phone's electrical internals in order to connect with an AT&T operator (by using the metallic foil coating of the inner sleeve of a gum wrapper, to connect two electrical terminals inside the phone).


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 7: Will's visit with Lecktor, and the events surrounding it

CATEGORY: MOVIES     [Hidden plot related]

Graham meets with Lecktor.

We left off part 5 of the analysis with Graham and Crawford's meeting with the Atlanta police. After this meeting, Graham, who is walking outside the police building with Crawford, has a brief confrontation with National Tattler reporter Freddy Lounds. After this, Graham and Crawford have a conversation during which Crawford says, "maybe you do know something about him", and Will responds, "not enough." The 'him' being referred to is ostensibly the Tooth Fairy, but metaphorically, it is Graham himself - he is saying that he does not know enough about himself yet; he has not yet resolved the psychical issue of whether he is the healthy Will Graham, or if he is the deadly killer whose thoughts are going around in his head. These thoughts in Will's head are due to his previous violent confrontation with Hannibal Lecktor, which resulted in Lecktor's capture and imprisonement. Will says that he will be going to visit Lecktor "to recover the mindset", that is, to get in the proper frame of mind for getting inside the Tooth Fairy's head, to help the FBI apprehend him.

In the next scene, as Will's visit with Lecktor begins, Will tells Lecktor he needs his help. The surface meaning here is, of course, that he needs Lecktor's help to get information that will help the FBI apprehend the Tooth Fairy; but underneath this lies the idea that Will needs the Doctor's help to resolve the dilemma within his own psyche, that is, whether or not he himself is a killer. Effectively, the doctor begins a psychoanalysis of Will here; or more properly, he initiates Will's own self-analysis. It is the tension within Will's unconscious over whether or not he is a killer, that Lecktor is going to try and take advantage of, to try and push him toward a 'solution' which will enable him as a killer in reality.

After the intense and frustrating meeting with Lecktor is over, Will hurries out of Lecktor's cell area; the subsequent sequence of events is detailed below.

Top left and right: Will Graham runs down and out of the Baltimore prison building in a frantic manner, after his visit with Hannibal Lecktor. Above left and right: Once Will has been standing outside for a few moments and has calmed down, Freddy Lounds, sitting in his car at a distance, discretely snaps a few pictures of Will. Below left and right: Following this, an article about Will's seeking help from Lecktor, accompanied by a photo of Will, ends up on the cover of The National Tattler.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 6: A hint suggesting Graham's wounded psyche


As shown below, there is a scene in the movie in which a specific interaction between Will and Molly corresponds, somewhat, to one between Francis Dollarhyde and his coworker, Reba.

In the scene in which Dollarhyde and Reba are conversing in one of the rooms at Gateway Labs, we note that at one point Reba starts to put her hand on Dollarhyde's face (to see if he is smiling), and he grabs her hand before she can touch him - this behavior is due to his being very self-conscious about his cleft lip.

Above left: Molly tentatively reaches her hand toward the wound on Will's face (from Dollarhyde cutting him with a fragment of glass), and then she withdraws her hand before actually touching him. Above right: Will's healing wound, which will no doubt leave a scar, symbolizes his own psyche healing after his having been inside the killer's (i.e., Dollarhyde's) mind.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 5: Problems with the teeth cast and bite marks

CATEGORY: MOVIES     [Hidden plot related]

In part 4 of the analysis, we went over how the results of one of the lab analyses (the hair sample) done on the note found in Lecktor's cell were used incorrectly, thus raising the issue of how certain we can be that the Tooth Fairy himself is the person who wrote the entire note. In this post we'll look at a case of 'neglect' by the FBI concerning the note's analysis, and we'll see that had there not been this neglect, then the investigators would have been even less certain that the Tooth Fairy was, in fact, the person who wrote all of it.

We begin with a scene from early in the movie, in which a group of Atlanta police officers are being lectured by their supervisor about the Tooth Fairy and the killings. Graham and Crawford are present at this meeting. At the beginning of this scene, we see a man (Dr. Dominick Princi) lecturing the officers and others present while holding a cast of the Tooth Fairy's teeth (see screencap at left); he tells them that the cast was made by workers at the Smithsonian, from the impressions of bite marks found on Mrs. Leeds and Mrs. Jacobi. He states that a characteristic of the cast is that it indicates the killer has pegged lateral incisors. If we look carefully, we observe that that is true of the model itself: the second teeth back from center on either side (of the upper teeth), are underdeveloped and somewhat peg-shaped (the right lateral incisor is pointed to by the arrow - click image to enlarge). However, as shown in the screencap, while the lecturer, when speaking, refers to the lateral incisors, he is actually pointing to the canine teeth (the third teeth back).

The above observations on the teeth cast have to do with the tissue note, because the note has teeth marks embedded in it at the bottom, which were supposedly made by the killer's teeth. When we are later shown a close-up of these teeth indentations (shown at left), we notice that the marks do not indicate pegged lateral incisors (the teeth pointed to by the arrows), because pegged teeth are underdeveloped, and would leave smaller indentations. Thus, at this point we should have cause to wonder if it is the Tooth Fairy's teeth that made the marks in the note.

It's true that in a later scene, Dollarhyde is shown putting in false teeth in preparation for biting Freddy Lounds; so it seems that we are to assume that these false teeth are the ones he used to bite the women, and that the marks in the toilet tissue were made using a different set of teeth owned by him. However, the point is that Mann is here suggesting to us, the audience, via introducing the idea of uncertainty on the issue of the teeth, that something's not quite right about the way the FBI is handling things.


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