Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hannibal analysis - part 14: Right and left symbolize conscious and unconscious


In Hannibal, Clarice Starling is depicted as somewhat ambidextrous; in the screen captures below, we note that she uses both her right and left hands. Carl Jung tells us that the right symbolizes the conscious mind and the left, the unconscious.[a]

Top left: Starling in the boar pen, with gun in right hand. Top right: Starling drawing with her left hand. Above left: Lecter signs his letter to Clarice with his right hand. Above right: Lecter drinking with his left hand. This shot is shown alternating with the writing of the letter. Left: Lecter has cut off his own left hand at the end; this symbolizes the 'severing'of that part of his unconscious that was tied up with his late sister, Mischa, and thus signals the end of his obsession for Starling (as indicated in part 13, Mischa Lecter was a character in the 2007 film, Hannibal Rising).

a. "[A] leftward movement is equivalent to a movement in the direction of the unconscious, whereas a movement to the right...aims at consciousness." (--Jung, C.G., The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 12, Princeton University Press, 1968, p. 127.)

[UPDATE: The analysis of Hannibal has been extended, in the 'unified analysis' of the first three Lecter movies.]

Hannibal analysis - part 13: Lecter desires to unite with his own unconscious


Within Hannibal Lecter's unconscious, Clarice Starling represents his sister, Mischa, with whom he was very close and who was killed and cannibalized as a child during World War II.[a] One thing being represented by Lecter's attempt to unite with Starling, is his attempt to unite with Mischa, and accordingly, an attempt to unite with a component of his unconscious (Jung called this component the anima). As Jung says, "That is one of the great difficulties in experiencing the unconscious—that one identifies with it and becomes a fool. You must not identify with the unconscious; you must keep outside, detached, and observe objectively what happens."[b]

a. Mischa Lecter is a character in the 2007 film, Hannibal Rising, which is a prequel to Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal.
b. Jung, C. G. The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1932 by C. G. Jung. Ed. Sonu Shamdasani. Princeton University Press, 1996. Google Books, pp. 82-83. URL =


Friday, September 24, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 41: Fundamentals of chakras


Chakra, also spelled Cakra, Sanskrit C̣akra, ("wheel"), are any of a number of psychic-energy centres of the body, prominent in the occult physiological practices of certain forms of Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism. The chakras are conceived of as focal points where psychic forces and bodily functions merge with and interact with each other. Among the supposed 88,000 chakras in the human body, six major ones located roughly along the spinal cord and another one located just above the crown of the skull are of principal importance. Each of these seven chakras is associated with a specific color, shape, sense organ, natural element, deity, and mantra (monosyllabic prayer formula). The most important of these are the lowest chakra (muladhara), located at the base of the spine, and the highest (sahasrara), at the top of the head. The muladhara encircles a mysterious divine potency (kundalini) that the individual attempts, by Yogic techniques, to raise from chakra to chakra until it reaches the sahasrara and self-illumination results. [a]

In subsequent posts we will be exploring how the chakras and their various functions are depicted in the Lecter movies.

a. 'chakra'. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 04 Sep. 2015. URL =


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 40: Lecter plans on becoming the god Abraxas


Engraving from an Abrasax stone. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Abraxas' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

In part 35 of this analysis, we observed that Hannibal Lecter desires to become Mercurius, a being whom Carl Jung says consists of all conceivable opposites. Ultimately, however, Lecter plans to become an even hire being: Abraxas. The word Abrasax (Greek ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ, which is far more common in the sources than the variant form Abraxas, ΑΒΡΑΞΑΣ) was a word of mystic meaning in the system of the Gnostic Basilides, being there applied to the “Great Archon” (Gk., megas archōn), the princeps of the 365 spheres (Gk., ouranoi). In Gnostic cosmology, the 7 letters spelling its name represent each of the 7 classic planets—sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

The word is found in Gnostic texts such as the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, and also appears in the Greek Magical Papyri. It was engraved on certain antique gemstones, called on that account Abrasax stones, which were used as amulets or charms. As the initial spelling on stones was 'Abrasax' (Αβρασαξ), the spelling of 'Abraxas' seen today probably originates in the confusion made between the Greek letters Sigma and Xi in the Latin transliteration.

Opinions abound on Abraxas, who in recent centuries has been claimed to be both an Egyptian god and a demon. Jung's Seven Sermons to the Dead calls Abraxas a god higher than the Christian God and Devil, that combines all opposites into one Being.[a] This is the god whom Hannibal Lecter ultimately desires to become.

a. Wikipedia, 'Abraxas'. Web, n.d. URL =


Monday, September 20, 2010

Hannibal analysis - part 12: The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz


In part 11 it was stated that Lecter desires to have a chymical marriage come about between himself and Starling. Chymical Marriage is also part of the name of a book: The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz. The story in the book follows the Passover and the seven days of unleavened bread. The slaughtering and roasting of the Paschal lamb begins in the evening (near Easter), as does The Chymical Marriage. The Chymical Marriage begins with Christian Rosencreutz sitting at a table with both the Paschal Lamb and the unleavened bread. The events of this story span seven days and are divided into seven chapters, each chapter being a different day.

In Hannibal, Paul Krendler represents the Paschal Lamb from the Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz (recall that earlier in the analysis, it was mentioned that the name 'Krendler' is a reference to Passover seder). Hannibal Lecter's meal with Krendler and Clarice Starling (shown at left) is a depiction of the first day of the Chymical Marriage. (The chymical marriage is sometimes called the chymical wedding).

Below is the opening paragraph of The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz:

"On an evening before Easter-day, I sate at a table, and having in my humble prayer conversed with my Creator and considered many great mysteries (whereof the Father of Lights had shewn me not a few), and being now ready to prepare in my heart, together with my dear Paschal Lamb, a small, unleavened, undefiled cake, all on a sudden ariseth so horrible a tempest, that I imagined no other but that, through its mighty force, the bill whereon my little house was founded would fly all in pieces."[a]

a. The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz in The Real History of the Rosicrucians, Arthur Edward Waite, 1887, at


Hannibal analysis - part 11: The processes of alchemy


Evelda Drumgo (shown at left) represents Clarice Starling's Jungian shadow. The confrontation with the shadow is associated with the alchemical nigredo stage.

Alchemy is an ancient tradition, the primary objective of which was the creation of the mythical "philosopher's stone", which was said to be capable of turning base metals into gold or silver, and also act as an elixir of life that would confer youth and immortality upon its user. The philosopher's stone is created by the alchemical method known as The Magnum Opus or The Great Work.[a] Often expressed as a series of color changes or chemical processes, the instructions for creating the philosopher's stone are varied. The Great Work originally had four stages:

1) nigredo, a blackening or melanosis
2) albedo, a whitening or leucosis
3) citrinitas, a yellowing or xanthosis
4) rubedo, a reddening, purpling, or iosis[b]

Jung relates alchemy to psychology in his Psychology and Alchemy:

"The problem of opposites called up by the shadow plays a great - indeed, the decisive - role in alchemy, since it leads in the ultimate phase of the work to the union of opposites in the archetypal form of the hierosgamos or 'chymical wedding'. Here the supreme opposites, male and female (as in the Chinese yang and yin), are melted into a unity purified of all opposition and therefore incorruptible."[c] The chymical wedding (also called the chymical marriage) takes place during the alchemical citrinitas stage.

One of Lecter's goals is to have a chymical wedding come about between himself and Starling.

a. Wikipedia, 'Alchemy'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Magnum opus (alchemy)'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. Jung, C.G. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 12. Princeton University Press, 1968. p. 37.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hannibal analysis - part 10: Another biblical reference: Jews as children of the Devil


Above six screencaps: Looking at a video (through Starling's eyes) of an imprisoned Hannibal Lecter biting a nurse (at some point in time prior to the beginning of Hannibal), when we, the audience, get our first view of the video monitor digital readout (at the lower right of the monitor screen in the top left screencap), it shows '08:42:47'. We watch as it advances to '08:42:56' (middle right screencap), then the camera cuts to Starling's face for a couple of seconds; then when we are shown the video again, the readout has mysteriously gone back to '08:42:52' (lower left screencap), even though the action in the video has continued to proceed forward, i.e., Starling has not re-wound the video. It then advances to '08:42:53' (lower right screencap); then, after a few more seconds, the camera cuts to Starling again. Note the inconsistencies in what is shown on the monitor at the two '08:42:52' and the two '08:42:53' readings - it is as if the movie-makers are emphasizing these two particular readouts.

We are to take the initial display readout, '08:42:47', as a reference to the bible, Gospel of John chapter 8, verses 42-47, which comprise the section titled The Children of the Devil. From the New International Version of the bible (Jesus is here speaking to a crowd of Jews):

42. Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46. Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me? 47. He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."

As stated above, the readout advances to '08:42:56'. Verses 48-56 of chapter 8 of John fall under The Claims of Jesus About Himself. Verses 52 and 53 have been placed in bold-face type below, since those are the verses which seem to be 'emphasized' by the video monitor readout (as described in the caption to the screencaps). From the New International Version:

48. The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?" 49. "I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50. I am not seeking glory for myself, but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." 52. At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" 54. Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."


Hannibal analysis - part 9: Lecter's scented letter to Starling


Starling carefully opens the letter she has just received from Hannibal Lecter.

The Las Vegas postmark, no doubt placed on the envelope by a re-mailing service, is meant to appeal to Starling's 'trashy' side - it is designed to suggest that Lecter wants to have a 'quickie wedding' with her.

Later, while Starling is listening to a recorded tape of her interview of Lecter in Memphis, Tennessee,[a] she experiences a sudden urge to smell the letter. This use of her sensation function shows that she is becoming more like Lecter in terms of psychological functions - Lecter's goal is to 'modify' her as required and then unite with her.

A perfume expert 'determines' that the source of the scent is an ambergris base with "Tennessee lavender." Lecter used the ambergris for its aphrodisiacal properties. The lavender plant is native to dry climates and thus, would not normally grow in the damp American Southeast, where Tennesse is located. The point is that "Tennessee lavender" is a fictional name: the perfume experts are here helping Lecter to deceive Starling. Lecter has designed things so that the experts will give her a short list of perfume shops that includes the one where he bought the perfume, so that she can then trace him. From the beginning, Hannibal has set things up so that she is guided to him.

a. Starling's interview of Lecter in Memphis, is shown in The Silence of the Lambs, the Lecter movie that was released prior to Hannibal, in 1991.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 39: Lecter's and Starling's psychological types


Psychological Types is the title of the sixth volume in the Princeton / Bollingen edition of The Collected Works of C.G. Jung. In the book Jung categorized people into primary types of psychological function. Jung proposed four main functions of consciousness:
Two perceiving functions: Sensation and Intuition
Two judging functions: Thinking and Feeling

The functions are modified by two main attitude types: extraversion and introversion. Jung theorized that the dominant function characterizes consciousness, while its opposite is repressed and characterizes unconscious behavior.
The eight psychological types are as follows:
Extraverted sensation
Introverted sensation
Extraverted intuition
Introverted intuition
Extraverted thinking
Introverted thinking
Extraverted feeling
Introverted feeling[a]

It is evident that Hannibal Lecter's dominant function is thinking, with feeling his least developed function - he doesn't display much emotional affect in the movie. Also, as described in the analysis of The Silence of the Lambs, he makes reference to all five bodily senses in his first meeting with Starling, thus indicating that he has a strong sensation function. His intuition is also fairly well developed - recall that he tells Clarice that he would "know" if she were to lie. However, his sensation function is stronger than his intuition function.

In The Silence of the Lambs, Lecter is able to keep his thoughts occupied for lengthy periods of time while alone in his cell, suggesting that he has an introverted side. On the other hand, he has gotten to know the other prisoners fairly well, as indicated near the beginning of the film: He not only knows Miggs' name, but he also knows his disorder (multiple personality disorder), as indicated by his use of the epithet "multiple Miggs". In Hannibal he's working as a library curator, a job which is to some degree suited to an introverted type. However, his job function includes giving lectures before audiences, which is a somewhat extraverted activity. What's going on, at least in The Silence of the Lambs, is that Lecter is an extravert who is going through a 'period' of introversion (his imprisonment). In Hannibal, Lecter is closer to 'equalizing' his introverted and extraverted sides, which is in line with his desire to become Mercurius, whom, as Jung said, "consists of all conceivable opposites."[b]

Above left: Clarice Starling, here shown after she has first walked into Jack Crawford's office, is an introvert (as described below). Above right: Hannibal Lecter is an extravert who, in The Silence of the Lambs, is going through a 'period' of introversion (his imprisonment).

Clarice Starling is an introvert. This is indicated by her shyness in the presence of Jack Crawford near the beginning of The Silence of the Lambs, as well as by the shyness and tentativeness exhibited by her during her first interview of Lecter in the same film. She is oriented more by feeling than by thinking, as indicated when she 'handles' certain situations by having emotional reactions accompanied by flashbacks to her childhood (as shown in the two screencaps below). What we have regarding Clarice Starling is that initially, feeling is her strongest function, with thinking being her least developed. However, the fact that later in the movie she uses thinking to solve Lecter's 'Louis Friend' clue (it's an anagram for 'iron sulfide'), and along with this, her intuition coming to the fore when she realizes the meaning of Lecter's 'simplicity' clue (and then has her revelation regarding what Jame Gumb is up to with the suit of skin), indicate that over the time period from the film's beginning to its ending, she is 'converted' from an introverted feeling type to an introverted intuitive type. We're never shown her having a very significant sensation function.

Above left: Starling cries after her first interview of Lecter. Above right: A few moments later she has a flashback to her childhood, in which she sees herself jumping into her father's arms upon his arrival home from work.

Lecter helps Starling develop her intuition and thinking, not only to make her a more effective FBI agent, but also, since he desires to become Mercurius, he must convert Starling to his Jungian opposite prior to 'fusing' with her. Starling is to provide Lecter with the psychological components that are weaker within him, including feeling.

a. Wikipedia, 'Psychological Types'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Jung, C.G. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 13. Princeton University Press, 1967. p. 237.


Hannibal analysis - part 8: Lecter desires to become Mercurius


One of Lecter's goals is to become Mercurius, whom Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung said, "consists of all conceivable opposites". Lecter's becoming Mercurius is a process which includes 'assimilating' the good (represented by Starling) to complement his evil, and Starling's feminine to complement his masculine. Lecter is, in a sense, trying to 'fuse' Starling to himself.

Here's some information on the nature of Mercurius from Jung's Alchemical Studies:

"The multiple aspects of Mercurius may be summarized as follows:
(1) Mercurius consists of all conceivable opposites. He is thus quite obviously a duality, but is named a unity in spite of the fact that his innumerable inner contradictions can dramatically fly apart into an equal number of disparate and apparently independent figures.
(2) He is both material and spiritual.
(3) He is the process by which the lower and material is transformed into the higher and spiritual, and vice versa.
(4) He is the devil, a redeeming psychopomp, an evasive trickster, and God's reflection in physical nature.
(5) He is also the reflection of a mystical experience of [the alchemist] that coincides with the opus alchymicum.
(6) As such, he represents on the one hand the Self and on the other the individuation process and, because of the limitless number of his names, also the collective unconscious." [a]

a. Jung, C.G. "The Spirit Mercurius" in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 13. Princeton University Press, 1967. p. 237.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 38: Depiction of the nigredo


Top left: From The Silence of the Lambs: Pandemonium on Lecter's cell block after the Miggs 'incident' (one of the prisoners on the block, Miggs, had thrown some of his semen onto Starling's face). Top right: Starling's moment of despair following the incident. Above left: From Hannibal: Chaos during the attempted drug bust at the beginning of the movie. Above right: Shortly afterwards: Starling cries due to having killed a woman during the aborted bust.

Each of the two left-to-right photo sequences above depicts the representation of an alchemical nigredo for Clarice Starling; recall that the nigredo is the first stage of alchemy's Great Work, and is characterized by chaos and melancholia.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 37: The 'disorder' of the individuation process


There is some material in Carl Jung's The Psychology of the Transference that we can apply to this analysis:

"The time-sequence of phases in the opus is very uncertain. We see the same uncertainty in the individuation process, so that a typical sequence of stages can only be constructed in very general terms. The deeper reason for this 'disorder' is probably the 'timeless' quality of the unconscious..."[a]

The indefiniteness in the time sequence of the process of individuation explains the fact that in the chronology of The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling encounters her shadow (Catherine Martin) after experiencing some of her animus figures; for encounters with animus figures are generally taken to follow the encounter with the shadow. In terms of the alchemical opus, Starling's nigredo (the opus's first stage) has not been completed prior to her experiencing part of her albedo (the second stage).

a. Jung, C.G. The Psychology of the Transference. New York: Bollingen Foundation, 1966. p. 96n.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 36: Alchemy's 'Great Work'


The Alchymist, In Search of the Philosophers' Stone by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1771. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Alchemy' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

In part 35 of the analysis we observed that one of Hannibal Lecter's goals is to become Mercurius. According to Carl Jung, alchemists equated Mercurius with the philosopher's stone, which was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. The discovery of the philosopher's stone was known as the Great Work.[a]

The Great Work (Latin: Magnum opus) is a term which refers to the successful completion of the transmutation of base matter into gold or, as indicated above, the discovery of the philosopher's stone. It has subsequently been used as a metaphor for spiritual transformation in the Hermetic tradition. It originally had four stages:

1. nigredo (-putrefactio), blackening(-putrefaction): corruption, dissolution
2. albedo, whitening: purification, burnout of impurity; the moon, female
3. citrinitas, yellowing: spiritualization, enlightenment; the sun, male
4. rubedo, reddening: unification of man with god, unification of the limited with the unlimited

After the 15th century, many writers tended to compress citrinitas into rubedo and consider only three stages. However, it is in citrinitas that the chemical wedding takes place, generating the Philosophical Mercury without which the philosopher's stone, triumph of the Work, could never be accomplished.[b]

In the framework of psychological development (especially for followers of Jungian psychology) these four alchemical steps are be taken as analogous to the process of attaining individuation.[c] Let us examine the four steps in greater detail.

1. Nigredo, or blackness, in alchemy means putrefaction or decomposition. The alchemists believed that as a first step in the pathway to the philosopher's stone all alchemical ingredients had to be cleansed and cooked extensively to a uniform black matter. In psychology, Carl Jung (a student of alchemy) interpreted nigredo as a moment of maximum despair, that is a prerequisite to personal development. The nigredo is also associated with chaos, melancholia, and the encounter with the psychological shadow.[d]

2. Albedo - following the harrowing, chaotic nigredo, it is necessary for purification provided by the albedo which is literally referred to as ablutio; the washing away of impurities by aqua vitae. Jung equated the albedo with unconscious contrasexual soul images; the anima in men and animus in women. It is a phase where insight into shadow projections are realized, and inflated ego and unneeded conceptualizations are removed from the psyche.[e]

3. Citrinitas literally referred to "transmutation of silver into gold" or "yellowing of the lunar consciousness", and in alchemical philosophy stood for the dawning of the "solar light" inherent in one's being, and that the reflective "lunar or soul light" was no longer necessary. In Jungian terms, citrinitas is the wise old man (or woman) archetype.[f]

4. Rubedo is a Latin word meaning "redness." In an archetypal schema, rubedo would represent the Self archetype, and would be the culmination of the four stages. The Self manifests itself in "wholeness," a point in which a person discovers his or her true nature.[g]

We will soon see how the topic of alchemy applies to the Hannibal Lecter movies.

a. Wikipedia, 'Philosopher's stone'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Magnum opus (alchemy)'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. Ibid.
d. Wikipedia, 'Nigredo'. Web, n.d. URL =
e. Wikipedia, 'Albedo (alchemy)'. Web, n.d. URL =
f. Wikipedia, 'Citrinitas'. Web, n.d. URL =
g. Wikipedia, 'Rubedo'. Web, n.d. URL =


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 35: Lecter desires to become Mercurius


Lecter poses as 'Dr. Fell' in Hannibal.

One of Lecter's goals is to become Mercurius, whom Jung said "consists of all conceivable opposites" (see below). Lecter's becoming Mercurius is a process which includes 'assimilating' the good (represented by Starling) to complement his evil, and Starling's feminine to complement his masculine. Lecter is, in a sense, trying to 'fuse' Starling to himself. The below material is taken from "The Spirit Mercurius" in Jung's Alchemical Studies:

"The multiple aspects of Mercurius may be summarized as follows:
(1) Mercurius consists of all conceivable opposites. He is thus quite obviously a duality, but is named a unity in spite of the fact that his innumerable inner contradictions can dramatically fly apart into an equal number of disparate and apparently independent figures.
(2) He is both material and spiritual.
(3) He is the process by which the lower and material is transformed into the higher and spiritual, and vice versa.
(4) He is the devil, a redeeming psychopomp, an evasive trickster, and God's reflection in physical nature.
(5) He is also the reflection of a mystical experience of [the alchemist] that coincides with the opus alchymicum.
(6) As such, he represents on the one hand the self and on the other the individuation process and, because of the limitless number of his names, also the collective unconscious."[a]

a. Jung, C.G. "The Spirit Mercurius" in The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 13. Princeton University Press, 1967. p. 237.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Hannibal analysis - part 7: The hidden plot: Mason Verger is being set up



Above left: Cordell Doemling (dressed in white), Mason Verger's doctor and caretaker, doesn't want to leave Starling alone with Mason when she arrives for her interview of him. When Mason says, "Cordell, I think you can leave us now", Cordell responds, "I, uh, thought I might stay - perhaps I could be useful." Above right: Verger responds to this by saying, "You could be useful by seeing about my lunch", at which point Cordell reluctantly leaves the area.

There is a hidden plot in Hannibal whereby Cordell Doemling is secretly helping Hannibal Lecter with his plan to do away with Verger; this is true in spite of the fact that it appears to be the other way around, that is, that Doemling is helping Verger with his plan to torture and kill Lecter (by having him eaten alive by wild boars). Referring to the above screencaps, one inidication we have that Cordell is deceiving Verger is that he is very hesitant about leaving Verger alone with Starling during Starling's interview of him - it's as if Cordell doesn't want to be out of hearing range of anything that might be said between the two of them, in turn suggesting that it is his task to report to someone (i.e., Lecter) on this.


Top left: A van driven by Cordell and carrying Mason Verger, arrives at the building on the Verger grounds in which some specially-bred boars are being kept, so that Verger can exact his revenge on Lecter. Top right: While Cordell is pushing Verger's wheelchair from the van toward the boar pen, a gunshot goes off, and Verger says, "What was that?!" Cordell has a slightly worried expression on his face, but he doesn't hesitate or say anything, and instead keeps pushing the chair toward the boar pen in which Lecter is supposedly going to be eaten alive. However, as indicated above, Cordell is working for Lecter, and he knows that the actual plan is to get Verger killed here at the pen; and Cordell knows that he himself is to be left unharmed, per his prearranged plan with Hannibal. Above left: Lecter (on left, wearing mask), here having been wheeled into the pen by one of his captors, makes a comment on how bad the man smells, in an attempt to get the man to untie him and start a fight. The plan is for Lecter to obtain a gun at the scene from one of Verger's henchmen, and then shoot Verger when he arrives at the pen, but this part of the plan doesn't work out, as the captor Lecter taunts is somehow able to keep his cool. Above right: The wooden slats forming the walls of the boar enclosure are starting to weaken, and the boars are about to burst into the pen. This happenstance would be unexpected by both parties: Lecter is not expecting the boars to be in the pen at any point, and Verger's own plan is that once Lecter is in the pen alone, with Verger watching from outside it, to let the boars into the pen in a controlled fashion, by opening a gate connecting the enclosure with the pen.


The gunshot Mason heard while being pushed by Cordell in his wheelchair, was due to a gunfight taking place between Clarice Starling (who has arrived on the scene unbeknownst to Cordell and Mason), and Lecter's two captors in the pen, who she eventually overcomes. Due to being shot by a third henchman who had been hiding in the loft above the pen, Starling falls backwards and drops her gun (top left). Hannibal, who has now untied himself (with Starling's help, prior to her being shot), pockets her gun. He then picks her up so that the boars, who have now crashed through the enclosure walls (top right), will not go after her. Lecter hid from Cordell that Clarice was to be a part of his plan here, for otherwise, Cordell would be worried that Starling, not knowing that he is working with Lecter, might try to shoot him. And, of course, Lecter could not tell Clarice ahead of time that Cordell was working with him. The two henchmen who were shot by Starling in the pen, end up being eaten by the boars (above left). Once Cordell and Mason have arrived and are at a location overlooking the pen (above right), Mason sees what's going on, and he tells Cordell to go into the pen and get one of his men's guns, which is lying on the ground, and to go after Lecter. Lecter can't shoot Mason with the gun in his pocket, because he needs both hands to protect Starling from the boars. Cordell refuses to go in the pen out of fear of the boars, and Lecter's suggestion that he throw Mason into the pen, is completely new to him, i.e., it is not part of the prearranged plan.


Above left: After Lecter makes a statement to Cordell implying that he can say Lecter is the one who pushed Mason into the pen, Cordell throws Mason into the pen. Above right: Lecter leaves carrying a wounded Starling.

All of the above is tied in with what was said in part 5, about Lecter being intentionally 'caught' at Union Station - the reason Lecter allows himself to be taken captive there, is so that he can carry out his planned action at the pen (though as described above, things do not go exactly according to plan; Lecter nevertheless gets the upper hand).


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 34: Clarice Starling's initiatory process


In The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling effectively goes through a process of initiation during the movie, which can be broken down into three phases, each corresponding to a certain event: the first is Starling's first interview of Hannibal Lecter (top left screencap); the second is the autopsy in West Virginia (top right); and the third is the confrontation with Jame Gumb (above left). These are Clarice's three initiatory events on her way to becoming fully accepted by the FBI. This acceptance is signified by her receiving her badge, during the graduation ceremony at the movie's ending (above right).


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 33: Symbolism of the fly


Lecter converses with Starling on the phone at the end of The Silence of the Lambs. The black speck near the left side of Lecter's forehead is the infamous fly (click image to enlarge).

To determine why it is that Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme, decided to leave the 'fly' in the final scene (the insect coincidentally alights on the side of Anthony Hopkins' head at the end of the movie - see the screen capture above), instead of re-shooting the scene without the fly present, it is useful to consult the Dictionary of Symbols:

"Their ceaseless buzzing, whirling around and stinging make flies unbearable. They breed from corruption and decay, carry the germs of the foulest diseases and breach all defences against them. They symbolize a ceaseless quest. It was in this sense that an ancient Syrian deity, Beelzebub, whose name meant 'Lord of the Flies', became 'Prince of Demons'."[a]

As stated back in part 22 of this analysis, the name Hannibal suggests Baal, who is sometimes seen as a demon in Christianity. Christian writings referred to Ba'al Zebûb as a demon or devil, often interchanged with Beelzebub.

a. Dictionary of Symbols. Ed. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, Trans. John Buchanan-Brown. London: Penguin Group, 1996. pp. 396, 397.


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