Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hannibal Rising analysis - part 8: The reasons why Hannibal becomes a cannibal


In this post, we explore the issue of why it is that Hannibal Lecter becomes a cannibal.

1) In the bible, in 1 Corinthians 12, it is said that the members of the church are like the parts of Jesus' body (1 Cor. 12:27 says, "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." [New International Version]). Regarding transubstantiation, the Gospel of John describes Jesus speaking to a crowd of Jews on how one can attain eternal life by partaking of his (Jesus') body and blood. Below is quoted John 6:51-56 [New International Version]:

51. [Jesus said,] "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." 52. Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him."

In accordance with the above, we realize that part of the reason Lecter is a cannibal, is because he wants to symbolically partake of Jesus' body and blood, by eating people (the members of the church), in order to become immortal.

2) In Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung's The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, there are listed five forms of rebirth, the fifth of which Jung calls "Participation in the process of transformation: [This is] indirect rebirth. Here the transformation is brought about not directly, by passing through death and rebirth oneself, but indirectly, by participating in a process of transformation which is conceived of as taking place outside the individual...This rite may be a ceremony such as the Mass, where there is a transformation of substances."[a] Mass is the Eucharistic celebration of the Roman Catholic Church. The basic idea is that in partaking of Jesus' blood and body, via cannibalizing people, Lecter wants to experience rebirth. Rebirth will then enable Lecter to 'see the kingdom of God', for in John verse 3:3, Jesus says to Nicodemus, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." [New International Version]

a. Jung, C. G. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 9, Part 1. Princeton University Press, 1969. para. 205.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hannibal Rising analysis - part 7: Sword symbolism


Antique Japanese (samurai) katana, Metropolitan Museum of Art. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Katana' page; Antique japanese katana by Emmanuel H., licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.]

There is a graphic scene in the movie in which Hannibal uses a katana sword to cut off a man's (i.e., the butcher's) head. In this post we will explore sword symbolism, but first, a description of the kantana is in order.

Historically, katana were one of the traditionally made Japanese swords that were used by the samurai of feudal Japan. Modern versions of the katana are sometimes made using non-traditional materials and methods. The katana is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, slender, single-edged blade with a circular or squared guard and long grip to accommodate two hands.[a]

Above left: Hannibal holding the katana that he has just used to kill the butcher. Above right: Late in the movie, Hannibal carries a tanto, which has here been damaged by a bullet fired at him by Grutas.

The sword is considered to be a phallic symbol. In this respect, we can connect the 'evolution' throughout the movie of the 'physique' of Hannibal's sword, symbolizing his penis, with Jews who have deformed genitals due to suffering from congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a medical condition which also causes these Jews to be evil. Early in the movie, Hannibal uses a katana, which is curved. This symbolizes the curved penises of these Jews, some of whom suffer from chordee, a medical condition in which a man's penis is curved upward or downward at the junction of the head with the shaft of the penis.

By the end of our movie, Hannibal has been 'reduced' to using a tanto, a kind of short sword. This symbolizes the reduction in masculinity of the aforementioned evil Jews, reflecting their evil hermaphroditic qualities, which is not only a mix of feminine and masculine physical aspects, but a combined male/female evil as well.

Hannibal's tanto has been concealed by him underneath the jacket he is wearing, between his back and the jacket, when he boards Grutas's houseboat near the end of the movie. When Grutas fires a gunshot at Hannibal's back, Hannibal is protected by the tanto from being wounded or killed by the bullet. Hannibal's tanto itself represents the same sword he started out with (the katana he used to sever the butcher's head), but in a reduced form, as already noted. The final insult to Hannibal's metaphorical phallus is that the bullet which struck the tanto caused damage to it which is irregular and asymmetrical in form (as shown in the above right screencap). This symbolizes an irregular, asymmetrically placed urethral opening, indicating still further the deformed genitals of the evil hermaphroditic Jews (these are the specific evil Jews that Hannibal Lecter represents).

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


1) In certain instances it has been determined that the creators of some of the productions analyzed on this blog, and/or the creators of source material(s) used in the making of these productions, may be making negative statements about certain segments of society in their productions. These statements should be taken as expressing the opinions of no one other than the creators.

2) This blog is not associated with any of the studios, creators, authors, publishers, directors, actors, musicians, writers, editors, crew, staff, agents, or any other persons or entities involved at any stage in the making of any of the media productions or source materials that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced herein.

3) In keeping with the policies of the filmmakers, authors, studios, writers, publishers, and musicians, that have created the productions (and their source materials) that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced on this blog, any similarity of the characters in these films or source materials to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


All images on this blog are used solely for non-commercial purposes of analysis, review, and critique.

All Wikipedia content on this blog, and any edits made to it, are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations - from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Augustine's Confessions and City of God from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica from the 'Logos Virtual Library' website (except where otherwise noted), compiled and edited by Darren L. Slider; believed to be in public domain.