February 6th, 2014

b5 delenn

Meme Day 3

Day 3 - Your favorite new show (aired this tv season)

Cool!  Read the meme wrong!  So yeah, this show aired last season, whatever.  Maybe I'll do another picspam for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which is my favorite new show from this season, at some other point.

But today we're talking about Hannibal!  Not just my favorite new show, but as far as I'm concerned, the best show on TV right now.  If you're at all familiar with the Hannibal Lecter mythos, you know that a story about him is going to be dark, depraved and gruesome.  So it may come as a surprise to hear that Hannibal is arguably the most beautiful show at least currently airing, perhaps ever.

That's quite a claim, I know.  I have never seen such detail in production design, from the regular sets to location shots; the costuming is absurdly gorgeous; don't even get me started on the cinematography!  I have watched many a feature film with not even close to this amount of attention paid to shot selection, framing, color grading, lighting, etc.  For instance, Hannibal is often backlit, which causes a sort of angelic glow around him (also known as Rembrandt lighting).  It softens the edges of his silhouette, giving him a slightly-otherworldly appearance.  But he's often backlit without any kind of key light or fill light.  His facial features end up obscured, his expression ambiguous, his eyes dark and unable to be read.  The effect is to dehumanize him, but in both positive and negative ways - he is beautiful, and he is terrible.  Subconsciously, the viewer is both attracted and repelled.  Is there any better way to depict a character like Hannibal Lecter?

I could go on and on about how absolutely perfect this show is.  Actually, I will go on a little bit more.  Many wonderful, complex female characters - who are all different from one another.  I think a lot of shows have heard about having "strong female characters," so they write a couple iterations of the same 2D female character who is played by a physical waif but is shown beating people up.  Not so on Hannibal.  Bryan Fuller even took a male character from the books and made her a woman to make the gender balance more even.  (Speaking of Bryan Fuller's awesomeness: he has vowed to never have a rape storyline.  Ever.)  It's also a very smart show.  They will cut from A to D or sometimes even, like, F, and trust the audience to figure out the steps in between; after years and years of police procedurals, we know how these stories work.  So Hannibal cuts out all that stuff and concentrates on everything else: what kind of toll does investigating these kinds of crimes take on people?  In the very first episode, Will Graham must make a snap judgment in an incredibly difficult and tense situation.  He deals with that decision and its after-effects for the entire rest of the season.  It's not just glossed over, and it's certainly not glamorized.  As over-the-top as some of the murders and staging can be, there's a huge amount of attention paid to the psychology of murder.  Which makes sense, considering the title character...

As for Dr. Lector, what I found perhaps most astonishing is how well Hannibal was able to take a character who was so well-entrenched in the public consciousness, to the point that he wasn't even really scary anymore (who among us hasn't made the fava beans and chianti joke?), and make him so completely brand-new.  And yet still the Hannibal Lecter we all have come to know so well.  It's a testament not just to the writing, but most especially to Mads Mikkelsen, who is able to do so much just by the tiniest quirk of the corner of his mouth, just a slight tilt to his head, just a knowing look in the background of a shot as other characters speak.  He is, quite simply, a revelation.

I am going to put my picspam behind a cut, however, because I know Hannibal isn't for everyone.  It is an extremely dark and violent show.  I've selected a few compositions that I find incredibly beautiful, but they are disturbing, and I don't want to upset anyone who doesn't care for that sort of thing.

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Day 3 - An unamused gif