04th May2015

‘The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series’ Book Review

by Paul Metcalf


When Hannibal was announced as a new television show nobody could have guessed what a success it would become, most worried that it would take their much-loved character and do evil remake things to him.  All worry faded with the introduction of Hannibal as portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, his portrayal brought us a new Hannibal who could sit with price next to Anthony Hopkins’ version.  To create this success though it wasn’t just down to Mikkelsen, but also a hell of a lot of work that went on behind the scenes to create the show.  We get a glimpse into what it took to create the show in Jesse McClean’s new book The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series.

The show is a successful merging of psychological horror, plenty of gore and more than a generous helping of culinary obsession.  It comes as no surprise that The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series would have that same connection to Hannibal’s love of food.  In fact the book is separated into different courses (Aperitif, Entrée, Main Course, Sorbet, Dessert, Digestif) looking at the creation, the progress of making it and post production of the show and what Brian Fuller had to do to form his show from Thomas Harris’ books and the movies that were created from them.  This was not an easy task, especially when actors had taken the role of Hannibal Lecter and made the role theirs.  Anthony Hopkins and his Academy Award winning portrayal is not an easy shadow to escape from.

Fans of Mads Mikkelsen will like the focus that the book puts on him and how he worked to create his own interpretation of the doctor.  We sometimes forget that his character is the same we see in Silence of the Lambs, as both he and Anthony Hopkins are so perfect in the role, but Mikkelsen managed to dispel any battle our minds had when accepting yet another Hannibal.

Featuring comments from not only Mikkelsen but also Fuller and others who helped create the vision of Hannibal that we see fully formed in the show we get an idea of what they wanted to create with their version of Lecter and what their limitations were.  To read Mikkelsen’s comments on Hannibal’s wardrobe and set design is interesting, especially to fully understand just how much work it goes into making the character so good.

As well as Lecter the book looks at other important characters to the series, including ones that aren’t seen as the main cast.  People like Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza), Margot and Mason Verger (Katharine Isabelle and Michael Pitt), Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) and of course Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) are all included.  There are a few that are omitted and do stand out as being missing, but I guess not all can make it into the book.

One thing that I do have to warn some readers about is something that feels obvious when it comes to Hannibal and that is the level of gore on show on the pages.  The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series does not flinch away from the detail when it comes to the killings in the show, and why should it? Jesse McClean gives us an insight into just how much work goes into creating these elaborate scenes and there is a focus in the pictures shown to highlight just how beautiful the work is.  Want a better view of Mason Verger’s face in the infamous scene where he feeds his face to the dogs? It is shown in the book, and we are given details into just what work had to be done to make it so good on-screen.

Hannibal is a stylish show, and in a book like The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series really should be the same (and it is).  With plenty of pictures showing the “art” of Hannibal this is a must have for fans, especially the ones who want to see a more close up analysis of the gore that the show is so famous for.  Jesse McClean creates a book that is easy to read, informative and most importantly focused on just what the fans want to know about their favourite series and its stars.  You won’t find any clues in here as to what is to come in future seasons of Hannibal, but for what we’ve already seen there is plenty to be found in these pages and I as a fan of the cannibal doctor loved every page of it.

The Art and Making of Hannibal the Television Series by Jesse McClean is available in the UK from May 8th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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