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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hannibal Rising - /* we eat or we die */

The new chapter in the Hannibal Lecter series takes us back to 1944 Lithuania during the time of the second world war. The family is fleeing Lecter castle, taking their treasures and their livelihoods with them to a household in the country. It is a matter of conjecture if they have more to fear from Russian looters rampant in the countryside, or the arrival of the German troops and tanks.

Hannibal and his very little sister Mischa watch their parents die at the hands of German bullets and are left to fend for themselves in the house. Looters find the two and hold them captive as they dine with them throughout the brual winter of starvation. His sensitive impressionable mind is very shocked by what fury men will do to survive. He eventually is saved and eight years later finds himself in a school setup in his old home at the castle.

Hannibal henceforth lives in a closed emotional state, his mouth is closeknit during the day only to let out yells at night due to his nightmares reliving the moments of that winter, trying to forget yet remember what happened. His only physical connection to his parents and relatives are photographs of the past.

He escapes from the school - after sneaking rides aboard trains across borders and finds himself at his uncle's place. The uncle has passed on but his Japanese "aunt" [ Gong Li ] raises him in a state of grace at the estate near France and teaches him refinement. She endeavours for Hannibal to be gentle and kind like his father. He reads and she teaches him the art of Japanese kendo and swords. She prays before her god, who is dressed as a mighty Japanese warrior with the mask that has become the trademark of the Hannibal Lecter visage. His aunt who hails from Hiroshima connects with Hannibal, not just because the both of them are outsiders, but because they both have their lives scream back at them at night.

Hannibal Rising is a story well told with a sense of style and muted colours. It's the tale of revenge best served cold. The thrill of the chase by the French police is not on the par of Clarice sparring with Hannibal Lecter, and can one side with Hannibal as he pursues his quest? but Hannibal Rising is american psycho reborn and purviews the character and moral development of the child who died in that winter, and came out the other side a monster.

Fish cheeks anyone?

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