Lambs and Dragons.

I recently discussed trilogies. I looked at trilogies I hadn’t seen, hadn’t completed or did not enjoy. Now, it’s about time I discussed my favourite trilogy. Now I should also stress that there are several trilogies that were competing for top spot. I’ve always been a sucker for Raimi’s Spider-Man films and Lucas’s first three Star Wars instalments. Craven’s original Scream trilogy were all enjoyable, although the follow-ups were always going to be a disappointment in comparison to the first. I love the Die-Hard trilogy along with theTerminator series and of course Spielberg’s Indiana Jones franchise. The most modern trilogy that I thoroughly enjoyed was the Bourne trilogy. Interestingly, all of the last five series mentioned have had fourth instalments made in the last five years.

The series that narrowly missed out on the number one spot was, sadly, Toy Story. It was a difficult decision as this is a series that is not only one of my my favourite series, but it is undoubtedly one of the greatest movie trilogies of all time. All three instalments are consistent and it never feels, to me, that the series is let down at any point. As you may have noticed, many of my favourite trilogies are guilty pleasures. They contain some very poor film making and some very weak acting. However, Toy Story is the exception; a triumphant trilogy that has defined modern-day movie animation.

However, it’s time to turn my focus to my favourite trilogy. The trilogy I have watched the most and enjoyed the most. A trilogy that is beautifully disjointed and is brought together by one terrifying character. Many of you may be thinking…Jaws? No. Jaws 3-D is without a doubt one of the worst films I have ever seen. Although, the main character in my favourite trilogy is by no means any less bloody thirsty than ‘Jaws the Shark’.

It is, in fact, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Red Dragon; three films that absorb you into the chilling world of Doctor Hannibal Lecter. The first in the trilogy stands alone as a horrifyingly beautiful piece of cinema but the second two instalments combine perfectly to mould the story. The most admirable thing about this trilogy is that not one character is ruined as time progresses. With Hopkins re-appearing in both Hannibal and Red Dragon,our protagonist remains equally scary despite the changes in scenario, time and characters around him. We follow different actors and actresses hunting down different murderers and villains throughout the three films. However, Hopkins’s position within each keeps the series rooted and respectable.

Ted Levine in Silence of the Lambs (1991) as the twisted killer, ‘Buffalo Bill’.

Now, by no means are Hannibal and Red Dragon as flawless or admirable pieces of work as their predecessor. Ridley Scott’s Hannibal lacks a lot of the genius and insight that we see in so many of his other films. I enjoy the series because of its slight messiness. This trilogy has some very rough edges but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any substance. Yes, we see characters become a little less complex and a little more caricatured, especially inHannibal, but the eerie seduction of Doctor Lecter looms over every film, no matter how much worse the script has become. What I like a lot about this trilogy is that every film has a very different style to the previous. Hannibal becomes darker and more serious than the first and Red Dragon always feels like more of a thriller than the first. In my opinion,Silence of the Lambs is a psychological thriller, Hannibal is an action/horror and Red Dragon is an action/thriller.

Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

One improvement that was made in the second film was the introduction of Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling. Jodie Foster, apparently too haunted by the first film, refused to play the character again. Personally, I feel Moore was a great improvement. She displays a harder and more developed Starling who is facing difficulty in her job. For me, Foster was too timid and a little flat in her portrayal of this inspiring FBI trainee. The connection between Lecter and Starling felt too forced when Foster was in the role as Starling; with Moore, it felt right. I am aware that many will disagree with me and claim that Foster’s portrayal is more iconic and memorable. For me, it was just a little annoying and unconvincing.

Red Dragon sees the storyline recede as we witness the reason that Lecter originally went to prison. Edward Norton plays our lead detective here, rather successfully. Norton and Hopkins have a chemistry that works well and helps to connect the third film to the first two. This prequel also displays a staggering performance from Ralph Fiennes. His mysterious and troubled villain is reminiscent of Levine’s character in the first film. As the film closes we find ourselves at the beginning of The Silence of the Lambs. Perhaps this looped ending makes the trilogy more fluid and intertwined than other trilogies. It is not a perfect trilogy. There is no such thing. However, this trilogy is my favourite. It is exciting, creepy and thrilling throughout. We see development and enjoy twists and turns along the way. Characters grow and characters change. Maybe I’m overlooking some really rather dismal moments in the three films but hey, I told you it was a guilty pleasure. I may not be referring to three masterpieces, but at least I didn’t choose Pirates of the Caribbean.

Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.

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