Good morning from Upstate NY,
The days are getting shorter, but we’re enjoying beautiful weather with temperatures near 70 degrees this week. When I’m not outside and taking advantage of the sun, I’m busy writing the first two novels in my new Wolf Lake thriller series.
Question: Did you ever notice Hannibal Lecter never blinked during Silence of the Lambs? I discovered this interesting interview with Anthony Hopkins on YouTube and thought you’d enjoy it. For those of us old enough to remember The Dick Cavett show, this a fun piece of nostalgia.
What’s your favorite Hannibal characteristic or mannerism?
The Unblinking: A Theoretical Dive into Hannibal Lecter’s Haunting Stillness
It’s difficult to forget the piercing gaze of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the infamous cannibalistic psychiatrist brought to life by Sir Anthony Hopkins in “The Silence of the Lambs.” While the movie is filled with haunting dialogues and tense encounters, one detail that seems to escape casual observation is Lecter’s eerie stillness, particularly his unblinking eyes. What if Hannibal Lecter never actually blinks when on camera? Let’s embark on a theoretical exploration of this subtle, yet captivating feature, and what it might reveal about the character’s psychological complexity.
The Theory: Why No Blink?
Before diving into the symbolism, let’s get one thing straight: not blinking for extended periods is biologically unsettling. The act of blinking serves vital functions, like lubricating the eye and offering mental rest intervals. A lack of it gives an uncanny impression, as it deviates from normal human behavior.
If we consider the theory that Lecter never blinks when on camera, it aligns well with his character’s overall unsettling presence. The act, or rather the non-act, of not blinking serves as a quiet yet alarming display of his exceptional self-control and almost superhuman qualities.
The Psychology of Stillness
In psychology, stillness and unwavering eye contact are often considered signs of confidence and assertiveness. In the case of Hannibal Lecter, this stillness transcends normal human behavior and enters the realm of the surreal. It accentuates his predatory nature, as predators often fixate on their prey with unwavering focus. By never blinking, he maintains psychological domination over those he interacts with, including the audience.
Breaking Down the Fourth Wall
This unblinking gaze isn’t just confined to the characters within the story; it extends to the audience as well. The effect is an uncomfortable intimacy that simultaneously draws us in while pushing us away. It’s as if Lecter’s gaze breaks the fourth wall, implicating us in his twisted world.
The unblinking gaze could also serve as a meta-cinematic commentary. Movies themselves are unblinking eyes that observe the characters within. Hannibal, by not blinking, mimics this feature of cinema, making him a creature not just within the film but of the film itself. This adds another layer of discomfort and uncanny valley to his character.
The theory that Hannibal Lecter never blinks when on camera is more than just a creepy detail; it’s a narrative device that transforms him into an entity that transcends conventional character boundaries. It adds a layer of tension and discomfort both within the movie’s universe and beyond it, directly affecting the audience’s psyche. While this theoretical detail might not be overt, its potential implications create a ripple effect that contributes to the film’s enduring impact and Lecter’s position as one of the most chilling characters in cinematic history.
Anthony Hopkins’ Take
Anthony Hopkins, the actor who brought Hannibal Lecter to life, is well-known for his intense preparations and deep dives into character. Hopkins has been quoted saying, “I’m one of those people who, when I commit to something, I commit 100%.” His commitment to the character and the subtleties that he added, such as the unblinking gaze, shows his unparalleled dedication. While there are no specific quotes about Hopkins purposely avoiding blinking while playing Lecter, his overall philosophy towards acting suggests that if he did it, it was likely a conscious choice to add an unsettling element to his portrayal.
Not Just a Detail, But a Statement
If we were to assume that the “no blinking” aspect was an intentional choice by Hopkins, it would serve as another testament to his genius and meticulous craft. “I felt that if I didn’t get that role, I’d never do another role like it,” he once mentioned about playing Lecter. The absence of blinking would be more than just a spooky character detail; it would be a layered statement about Lecter’s nature and how that mirrors society’s own perverse fascination with the abnormal and the monstrous. It would be a form of body language, suggesting that Lecter is a character so in control of himself that he can even conquer involuntary bodily functions to maintain a façade of calmness and to ratchet up tension.
Paving the Way for a Deeper Understanding
In the years since “The Silence of the Lambs,” audiences and critics have returned to the film time and time again, each time finding new elements that make it a masterpiece of psychological horror. Hopkins’ portrayal of Lecter is the film’s cornerstone, and hypothetical details like him not blinking would add yet another layer to study and analyze. “Once you begin to explain, you’re screwed,” Hopkins once said about not wanting to over-explain his characters. But even without explicit explanations, the depth he brought to the character provides endless material for audiences to theorize, analyze, and discuss, keeping the character alive in the public psyche for years to come.
By dissecting even the minutest aspects of Hannibal Lecter’s character, we’re not only paying homage to a role brilliantly executed but also finding new ways to understand the multi-faceted dimensions of one of cinema’s most haunting figures.
Her Last Breath
I got the cover art back for Her Last Breath, the first book in my new Wolf Lake thriller series, and it blew me away. I love the colors and atmosphere my designer conveyed. Caroline Teagle Johnson, who also designed the Darkwater Cove series covers, is an amazing talent.
The release date is December 9, and I can’t wait for you to read Her Last Breath.
I’d better get back to writing. Please drop me a line anytime you have a question. 🙂
Have a great day, and thank you for reading.