Manhunter is an absolutely fantastic film full stop - the only niggle is that every time it's released (in the UK at least) it always turns out to be a slightly different version of the film. The video was a different cut to the first DVD which is a different cut to the two on here, although at least one of these now claims to be the definitive director's cut. Strangely in these later cuts Michael Mann has removed once and for all a 30 second sequence where Will Graham expresses a great sympathy for the Tooth Fairy on one level before declaring that the Tooth Fairy should be executed as soon as possible. It's a strange cut because the rest of that scene is left completely intact - he's just removed 3 lines of dialogue from the middle. As an aside, for fans of the soundtrack 2 of the 3 previously hard to find Shriekback songs used in the film are now readily available on the CD Oil & Gold.
on 15 February 2005
The opening sequence keeps me awake at night, years on from watching this film from Michael Mann. Understated, and very, very believable, it taps into our worst fears about our home being invade by a psycopathic killer in the dead of night.
What was that creaking noise? Was it the wind, or - should I get up and go and have a look? If you are of a nervous disposition, best get something else as this is about the creepiest cop hunts killer film ever, in my humble opinion.
Of course, Mr Mann is a genius, so what do you expect.
My advice, 1. watch the film, and 2. never read reviews, it only spoils the experience by prejudging it.
So why write one? Well I have not mentioned the plot, the acting or the other films of Thomas Harris's books. This one is easily the best in my view, although the Silence of the Lambs was a bit good too.
on 15 September 2001
First of all: Accept no imitations - Manhunter will always be the definitive Hannibal Lecter movie, even if they do decide to 're-make' the film under the original title of 'Red Dragon', which has been widely rumoured for many months now.
After the disappointing original UK DVD release of Manhunter from BMG, and the ambitious, but ultimately flawed Region 1 editions from Anchor Bay, this new release is the definitive edition of the film to own.
Momentum have wisely decided to avoid using the obscure Director's Cut of the film and have stuck with what appears to be the original theatrical cut, which is a great start. Whilst some of the extras included here are identical to those found on the USA release, as a bonus you also get a 53 page book about Manhunter and the other Lecter films called 'Michael Mann's Head Games.' Although the book is far from being a 100% definitive guide to the film, it is still the finest companion to this excellent film which has been written to date.
Overall then, this is another highly impressive release from Momentum and one which will satisfy all fans of the work of Michael Mann, Thomas Harris and Hannibal himself! Don't miss it.
on 4 June 2003
Forget if anyone tells you different, the remake of this, Red Dragon, however close to the book it was, is no match for this original version of Tom Harris' book.
Allthough the actors in this might not be as well known as RD's cast, the performances are spot on. Mainly thanks to the fantastic direction from Michael Mann.
Brian Cox is especially brilliant in a small role as the original Hannibal Lecktor and William Petersen is suprisingly good as Will Graham, capturing the emotional vulnerability of the character, again this is thanks to a super script from Mann.
The plot in case you didn't know it is Will Graham (Petersen) is brought back from retirement by FBI boss Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina, another wonderful performance) to hunt down a brutal serial killer known as the "Tooth Fairy" (played with exceptional chillingness by Tom Noonan) however, he is not the man he once was and is forced to consult imprisoned Hannibal Lecktor (Cox) for help in the case.
This disc has been released twice before, but never as good as this, a two-disc version with two cuts of the film, a couple of documentaries and an insightful commentary from Michael Mann.
If you haven't seen this before, I couldn't recommend it enough.
on 11 July 2016
Manhunter has been one of my favourite films (and favourite soundtracks) since I first saw it introduced by Alex Cox in 1991 (when BBC2's Moviedrome was the highlight of the week). It is a brilliant film. But importantly, it is not a horror film. I think fans of Silence of the Lambs and the later execrable Lector films were hoping this would be another horror / slasher film. It isn't; it is one of the best "detective" films ever made. The film is almost like a police procedural - it's how an FBI profiler gets inside the head of a serial killer and then comes across clues which help him to solve the puzzle and lead to him catching his man. It's not a particularly scary or tense film, but for me it is incredibly engaging, as well as being beautifully photographed and directed.
The scene when Graham starts piecing together the evidence and suddenly realizes that the killer has seen the videos he is watching, with Graham's Theme (by Michael Rubini) rising in the background, is one of the best sequences I have ever seen. It never ceases to make the hairs on my neck stand up.
Manhunter is directed by Michael Mann who also adapts the screenplay from the Thomas Harris novel, Red Dragon. It stars William Petersen, Dennis Farina, Tom Noonan, Joan Allen, Kim Greist, Brian Cox and Stephen Lang. Music is by Michel Rubini and The Reds, and cinematography is by Dante Spinotti.
Retired FBI specialist Will Graham is lured back into action to track a serial killer who is killing families, seemingly linked into the lunar cycle. In the process it opens up some old mental wounds that were born out during his last action out in the field........
Before the gargantuan success of Silence of the Lambs, where the name Hannibal the Cannibal moved into pop culture, and before director Michael Mann became a name auteur, often referenced with relish by hungry film students; there was Manhunter, Michael Mann's brilliant adaptation of Thomas Harris' equally brilliant psychological thriller, Red Dragon. It feels a bit redundant now, years later, writing about Mann's use of styles to bear out mood and psychological states, his framing devices, his commitment to his craft, but after revisiting the film on Blu-ray, I find myself once again simultaneously invigorated and unnerved by the magnificence of Manhunter. Visually, thematically and narratively it remains a clinical piece of cinema, a probing study of madness that dares to put a serial killer and the man hunting him in the same psychological body, asking us, as well as William Petersen's FBI agent Will Graham, to empathise with Tom Noonan's troubled Tooth Fairy killer. Here's a thing, too, Francis Dolarhyde (The Tooth Fairy) is a functioning member of society, he is quite frankly a man who could be working in a shop near you! This is no reclusive psychopath such as, well, Buffalo Bill, Dolarhyde is presented to us in such a way as we are given insight into this damaged mind, he is fleshed out as a person, we get to know him and his motivational problems.
Dream much, Will?
Mann and his team are not about over the top or camp performances, gore is kept to a premium, the real horror is shown in aftermath sequences, conversations and harmless photographs, but still it's a nightmarish world. Suspense is wrung out slowly by way of the characterisations. Will has to become the killer, and it's dangerous, he knows so because he has done it before, when capturing Dr. Hannibal Lecktor. Needing to pick up the scent again, to recover the mindset, Will has to go see the good doctor who has a penchant for fine wines and human offal. These scenes showcase Mann at his deadliest, a bright white cell filmed off kilter, each frame switch showing either Lecktor or Graham behind bars, they are one. When Lecktor taunts Will about them being alike, Mann understands this and visually brings it out. Dolarhyde's living abode is murky in colour tones and furnished garishly, and with mirrors, paintings and a lunar landscape, yet when Dolarhyde is accompanied by Joan Allen's blind Reba, where he feels he is finally finding acceptance, this house is seen at ease because of the characterisations. Switch to the finale and it's a walled monstrosity matching that of a killer tipped back over the edge. Brilliant stuff.
If one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is.
Lecktor, soon to be back as the source material Lecter in the film versions that follow, is actually not in the film that much. Brian Cox (chilling, calculating, frightening and intelligent) as Lecktor gets under ten minutes of screen time, but that's enough, the character's presence is felt throughout the picture in a number of ways. The Lecktor angle is very relative to film's success, but very much it's one strand of a compelling whole, I realise now that Mann has deliberately kept us wanting more of him visually. Noonan is truly scary, he lived away from the rest of the cast during filming, with Mann's joyous encouragement, the end result is one of the best and most complex serial killer characterisations ever. Lang scores high as weasel paparazzi, Allen is heart achingly effective without patronising blind people and Farina is a huge presence as Jack Crawford, Will's friend and boss who coaxes Will back into the fray knowing full well that Will's mind might not make it back with him. But it's Petersen's movie all the way. His subsequent non film career has given ammunition to his knockers that he is no great actor. Rubbish, with this and To Live and Die in L.A. he gave two of the best crime film portrayals of the 80s. He immerses himself in Will Graham, so much so he wasn't able to shake the character off long after filming had wrapped. There's a scene in a supermarket where Will is explaining to his son about his dark place, where "the ugliest thoughts in the world" live, a stunning sequence of acting and a showcase for Petersen's undoubted talents.
Newcomers to the film and Mann's work in general, could do no worse than spend the ten minutes it takes to watch the Dante Spinotti feature on the disc. Apart from saving me the time to write about Mann's visual flourishes, it gives one an idea of just how key a director and cinematographer partnership is in a film such as this. The audio is crisp, which keeps alive the perfect in tone soundtrack and eerie scoring strains of Rubini and The Reds. Some say that the music of Manhunter is dated? I say that if it sits at one with the tonal shifts and thematics of a story then that surely can never be viewed as dated. And that's the case here in Manhunter. The director's cut is included as part of the package but the transfer is appalling, and for the sake of one cut scene that happens post the Dolarhyde/Graham face off, there's really not much to the DC version anyway. The theatrical cut is perfect, brilliantly realised on Blu-ray to birth a true visual neo noir masterpiece. 10/10
It was my pleasure to meet Brian Cox a few years ago when he was house-hunting in France;he cleared up an issue over his and Anthony Hopkins respective portrayals of Lecter in Manhunter and The Silence Of The Lambs [DVD] .
The press reported some bitterness and competition between the two over their roles in the different films.
As they shared the same theatrical agent at the time it was a rivalry blown up by the press and not some personal animosity between the two great actors.Brian Cox was never detrimental towards Anthony Hopkins as had been reported.
Back to the review:a terrific film by Michael Mann which first introduced us to Hannibal the Cannibal,a charactor who was to become iconic and part of everyday speech such was his impact.
Mann missed a trick.
Lecter was given much more importance in the novel and later film Red Dragon - 2 disc edition  [DVD]. Here Cox's outstanding performance is all too brief but extremely chilling.Had he (or the Lecter charactor)been given fair screen time the film could have taken off added to the superb role played by Tom Noonan as the 'Tooth Fairy'.
Instead it's a marvellous,meticulous thriller that people compare (favourably or not) with the later Hopkins version.
My own view is that they are equally good,offering different perspectives of the same story.
on 7 April 2016
Will Graham, a former FBI agent who recently retired to Florida. Graham was a 'profiler'; one who profiles criminal's behavior and tries to put his mind into the minds of criminals to examine their thoughts while visiting crime scenes. Will is called out of his self-imposed retirement at the request of his former boss Jack Crawford to help the FBI catch an elusive serial killer, known to the press as the 'Tooth Fairy'. Will has occasional meetings with Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, a charismatic but very dangerous imprisoned serial killer ...
- Inside Manhunter - an excellent featurette in which various cast members recall their contribution to Michael Mann's Manhunter. In English, not subtitled. (18 min)
- The Manhunter's Look - cinematographer Dante Spinotti discusses the unique framing, lighting and use of color seen in Manhunter. In English, not subtitled. (11 min)
'Manhunter' is a product of the marvellous director Michael Mann (Thief, The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Collateral), who applies his usual array of cinematic, artistic and musical application talents to make a film which is my all-time favourite.
It has all the ingredients you could wish for: a stylistic production, excellent acting, realistic characters, a thrilling tempo, mystery, terror, drama, human emotions and (above all) a fantastic accompanying soundtrack.
The film is based on the Thomas Harris book 'Red Dragon' from his Hannibal Lecter series; this story being the 'prequel' to 'The Silence of the Lambs'. The book has more recently been remade into a film with the 'correct' title, but whilst it follows the novel storyline more accurately it does not compare to 'Manhunter' as a cinematic experience...
Dating from the mid-80's, the plot and film are most certainly the stimulus for such programmes as 'Cracker' and 'CSI' (and latterly series like 'Criminal Minds'), due to the forensically detailed nature of the investigation, but especially the criminal psychology aspect depicted superbly by the character Will Graham (it is probably no coincidence that he is played by the subsequently famous star of CSI, William Petersen !).
The way the film shows the tracking down of the serial killer, and the fact that he is revealed to the viewer before the detectives have found him, helps to build a multi-layered storyline as well as being unusual (until copied by the later programmes mentioned above). Although obviously covering extreme violence, the film rarely depicts it in any other way than by implication, description and/or aftermath imagery. This does not detract from the horror theme and, in my opinion, enhances the chilling nature of the subject !
Various matters that I have already alluded to mean that first-time viewers of Manhunter should avoid perhaps being slightly 'under whelmed', by remembering that any similarities to other films they have seen are because they copied it ! Also, to avoid any perception of it being dated, it is essential to watch the restored version as that brings the picture quality and soundtrack up to modern standards...There is also some rather 'clunky' dialogue at the beginning between Graham and his detective friend Jack Crawford which might make some stop watching there and then, but things improve dramatically from then on...
Despite the viewer already knowing who the murderer is, the 'revelation' of him being detected is stunningly portrayed by Peterson as he speaks his thought processes out loud. Whilst the key clue is there all along, I doubt any viewer will have figured it out before he does !
William Petersen portrays his disturbed and gradually fixated/overwhelmed character extremely well, Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) is played beautifully as a chillingly reserved monster, and the serial killer (Tom Noonan) shows all the character 'flaws' required of someone who feels killing is a solution to their issues with great skill; the book obviously covers those aspects more fully than the film....
Finally, a few words about the soundtrack. Mann is well-known for his talent to apply suitable music to his productions and this is no exception (which is why the best sound quality DVD issue is worth getting !). The original music blends beautifully with the plot progression but, more significantly, the addition of existing commercial tracks from talented groups such as 'Shriekback' and 'Iron Butterfly' make the production quite outstanding (they prompted me to explore the music of those groups more and buy their albums).
The background of Shriekbacks 'Evaporation' to Graham's back yard detection scene is enthralling, 'This Big Hush' provides a marvellous backdrop to the serial killer 'love' scene. However, the true highlights are the use of 'Coelocanth' to support the 'Tiger in the vet's' scene and the climax of the film relying on 'In A Gadda Da Vida' by Iron Butterfly.
It is noteworthy that the artistic nature of Mann's direction is especially evident in the climax, as the film is edited to fit in with that 10 minute-long music track, rather than the music being applied to the film.
SEE THIS FILM !!!
One point worth bearing in mind that a definitive DVD edition does not really exist as the various issues all have flaws and varying 'cuts' (variations even exist between those issues labelled 'Theatrical Cut' and 'Director's Cut' !).
I own the Region 1 Limited Edition Anchor Bay 2-disc effort (as it was the 1st special re-issue), the Restored Region 2 UK Directors Cut (for the commentary and other extras) and lately have acquired the Region 2 issue originating from Japan which has DTS, a good image transfer and has the 'definitive' Theatrical cut !
All these newer issues have a very good picture quality and soundtrack, so you can't really go wrong with any of them.
However, various tweaks (mostly detrimental) have been made to later issues, including the omission of crucial exchanges between Graham and the police and latterly between Graham and Crawford. Whilst the addition of some scenes is welcome, I cannot fathom why some scenes have been 'cut' like this when they are so important to the overall plot...
on 9 February 2014
This was the first to introduce Hannibal Lecktor to the world and is based on Thomas Harris 'Red Dragon' Story. Later remade and if you buy this, will recognise the story line but this is much better...
Will Greham played by CSI William Petersen, Grissom...is an introduction to the type of character we have come to love him for.
I have watched this film hmmm maybe 20 times..it was one of the first that had me on the edge of my seat, made the hair on my neck stick up and it still does...you have to get into it ...you have to get into the mind of the FBI profiler Will Greham to experience the tension and horror of this film story. My wife will not watch this movie, it upsets her mind too much....
Michel Mann's direction and music are the best... Michael Mann made the TV series Miami Vice ..the original one I mean and his mode / genre just drips out of this film...VERY much recommended, really worth the space on the collectors shelf.
You will not be disappointed with this.