- Manhunter (film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Mann Produced by Dino De Laurentiis
Richard A. Roth
Screenplay by Michael Mann Based on Red Dragon by
Starring William Petersen
Music by Michel Rubini
Cinematography Dante Spinotti Editing by Dov Hoenig Studio De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Red Dragon Productions
Distributed by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group Release date(s) August 15, 1986 Running time 121 minutes
124 minutes (Director's cut)
Country United States Language English Budget $15 million Box office $8,620,929
Manhunter is a 1986 American thriller film based on Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon. Written and directed by Michael Mann, it stars William Petersen as Will Graham and features Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecktor. When asked to investigate a killer known as "The Tooth Fairy," FBI profiler Will Graham comes out of retirement to lend his talents to the case—in doing so he must confront the specter of his past and meet with a jailed killer who nearly counted Graham amongst his victims. Dennis Farina co-stars as Jack Crawford, Graham's superior at the FBI, while serial killer Francis Dollarhyde—"The Tooth Fairy"—is portrayed by Tom Noonan.
Manhunter focuses on the forensic work carried out by the FBI to track down the killer, and shows the long-term effects that cases like this have on Graham, highlighting the similarities between him and his quarry. The film features heavily-stylized use of color to convey this sense of duality, and the nature of the characters' similarity has been explored in academic readings of the film. This was not the first adaptation of a Harris novel for the screen—the 1975 novel Black Sunday, a story of a terrorist attack on the Super Bowl, was adapted to film in 1977—but this was the first film to feature the serial killer "Hannibal the Cannibal" who would later appear in The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising.
Opening to mixed reviews, Manhunter fared poorly at the box office at the time of its release, making only $8.6 million in the United States on a $15 million budget. However, it has since been reappraised in more recent reviews and now enjoys a more favorable reception, with both the acting and the stylized visuals having gained appreciation in later years. Its resurgent popularity, which may be due to later adaptations of Harris' books and Petersen's success in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, has seen it labelled as a cult film.
Will Graham (William Petersen) is a former FBI criminal profiler who has retired due to a breakdown after being attacked by a cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox). He is approached at his Florida home by his former FBI superior Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina), who is seeking help with a new serial killer case. Promising his wife (Kim Greist) that he will do nothing more than examine evidence and not risk physical harm, Graham agrees to visit the most recent crime scene in Atlanta, attempting to enter the mindset of the killer, now dubbed the "Tooth Fairy" by the police for the bite-marks left on his victims.
After finding the killer's fingerprints, Graham meets with Crawford. They are accosted by tabloid journalist Freddie Lounds (Stephen Lang), with whom Graham has a bitter history. Lounds' paper had run photographs of Graham taken secretly while he was hospitalized. Graham pays a visit to the cell of Lecktor, a former psychiatrist, asking for his insight into the killer's motivations. After a tense conversation, Lecktor agrees to look at the case file. Lecktor is later able to deceitfully obtain Graham's home address.
Graham travels to the first crime scene in Birmingham, Alabama, where he is contacted by Crawford, who tells him of Lounds' tabloid story on the case. Crawford also patches Graham through to Frederick Chilton (Benjamin Hendrickson), Lecktor's warden, who has found a note in Lecktor's personal effects. Reading it they realize it is from the Tooth Fairy, expressing admiration for Lecktor—and an interest in Graham. Crawford brings Graham to the FBI Academy at Quantico, where a missing section of the note is analyzed to determine what Lecktor has removed. It is found to be an instruction to communicate through the personals section of the National Tattler, Lounds' newspaper. The FBI set up a fake advertisement to replace Lecktor's response. Graham also organizes an interview with Lounds during which he gives a false and derogatory profile of the Tooth Fairy in order to incite him. After a sting operation fails to catch the killer, Lounds is kidnapped by the Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan). Waking in the killer's home, he is shown a slideshow of William Blake's "The Great Red Dragon" paintings, along with the Tooth Fairy's past victims and slides of a family the killer identifies as his next targets. Lounds is forced to tape-record a statement before being set alight in a wheelchair and killed, his flaming body rolled into the parking garage of the National Tattler as a warning.
Graham is told by Crawford that they have cracked Lecktor's coded message to the Tooth Fairy—it is Graham's home address with an instruction to kill the family. Graham rushes home to find his family safe but terrified. He tries to explain to his son Kevin why he had retired previously. At his job in a St. Louis film lab, Francis Dollarhyde—The Tooth Fairy—approaches a blind co-worker, Reba McClane (Joan Allen), and ends up offering her a ride. They go to Dollarhyde's home, where Reba is oblivious to the fact that Dollarhyde is watching home-movie footage of his planned next victim. She kisses him and they make love. Dollarhyde is confused by this newfound relationship, though it helps suppress his bloodlust. Just as Graham comes to realize how much the Tooth Fairy's desire for acceptance factors into the murders, Dollarhyde watches as Reba is escorted home by another co-worker. Mistakenly believing them to be kissing, Dollarhyde murders the man and abducts Reba. When she calls him Francis, he tells her "Francis is gone. Forever."
Desperately trying to figure out a connection between the murdered families, Graham realizes that someone must have seen their home movies. He and Crawford deduce where the videos were processed. They identify the lab in St. Louis and fly there immediately. Dollarhyde has been casing the victims' homes through home videos, enabling him to prepare for the break-ins in extreme detail. Graham is able to determine which employee has seen these films, and obtains Dollarhyde's home address, which he and Crawford travel to with a police escort. Reba is terrified at Dollarhyde's home as he contemplates what to do with her. As he struggles to kill Reba with a piece of broken mirror glass, police teams assemble around the house. Able to see that Dollarhyde has someone inside with him, Graham lunges through a window. He is quickly subdued by Dollarhyde, who retrieves a shotgun and uses it to wound Crawford and kill two police officers. Wounded in the firefight, Dollarhyde returns to the kitchen to shoot Graham, but misses due to his injuries, and is killed in return. Graham, Reba, and Crawford are tended to by paramedics before Graham returns home, this time permanently retired.
- William Petersen as Will Graham. Richard Gere, Mel Gibson and Paul Newman were considered for the role, but Mann cast Petersen after seeing footage from To Live and Die in L.A.. Petersen spent time with officers of the Chicago Police Department researching for his role.
- Kim Greist as Molly Graham. Greist, who reviews felt was "wasted in a tiny role", had previously worked with Mann on an episode of Miami Vice.
- Joan Allen as Reba McClane. Allen spent time with the New York Institute for the Blind, learning to walk through New York blindfolded in preparation for her role. Allen had previously worked with co-star William Petersen on stage, in the 1980 Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of Balm in Gilead.
- Brian Cox as Dr. Hannibal Lecktor. Actors John Lithgow, Mandy Patinkin, and Brian Dennehy, and director William Friedkin were also considered for the part of Lecktor, whose named was changed from the novel's 'Lecter' for unknown reasons. Cox based his performance on Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel. Cox was asked to audition with his back turned to the casting agents, as they felt they needed to focus on the power of his voice when considering him for the part.
- Dennis Farina as Jack Crawford. Farina had already worked with Michael Mann before, having made his acting début in 1981's Thief, before appearing in Crime Story and several episodes of Miami Vice. Farina had already read the novel Red Dragon, and was called to audition at the same time as Brian Cox.
- Tom Noonan as Francis Dollarhyde. Noonan credits his casting for his ability to improvise during his rehearsals, and began body-building to physically prepare for the part. He began preparation for his role by studying other serial killers, but quickly rejected this approach. Whilst shooting the film, Noonan remained in character at all times, and kept away from those cast members playings his pursuers.
- Stephen Lang as Freddy Lounds. Lang had previously starred in Band of the Hand, on which Michael Mann was executive producer, would also go on to appear in the Mann-produced Crime Story with Farina, as well as Mann's 2009 film Public Enemies.
The film was originally going to use the novel's title Red Dragon. Michael Mann, who called the film's title "inferior", said producer Dino De Laurentiis changed the title after Michael Cimino's De Laurentiis-produced Year of the Dragon bombed at the box office in 1985. William Petersen has commented that the title was changed to also avoid being confused for a karate movie. "At the time, Bruce Lee was knocking out Dragon movies, and Dino, in his wisdom, decided people would think it was a kung-fu movie," he later recalled. Brian Cox, who played jailed killer Hannibal Lecktor, has also expressed disdain for the film's title, calling it "bland" and "cheesy".
William Petersen worked with the Chicago Police Department Violent Crimes Unit and the FBI Violent Crimes Unit in preparation for his role, talking to the officers and reading some of their crime files. He spoke to the investigators on the Richard Ramirez case about how they coped with the effects these disturbing cases had on them and how they learned to "compartmentalize" their working and personal lives. "Of course you don’t really turn it off," he recalled. "At the end of the day, even if you’re just a regular policeman, it takes a toll". During the three years he spent working on the script, Michael Mann also spent time with the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, where he claimed to have met people very like the character of Will Graham. This level of research has led to the film being described as "one of the most competent blends of cutting-edge forensic science and criminal profiling at the time". Mann also spent several years corresponding with imprisoned murderer Dennis Wayne Wallace. Wallace had been motivated by his obsession for a woman he barely knew, and believed that Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" was "their song"; this connection led to Mann including the song in the film.
Tom Noonan, who played the killer Francis Dollarhyde, initially researched other serial killers to study for the role, but felt put off by this. He then decided to play the character with the sense that he felt he was doing right by his victims, not harming them. "I wanted to feel this guy was doing the best he could", Noonan explained, "that he was doing this out of love". Joan Allen, who played Dollarhyde's blind love interest Reba McClane, recalls meeting with representatives of the New York Institute for the Blind in preparation for her role. She spent time walking around New York wearing a mask over her eyes in order to get accustomed to walking as though she were blind.
John Lithgow, Mandy Patinkin, William Friedkin, and Brian Dennehy were all considered for the role of Hannibal Lecktor; although Brian Cox was cast after being recommended to Mann by Dennehy. Cox based his portrayal on Scottish serial killer Peter Manuel who he stated "didn't have a sense of right and wrong." Cox has also suggested that he was given the role due to his nationality, claiming that characters who are "a little bit nasty" are best played by Europeans. Mann kept the role of Lecktor very short, believing that it was "such a charismatic character that [he] wanted the audience almost not to get enough of him". For the role of Will Graham, De Laurentiis had expressed interest in Richard Gere, Mel Gibson and Paul Newman, but Michael Mann, having seen footage of William Petersen's role in To Live and Die in L.A., championed Petersen for the part. Tom Noonan credits his casting in the role of Francis Dollarhyde to improvisation during his audition, recalling that he was reading lines alongside a young woman. During a reading of the scene featuring the torture of Freddie Lounds, Noonan noticed the woman rehearsing with him beginning to seem frightened, and deliberately tried to scare her more, believing this is what secured the role for him.
Petersen has claimed in an interview that one of the film's scenes forced the crew to adopt a guerrilla filmmaking approach. The scene, in which Petersen's character Will Graham falls asleep whilst studying crime scene photographs during a flight, required the use of an airplane during shooting. Michael Mann had been unable to gain permission to use a plane for the scene and booked tickets for the crew on a flight from Chicago to Florida. Once on board the crew used their equipment, checked in as hand luggage, to shoot the scene quickly while keeping the plane's passengers and crew mollified with Manhunter crew jackets.
Cinematographer Dante Spinotti made strong use of color tints in the film, using a cool "romantic blue" tone to denote the scenes featuring Will Graham and his wife, and a more subversive green hue, with elements of purple or magenta, as a cue for the unsettling scenes in the film, mostly involving Dollarhyde. William Petersen has stated that Mann wanted to create a visual aura to bring the audience into the film, so that the story would work on an interior and emotional level. Mann also made use of multiple frame rates in filming the climactic shootout, with multiple cameras recording the scene at 24, 36, 72 and 90 frames per second, giving the final scene what Spinotti has called an "off tempo", "staccato" feel.
During principal photography, Noonan asked that no one in the cast who played his victims or his pursuers be allowed to see him, whilst those he did speak to would address him by his character's name, Francis. The first time Noonan met Petersen was when Petersen jumped through a large window during the filming of the climactic fight scene. Noonan admits that, because of his request, the atmosphere on set became so tense that people actually became afraid of him. The actor had also begun body-building to prepare for the role, felt that his size intimidated the crew when filming began, as the first scene to be shot was his character's interrogation and murder of another. Noonan also claims this led to him taking separate flights and staying in separate hotels from the rest of the cast; and while on the film's sets, he would remain in his trailer alone in the dark to prepare himself, sometimes joined by a silent Mann.
Petersen recalled filming the climactic shoot-out scene at the end of principal photography, at which point most of the crew had already left the production, due to time constraints. With no special effects crew to provide the blood spatter for the gunshots, Petersen described how the remaining crew would blow ketchup across the set through hoses when the effects were needed. Joan Allen also related that Michael Mann would simulate the impacts of gunfire in Dollarhyde's kitchen by throwing glass jars across the surfaces so they would shatter where he needed them to; one of these broken jars left a shard of glass impaled in Petersen's thigh during filming. The pool of blood forming around Noonan's character at the end of this scene was intended to allude to the "Red Dragon" tattoos worn by the character in the novel. This shot left Noonan lying in the corn syrup stage blood for so long that he became stuck to the floor.
Spinotti has commented on how Mann's use of mise en scène when framing shots evokes "the emotional situation in the film at that particular time", noting the director's focus on the particular shape or color of elements of the set when shooting. He has also called to attention the scene in which Graham visits Lecktor in his cell, noting the constant position of the cell bars within the frame even as the shots cut back and forth between the two characters. "There is nothing in Manhunter ... which is just a nice shot," says Spinotti. "[It] is all focused into conveying that particular atmosphere; whether it's happiness, or delusion, or disillusion". This "manipulation of focus and editing" has become a visual hallmark of the film.
Despite having initially filmed the scenes involving Francis Dollarhyde with an elaborate tattoo across actor Tom Noonan's chest, Mann and Spinotti felt that the finished result seemed out of place and that it "trivialize[d] the struggle" the character faced. Mann cut the scenes in which the character appeared bare-chested, and quickly re-shot additional footage to replace what had been removed. Spinotti noted that in doing so, scenes which he felt had been captured with a "beautiful" aesthetic were lost, as the production did not have the time to recreate the original lighting conditions for the removed content.
Petersen had difficulty ridding himself of the Will Graham character after principal photography wrapped. While rehearsing for a play in Chicago, he felt that the old character "always coming out" instead of his new role. To try and rid himself of the character, Petersen went to a barbershop where he had them shave his beard, cut his hair and dye it blond so that he could look into the mirror and see a different person. He initially felt it was due to the rigorous shooting schedule for Manhunter, but later realized that the character "had creeped in".
Manhunter (Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack) Soundtrack album by Various artists Released 1986 Genre Soundtrack Label MCA
Manhunter's soundtrack "dominates the film", with the music being "explicitly diegetic the entire way". Steve Rybin has noted the film's music is not intended to correlate with the intensity of the action portrayed alongside it, but rather to denote when the viewer should react with a "degree of aesthetic distance" from the film, or be "suture[d] into the diegetic world" more closely. The soundtrack album was released in limited quantities in 1986, on MCA Records (#6182). It was not, however, released on compact disc at the time, being released only on cassette tape and vinyl record. On 19 March 2007, a 2-CD set entitled Music from the Films of Michael Mann was released that features four tracks from Manhunter: The Prime Movers' "Strong As I Am", Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", Shriekback's "This Big Hush", and Red 7's "Heartbeat". In March 2010, Intrada Records announced that they were releasing the Manhunter soundtrack on CD for the first time. An extra track, "Jogger's Stakeout" by The Reds, has been added to the listing.
The Reds were contacted about contributing to the film's soundtrack after submitting their music for possible use on Miami Vice. The band recorded their score over a period of two months, in studios in New York and Los Angeles. They recorded a total of 28 minutes of music for the film, however several cues were replaced later on with music by Shriekback and Michel Rubini. "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd and "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" by The Electric Prunes have both been cited by The Reds' vocalist Rick Shaffer as influences on the film's soundtrack. "Strong as I Am" by The Prime Movers was selected for the film by Mann, who later funded the filming of a music video for the song's release as a single.
The soundtrack was one of the 1980s film soundtracks used by Zack Snyder and Tyler Bates for inspiration whilst writing the score to the 2009 film Watchmen, along with those of To Live and Die in L.A. and Blade Runner.
No. Title Writer(s) Length 1. "Strong as I Am" The Prime Movers 4:37 2. "Coelocanth" Shriekback 4:19 3. "This Big Hush" Shriekback 6:13 4. "Graham's Theme" Michel Rubini 4:00 5. "Evaporation" Shriekback 3:18 6. "Heartbeat" Red 7 3:52 7. "Lector's Cell" The Reds 1:48 8. "Jogger's Stakeout" The Reds 2:05 9. "Leed's House" The Reds 4:32 10. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" Iron Butterfly 8:20Total length: 43:29
Music in the film's screen credits which are not listed above included:
No. Title Writer(s) Length 1. "Freeze" Klaus Schulze 6:42 2. "Seiun" Kitarō 8:00Total length: 14:42
Visually, Manhunter is driven by strong color-cues and the use of tints, including the hallmark blue of Michael Mann's work. Dante Spinotti has noted that these visual cues were meant to invoke different moods based on the tone of the scenes in which they were used—cool blue tones were used for the scenes shared between Will Graham and his wife Molly, and unsettling greens and magentas were used for the scenes with the killer Francis Dollarhyde. Steven Rybin has noted that "blue is associated with Molly, sex, and the Graham family home"; whilst green denotes "searching and discovery", pointing out the color of Graham's shirt when the investigation begins, and the green tone of the interior shots in the Atlanta police station. The effect of this has been noted as aiding to identify the character of Graham with the "goodness" of the natural world, and Dollarhyde with the city, "where sickness thrives". This strongly-stylized approach initially drew criticisms from reviewers, but has since been seen as a hallmark of the film and lauded more positively.
Academic studies of the film tend to draw attention to the relationship between the characters of Graham and Dollarhyde, noting, for example, that the film "chooses to emphasize the novel's symbiotic relationships between Graham, Lecter and Dolarhyde [sic] by visual techniques and screen acting where subtlety plays a key role". In his book Hearths of Darkness: The Family in the American Horror Film, Tony Williams praises the depth of the film's characterizations, calling Dollarhyde a "victim of society" with his portrayal "undermining convenient barriers between monster and human". Philip L. Simpson echoes this sentiment in his book Psycho Paths: Tracking the Serial Killer through Contemporary American Film, calling Manhunter a "profoundly ambiguous and destabilizing film" which creates "uncomfortable affinities between protagonist and antagonist". Mark T. Conard's The Philosophy of Film Noir follows this same idea, claiming that the film presents the notion that "what it takes to catch a serial killer is tantamount to being one".
Manhunter was released in the United States on 15 August 1986. It opened in 779 theaters and grossed $2,204,400 in its opening weekend. The film eventually grossed a total of $8,620,929 domestically, making it the 76th highest-grossing film that year. As such, it failed to earn over its $15,000,000 budget. Due to internal problems at De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, the film's UK premiere was postponed for over a year. It was screened in November 1987 as part of the London Film Festival and saw wide release on 24 February 1989. In France, the film was screened at the 1987 Cognac Festival du Film Policier on April 9, where it was awarded the Critics Prize. It was also shown at the 2009 Camerimage Film Festival in Łódź, Poland. On 19 March 2011, the film was screened at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood to celebrate the 25th anniversary of its release. Michael Mann was present for discussion at the event.
Manhunter was released in a widescreen edition on laserdisc in 1986. It was released on VHS several times, including by BMG on 10 October 1998, and by Universal Studios in 2001. It has also been available on DVD in various versions. Anchor Bay released a Limited Edition 2-DVD set in 2000. A standard edition, an individual release for the first disc of the 2-disc set, was also released at the same time. In 2003, Anchor Bay released the "Restored Director's Cut" which is very close to the "Director's Cut" on the 2000 disc but omits one scene. It does, however, feature a commentary track by Mann.
In 2004, MGM (current holders of The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal) released a pan and scanned version of the film that was the one seen in theaters. The theatrical cut was finally released on DVD for the first time in 2007 by MGM in widescreen as part of The Hannibal Lecter Collection, along with The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. It was also released by itself on 11 September 2007. Manhunter, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal were released by MGM on Blu-ray disc format as a three-pack set called "The Hannibal Lecter Collection" in September 2009.
Upon its release, Manhunter was met with mixed-to-negative reviews, and was initially seen as overly stylish, owing largely to Mann's '80s-trademark usage of pastel colors, art-deco architecture and glass brick. The film performed poorly at the box office, earning only $8,620,929 domestically from a $15 million budget. On its opening weekend, Manhunter was screened in 779 cinemas in America, but grossed only $2,204,400 domestically, making it the number eight film for that week. The film did however earn director Michael Mann the Critics Choice award at the 1987 Cognac Festival du Film Policier and was nominated for the 1987 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture.
A common criticism in the initial reviews was that the film overemphasized the music and stylistic visuals; Petersen's skill as a lead actor was also called into question. Particularly critical of the film's stylistic approach was the New York Times, who called attention to the film's "taste for overkill", branding Mann's stylized approach as "hokey" and little more than "gimmicks". Chicago Tribune writer Dave Kehr noted that director Michael Mann "believes in style so much that he has very little belief left over for the characters or situations of his film, which suffers accordingly", adding that the film's focus on style serves to "drain any notion of credibility" from its plot. Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times was critical of the film's visuals and soundtrack, comparing it unfavourably to Miami Vice, and describing it as a "chic, well-cast wasteland" that "delivers very little". The film's stylistic similarity to Miami Vice was also point out by Film Threat's Dave Beuscher, who felt it was the chief reason for the film's poor box office results. Writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, Steve Winn derided the film, claiming its lack of a strong lead role caused it to " fall apart like the shattered mirrors that figure in the crimes". Time was more favorable in its review, praising the "intelligent camerabatics" and "bold, controlled color scheme". Leonard Maltin gave the film three stars, calling it "gripping all the way through and surprisingly nonexploitive", although adding that "the holes start to show through" if looked for "too carefully".
Modern appreciation of the film has seen its standing among critics improve. Salon.com has called Mann's original the best of the Lecter series; whilst Slate magazine described it as "mesmerizing", positing that it directly inspired television series such as Millennium and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, though calling attention to its "Miami-Vice-like overreliance on synthesized sludge". The Independent called it "the most aestheticised film of the 1980s", and noted its "chilly integrity". British television channel and production company Film4 has called it "the most refined screen adaptation of Harris' books", despite finding the film's contemporary soundtrack "dated". Sky Movies also echoed this sentiment, summing up their review with the quote "although it still remains a classic, the film has dated slightly." Retrospective reviews of the film tend to be less critical of its stylized visuals, with BBC's Ali Barclay calling the film "a truly suspenseful, stylish thriller", awarding it four out of five stars; and Total Film's Nathan Ditum describing it as "complex, disturbing and super-stylish", adding that the 2002 remake "can't compete" with it. Empire editor Mark Dinning gave the film five stars out of five, praising the "subtlety" of the acting and the "neon angst" of the visuals. Television channel Bravo named Dollarhyde's interrogation of Freddie Lounds as one of its 30 Even Scarier Movie Moments in 2007; whilst Noonan's portrayal of Dollarhyde has been praised by UGO Networks' Simon Abrams as "a highlight of his career".
Despite its low gross upon its initial release, Manhunter has grown in popularity in recent years. Its resurgence has led to its inclusion in several books and lists of cult films. These reappraisals tend to cite the success of Silence of the Lambs and its sequels as the reason for the increased interest in Manhunter, whilst still favoring the earlier film over its successors. Telling of this resurgence in appreciation are the film's ratings on review aggregation sites such as Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes. Compiled mostly from recent reviews for the film, Manhunter has a metascore of 78 on Metacritic, based on ten reviews, and a 94% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, from 33 reviews.
Manhunter's focus on the use of forensic science in a criminal investigation has been cited as a major influence on several films and television series that have come after it—most notably CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, also featuring William Petersen, which was "inspired, or at least influenced" by the forensic-oriented scenes in Manhunter. Petersen's sympathetic portrayal of profiler Will Graham has also been noted as helping to influence a "shift in the image of the pop-culture FBI agent" that would continue throughout the 1980s and 90s. The film has also been noted as a thematic precursor to the series Millennium, John Doe, Profiler, and The X-Files; as well as films such as Copycat, Switchback, The Bone Collector, Seven and Fallen.
The Silence of the Lambs, a film adaptation of Harris' next Lecter novel, was released in 1991. However, this film does not have any of Manhunter's cast reprising their roles, although characters such as Lecter and Chilton do return with new actors. Actors Frankie Faison and Dan Butler appear in both films, but as different and unrelated characters. The film earned several awards and accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. It is one of only three films to have won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Screenplay. The Silence of the Lambs was followed in turn by a sequel and two prequels; Hannibal, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising.
Of these later films, 2002's Red Dragon, adapted from the same novel as Manhunter, was released to a generally positive critical reception and successful box office receipts; making $209,196,298 on a $78 million budget. Based on recent reviews, Red Dragon currently has a 68% rating from 183 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, and a 60% rating based on 36 reviews on Metacritic. Manhunter's cinematographer Dante Spinotti also served as the director of photography on this version.
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Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter series Novels Films Characters Films directed by Michael Mann 1980s 1990s 2000s
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