Cannibalizing Montage: Slicing, Dicing, and Splicing in Bryan Fuller’s ‘Hannibal’

Journal article published in Quarterly Review of Film and Video 35.6 (2018): 644–656.

Special issue: “Hannibal Lecter’s Forms, Formulations, and Transformations,” guest edited by Jessica Balanzategui and Naja Later.

This special issue of the journal Quarterly Review of Film and Video is the first published research output following the Feasting on Hannibal Conference in 2016, which I co-convened with Dr Jessica Balanzategui and Dr Naja Later. 

Hannibal,“Sakizuki” (2:2)

“Cannibalizing Montage: Slicing, Dicing, and Splicing in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal

Introductory paragraph

In Bryan Fuller’s television show Hannibal (2013–2015), the kitchen and dining room are represented as traditional spaces for the sociocultural experience of cooking and eating food; however, the deliberate use of editing techniques subverts the conventionality of these spaces by reformalizing them as crime and murder scenes. Here I consider how Fuller’s Hannibal deploys editing and the concept of “collisional montage” to provoke a spatial nexus between murder and the kitchen, and thus cannibalism and eating animals. This collisional dynamic corresponds with the theorization of montage by Soviet filmmaker and film theorist Sergei Eisenstein: “from the collision of two given factors arises a concept.” Following this theorem, I argue that in Fuller’s Hannibal, montage reformulates the monstrosity of cannibalism in its association with everyday meat-eating. Moreover, because intertextual and paratextual knowledge already informs viewers that Hannibal Lecter is a cannibal, I contend that the ambiguity of Lecter’s meals is less focused on the reprehensibility of cannibalism and is instead directed towards the conflicting association between cannibalism and everyday meat-eating. The use of montage in Fuller’s Hannibal is particularly significant in this context because editing practices cut across our intertextual and paratextual knowledge of “Hannibal the Cannibal” in order to problematize the aesthetic benevolence of his kitchen and dining table.

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