Movie Review: Prague-shot ‘Hannibal Rising’ not a total dud

Surprisingly not-awful prequel to The Silence of the Lambs and the other Hannibal movies, film isn´t all that great, either.

Lithuania, 1944: the Lector family is killed during the course of WWII, leaving young Hannibal and sister Mischa to fend for themselves as their home is taken over by Nazis. Starving soldiers eat Mischa to survive; eight years later, Hannibal vows revenge.

Half Death Wish-like revenge tale, half backstory of one of the screen´s great villains, but satisfying as neither because we don´t care about this psycho or want his motivations explained to us.

Well-filmed by director Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring), Thomas Harris´ story is much too weak, and his script is full of awful dialogue; wonderful actress Gong Li suffers the worst, though Gaspard Ulliel is OK in the lead – as long as you abandon any comparisons to Anthony Hopkins.

When Hannibal first meets Li´s Lady Murasaki, film inexplicably turns into a ridiculous ‘Samurai Hannibal´ for fifteen minutes. By the end, as Hannibal snacks on a live man´s face, the movie has completely crossed the line into full camp and unintentional humor.

Still, moderately entertaining, with a couple of memorable scenes along the way.

Filmed in the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and France in late 2005.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at

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