Thank Anthony Hopkins for this one. While Thomas Harris described in great detail the character of Hannibal Lecter, it was difficult to get a sense of him as a person, beyond the fact that he was a demented sociopathic genius. It was Hopkins who took this blank(ish) slate to wring a healthy amount of disgusting charm from the highbrow cannibal. In fact, there’s a marked difference in the way Lecter is written in the first two books (Red Dragon and Lambs) and again in the later Hannibal, leading me to believe that the author took cues from Hopkins portrayal.
The 1972 classic is widely regarded as the greatest cinematic achievement of all time. It is based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel of the same name. While the film remains by and large faithful to the novel, save for the trimming of some backstories, the performances, score, and, to a lesser extent, the direction, elevate the story above the genre and into history.
Enough can’t be said about the score, which manages to transcend both the temporal setting of the film, as well as the era of the film’s release. It’s used to build tension in ways that Puzo simply can’t as a writer. The best example is the horse head scene during which the camera seems to be ambling about aimlessly, while the score singularly reminds the viewer that some bad shit is going down.