Hannibal Lecter Movies In Order: Many film enthusiasts were initially introduced to the highly intelligent and captivating serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter, notably portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs. Adapted from Thomas Harris’s 1981 book of the same name, the audience is compelled to envision the monstrous nature of Dr. Lecter, or “Hannibal the Cannibal,” before Hopkins’ on-screen appearance. Through dialogue among characters familiar with his heinous acts, the suspense builds before his formal introduction, revealing his highly calculated nature.
Watch Hannibal Lecter Movies in Order
This prompts viewers to question the circumstances leading to his capture and ponder about his life before incarceration. Subsequent films added complexity to the timeline, creating some confusion. This article aims to provide clarity by offering a breakdown of the chronological order of the Hannibal Lecter series. If you’re considering delving into the series, here’s a guide on how to watch Hannibal Lecter movies in order.
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Despite being the most recent installment, both in terms of the movie and the book release, “Hannibal Rising” is the first film you should watch to understand Lecter’s story. Set in 1944 Lithuania, this movie serves as an origin tale. It delves into the early experiences that shaped Hannibal Lecter’s inclination toward carnage and human flesh. The narrative unfolds with eight-year-old Lecter losing his family during the conflict between retreating Nazi forces and a Soviet tank.
In his adult years, portrayed by the late Gaspard Ulliel, Lecter embarks on a quest to seek vengeance against those who held him and his younger sister captive, leading to his sister’s tragic demise. The movie concludes with Hannibal’s journey to the United States.
“Manhunter” shares a parallel plotline with “Red Dragon” and predates “The Silence of the Lambs” by 5 years. Despite its alignment with the narrative of later releases, the movie struggled at the box office. Starring Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecktor (note the altered spelling for the film) and William Petersen as Will Graham, the movie, in hindsight, has gained recognition as a cult classic. Notably, it holds historical significance as the first film featuring “Hannibal the Cannibal” as the antagonist.
Red Dragon (2002)
“Red Dragon” unfolds in 1980, portraying Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) as an established forensic psychiatrist. He paradoxically aids FBI profiler Will Graham (Edward Norton) in a case involving a serial killer dismembering victims. As Graham realizes the killer’s cannibalistic tendencies, he nearly becomes a victim himself. It leads to Lecter’s incarceration in a sanatorium for the criminally insane, overseen by Director Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald).
Years later, Graham seeks Lecter’s assistance in tracking a new serial killer named “The Tooth Fairy,” portrayed by Ralph Fiennes. After persuasion, Lecter agrees to help Graham. It is later revealed that Hannibal had been in contact with the killer, manipulating both men as pawns. The movie concludes with Chilton informing Lecter of a visitor from the FBI—a young woman.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
This particular Hannibal Lecter movie stands out as the most renowned in the series. It achieved a global gross of $272.7 million and secured Oscars across all five major categories. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), is introduced at the end of “Red Dragon,” as the young woman from the FBI. She seeks information from Lecter to uncover the identity and location of serial killer “Buffalo Bill,” portrayed by Ted Levine. Lecter, intrigued by Starling, imposes his conditions for cooperation—demanding “quid pro quo.”
While Starling pursues Buffalo Bill, Lecter cunningly devises an escape plan. The film builds up to Hannibal showcasing his prowess during a bloody escape. In the concluding scene, Starling receives a call from Lecter, revealing his presence in the Bahamas. Despite Starling’s determination to track him down, he ends the call with the ominous statement, “having an old friend for dinner,” directed at his former jailer, Frederick Chilton. Jonathan Demme directed the film and received the Academy Award for Best Director for his exceptional work.
Hannibal Lecter Movies In Order: Hannibal (2001)
Set approximately a decade after the events in “The Silence of the Lambs,” this movie depicts Hannibal Lecter still on the loose. Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) receives a taunting letter from Lecter following a professional misstep. Simultaneously, she is contacted by Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), the sole surviving victim of Lecter, who, now disfigured and paralyzed, manipulates Starling into becoming bait to lure Hannibal out for revenge. Starling attempts to thwart Verger’s plan, aiming to capture Lecter herself and turn him over to the authorities. However, she is shot and injured in the process.
Instead of abandoning her, Lecter rescues Starling. And, upon her regaining consciousness, she handcuffs herself to him to prevent a quick escape. As law enforcement closes in, Lecter is on the verge of severing her hand to make a getaway but once again spares her. The final scene depicts Hannibal on a plane with a bandaged stump for a hand, enjoying a meal he brought with him. He offers some to a young boy nearby. Given this timeline, it suggests that Dr. Hannibal Lecter could potentially be alive in his mid-to-late 80s, leading a retired life and savoring exquisite dining experiences.
TV Shows on Hannibal Lecter
This series is set in the timeframe between the occurrences of “Hannibal Rising” and “Red Dragon,” despite its contemporary setting. Dr. Lecter, portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, assumes the role of a consultant to FBI profiler Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, in their pursuit of a serial killer in Minnesota. Given the introduction of multiverses in other cinematic narratives, it’s conceivable that this portrayal could be viewed as a modern-day iteration of the Anthony Hopkins version of Hannibal Lecter. While enthusiasts of the show eagerly await news of a potential Season 4, the likelihood diminishes with each passing year.
Conceived as a continuation of Clarice Starling’s narrative, portrayed by Rebecca Breeds. This show unfolds after the events depicted in “The Silence of the Lambs” and before the movie Hannibal. Given the approximately 10-year gap to bridge between the two films, “Clarice” had ample storytelling terrain to explore. Initially approved for Lifetime, the show underwent a shift to CBS under the guidance of creators Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet. However, efforts to relocate the series to Paramount+ have encountered obstacles, and the future of “Clarice” remains uncertain, with indications pointing towards it remaining a one-season production. – Hannibal Lecter Movies in Order