Monday, August 31, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 3: The characters' speech peculiarities


Let us begin this post by discussing the topic of Dollarhyde's deformity. He has cleft lip (see screencap below). Recall, however, that Reba tells him he speaks very well, although she also mentions to him that he avoids fricatives and sibilants. She also tells him she has trained for therapy with speech- and hearing-impaired children. We also observe that in the interaction between Francis and Reba, we have a man who is primarily interested in visual stimuli, being attracted to a blind woman.

Dollarhyde has cleft lip (click image to enlarge).

Although Dollarhyde does not have any overt speech defects, he does however exhibit, on several occasions, the behavior of speaking with a delay in the middle of a sentence. One example of this is his telling Freddy Lounds, upon first showing himself to Lounds, "Here" (the ellipsis denotes the delay of one or two seconds between words). He does this a second time in the same scene, after putting in his false teeth in preparation for biting Lounds – he says, "seal our promise with...with a kiss."

This behavior seems to be trivial until we note that both Graham and Molly speak in this way too, that is, with a delay, on a couple of occasions. In the first scene in the movie, in which Graham and Jack Crawford are conversing, Crawford says, "You look alright now", and Will responds, "I am...alright." Molly's delay in speaking comes at the very end of the movie when, in referring to the killing of Dollarhyde by Will, she says to Will, "It was on"

Above left: Dollarhyde speaks with a delay in the middle of a sentence, while talking to Freddy Lounds just before biting him. Above right: Graham speaks with a similar delay while talking to Crawford at the beginning of the film.

Another behavior which both Will and Molly exhibit, and their son, Kevin, as well, is stuttering. When Will is talking to Kevin while building a turtle hatchery (above left), at one point Will says, "can't dig unner – under." In the scene in which Kevin wakes up Molly (above right), she stutters upon being awoken, then Kevin says, "s–ss-someone’s outside."

Another scene in the movie which has to do with speech peculiarities, occurs when Crawford and Graham are flying to St. Louis, to apprehend the Tooth Fairy, whose real name they do not yet know. For a description of this scene, see the screencaps (with captions) below.

Top left: Crawford (seated at left) and Graham (seated at right) are on a small aircraft bound for St. Louis, Missouri, where they have discovered the Tooth Fairy's workplace (Gateway Labs) to be located. Top right: During this flight, Crawford gets on the phone with a man at Gateway labs, and this man starts feeding Crawford, one by one, the names of Gateway employees who have permits to park vans (the investigators also know by this point, that the Tooth Fairy drives a van). Crawford relays the names to Graham, one by one. Above left and right: Graham (above left) is in contact with Lieutenant Fisk of the Missouri State Police (the black man in the above right screencap); the Lieutenant is looking up the driver's license of each man whose name is given to him by Graham, in the state Department of Revenue records, to see if the physical description on the license matches the physical description of the Tooth Fairy he has already been given by Graham. At one point, Crawford gives Graham the name of an employee whose surname is "Alvaro", pronouncing it 'al-VAR-o' with the emphasis on the second syllable. Graham then gives the name to Lieutenant Fisk, pronouncing the last name 'AL-var-o'.

As we will see later, the fact that there are speech peculiarities in the movie has some very important significance for this analysis.


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