Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Manhunter analysis - part 5: Problems with the teeth cast and bite marks

CATEGORY: MOVIES     [Hidden plot related]

In part 4 of the analysis, we went over how the results of one of the lab analyses (the hair sample) done on the note found in Lecktor's cell were used incorrectly, thus raising the issue of how certain we can be that the Tooth Fairy himself is the person who wrote the entire note. In this post we'll look at a case of 'neglect' by the FBI concerning the note's analysis, and we'll see that had there not been this neglect, then the investigators would have been even less certain that the Tooth Fairy was, in fact, the person who wrote all of it.

We begin with a scene from early in the movie, in which a group of Atlanta police officers are being lectured by their supervisor about the Tooth Fairy and the killings. Graham and Crawford are present at this meeting. At the beginning of this scene, we see a man (Dr. Dominick Princi) lecturing the officers and others present while holding a cast of the Tooth Fairy's teeth (see screencap at left); he tells them that the cast was made by workers at the Smithsonian, from the impressions of bite marks found on Mrs. Leeds and Mrs. Jacobi. He states that a characteristic of the cast is that it indicates the killer has pegged lateral incisors. If we look carefully, we observe that that is true of the model itself: the second teeth back from center on either side (of the upper teeth), are underdeveloped and somewhat peg-shaped (the right lateral incisor is pointed to by the arrow - click image to enlarge). However, as shown in the screencap, while the lecturer, when speaking, refers to the lateral incisors, he is actually pointing to the canine teeth (the third teeth back).

The above observations on the teeth cast have to do with the tissue note, because the note has teeth marks embedded in it at the bottom, which were supposedly made by the killer's teeth. When we are later shown a close-up of these teeth indentations (shown at left), we notice that the marks do not indicate pegged lateral incisors (the teeth pointed to by the arrows), because pegged teeth are underdeveloped, and would leave smaller indentations. Thus, at this point we should have cause to wonder if it is the Tooth Fairy's teeth that made the marks in the note.

It's true that in a later scene, Dollarhyde is shown putting in false teeth in preparation for biting Freddy Lounds; so it seems that we are to assume that these false teeth are the ones he used to bite the women, and that the marks in the toilet tissue were made using a different set of teeth owned by him. However, the point is that Mann is here suggesting to us, the audience, via introducing the idea of uncertainty on the issue of the teeth, that something's not quite right about the way the FBI is handling things.


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