Friday, April 30, 2010

Hannibal analysis - part 4: Barney represents a 'corrupted' Holy Spirit


Barney picks up a dead pigeon or dove from a Washington, D.C. street.

Barney brings the bird into his home. Pigeons and doves constitute the bird family Columbidae within the order Columbiformes, which include some 300 species of near passerines. The Holy Spirit is sometimes represented in art by a dove. This dead bird is a 'metaphor' for Barney (who represents the Holy Spirit) having become corrupt; for recall that he sells illegally obtained items that belonged to Hannibal Lecter.

The upper right corner of a photograph in Starling's work area. The two sets of three digits each, ostensibly part of an FBI file or evidence item number, are actually biblical references: '189' is a reference to Genesis (the first book of the bible, thus the '1'), chapter 8, verse 9, which is associated with Barney's actions above, in that the dead bird Barney handles represents a dove: "But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark."[New International Version] The '253' reference will be discussed later in the analysis.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hannibal analysis - part 3: Hannibal and Clarice represent Dante and Beatrice


Dante and Beatrice, by Henry Holiday. Dante (standing at far right) looks longingly at Beatrice (in white) passing by with friend Lady Vanna (red) along the Arno River in Florence. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Dante and Beatrice (painting)' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Beatrice di Folco Portinari (1266–1290) was a Florentine woman and the principal inspiration for Dante Alighieri's La Vita Nuova. Beatrice also appears as Dante's guide in The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) in the last book, Paradise, and in the last four canti (parts) of Purgatory. Being the incarnation of beatific love, as her name implies, it is Beatrice who leads into the beatific vision.

In Hannibal, part of the conversation that takes place between Hannibal Lecter and the Pazzis (after the showing of the opera Vide Cor Meum), has Allegra Pazzi saying to Lecter ('Dr. Fell'), with regard to the content of the opera, "Dr. Fell, do you believe that a man can become so obsessed with a woman from a single encounter?" Lecter responds, "Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her and find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight and ache for him?" The fundamental romantic metaphor at work in the movie Hannibal is that Lecter represents Dante, and Clarice Starling represents his beloved, Beatrice (note the common '-rice'/'-ice' ending of the two names, Beatrice and Clarice). The fragment of conversation quoted above refers to the fact that Hannibal's obsession with Clarice began at the moment of their very first encounter, in The Silence of the Lambs (the prequel to Hannibal). Subsequent to this, Lecter encountered Starling an additional three times (in The Silence of the Lambs). (All four encounters took place while Lecter was imprisoned).

In Christian theology, the beatific vision is the eternal and direct visual perception of God enjoyed by those who are in heaven, imparting supreme happiness or blessedness. While humans' understanding of God while alive is indirect (mediation/prayer, not actually looking at Him), the beatific vision is direct (immediate, visual), or literally, seeing God. In other words, the beatific vision means a soul is actually looking at God, as is, viewing Him without any sort of censorship like that found in the biblical book of Isaiah. Furthermore, seeing God in the beatific vision does not take the viewer's life.[a]

Hannibal Lecter believes that if he gets close enough to Clarice, who represents Beatrice, then he will experience the beatific vision.

a. Wikipedia, 'Beatific vision'. Web, n.d. URL =


Hannibal analysis - part 2: A description of each part of the Holy Trinity


The Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three persons in one Godhead. The doctrine states that God is the Triune God, existing as three persons, but one being. Each person is understood as having the one identical essence or nature, not merely similar natures. Trinitarianism, belief in the Trinity, is a mark of Roman Catholicism, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy as well as of the "mainstream traditions" arising from the Protestant Reformation, such as Anglicanism, Methodism, Lutheranism and Presbyterianism.[a] The three persons of the Trinity and their main characteristics are listed below.

The Father
God the Father is the title and attribution given to God in many monotheist religions. In Christianity, God is called Father because he is the creator, law-giver, and protector, and because of the mystery of the Father-Son relationship revealed by Jesus Christ. In general, the name Father signifies that he is the origin of what is subject to him, a supreme and powerful authority and protector. Moreover, God the Father is viewed as immense, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, with infinite power and charity that goes beyond human understanding.[b]

The Son
The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus of Nazareth as God the Son. He is co-eternal with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit), both before Creation and after the End. So Jesus was always "God the Son", though not revealed as such until he also became the "Son of God" through Incarnation. "Son of God" draws attention to his humanity, whereas "God the Son" refers more generally to his divinity, including his pre-incarnate existence.[c]

The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Son. He is different from the Father and the Son in that he proceeds from the Father (or from the Father and the Son) as described in the Nicene Creed. His sacredness is reflected in the New Testament gospels which proclaim blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as unforgivable. The Holy Spirit is believed to perform specific divine functions in the life of the Christian or the church. These include:

1) Conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit acts to convince the unredeemed person both of the sinfulness of their actions, and of their moral standing as sinners before God.
2) Bringing to conversion. The action of the Holy Spirit is seen as an essential part of the bringing of the person to the Christian faith. The new believer is "born again of the Spirit."
3) Enabling the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is believed to dwell in the individual believers and enable them to live a righteous and faithful life.
4) As a comforter or Paraclete, one who intercedes, or supports or acts as an advocate, particularly in times of trial.
5) Inspiration and interpretation of scripture. The Holy Spirit both inspires the writing of the scriptures and interprets them to the Christian and/or church.[d]

As we will soon see, the character Barney in Hannibal, represents a 'corrupted' Holy Spirit.

a. Wikipedia, 'Trinity'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'God the Father'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. Wikipedia, 'God the Son'. Web, n.d. URL =
d. Wikipedia, 'Holy Spirit in Christianity'. Web, n.d. URL =


Monday, April 5, 2010

The Silence of the Lambs - Analysis of the Movie - part 1: Introduction


[Image at left from the Wikipedia 'The Silence of the Lambs (film)' page; "The Silence of the Lambs poster",[a] licensed under fair use via Wikipedia.]

Welcome to the analysis of The Silence of the Lambs. Buttons at the bottom of each post enable navigation through the parts of the analysis. You may want to view the table of contents. Regarding the appearance of possible anti-Semitism on this blog, please see the 'Disclaimers' section near the bottom of this page.

The Silence of the Lambs was released in 1991, and is based on the book of the same name written by Thomas Harris. It was directed by Jonathan Demme (pronounced 'DEM-ee'), and the screenplay was written by Ted Tally. It stars Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Ted Levine, and Scott Glenn.

The film centers around the actions of four main characters: Hannibal Lecter, the insane murderer who partially eats his victims; Jame Gumb, aka Buffalo Bill, the serial killer who skins his female victims; FBI agent-in-training Clarice Starling; and FBI agent Jack Crawford, Starling's supervisor. Underneath the surface action, the movie contains heavy symbolism and metaphor, which this analysis will expose.

Top left: Hannibal Lecter. Top right: Serial killer Buffalo Bill (Jame Gumb). Above left: FBI trainee Clarice Starling. Above right: Starling's supervisor, Jack Crawford.

Note that Jame Gumb's first name is word play on Jaime/Jamie, both of which can be the name of either a man or a woman; and his last name, Gumb, reminds one of chewing gum, which is placed in the mouth; Gumb places a moth cocoon in Benjamin Raspail's mouth, and in the mouth of one of his female victims as well.

Gumb's 'androgynous'-sounding first name functions as a reference to his gender identity confusion - he thinks he will have become a woman if he wears a 'suit' composed of women's skins. Shown at left is Gumb wearing an almost-completed suit of skin.

Gumb's skinning of his female victims reminds one of the shearing of sheep (i.e., lambs).

Regarding the act of silencing, recall that in a scene early in the movie, Lecter 'silences' fellow prisoner Miggs by making him swallow his own tongue, which results in Miggs' death. Also, Clarice relates to Lecter a story about how, as a child, she had tried to save a special lamb from being slaughtered by workers on the ranch she was living on at the time, by telling it to be quiet while she was running away with it, so that anyone who came looking for her would not hear the lamb and therefore not be able to find her.

Jack Crawford represents a father figure for Starling, in that he appears to her to be such. He assigns her to consult Lecter, to get information that will, hopefully, help the FBI apprehend Buffalo Bill.

a. Poster for The Silence Of The Lambs: The poster art copyright is believed to belong to the distributor of the film, Orion Pictures, the publisher of the film or the graphic artist.

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 8 of the analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 75: Wrapping up the analysis


Lecter in his Memphis cell.

Let us analyze the names of the two species of moths that are used in the movie, Acherontia styx and Acherontia atropos (as we will see later in the hidden plot thread, Benjamin Raspail's head actually contained a specimen of A. styx).

The Acheron is a river located in the Epirus region of northwest Greece. In ancient Greek mythology, Acheron was known as the river of pain, and was one of the rivers of the Greek underworld. In the Homeric poems the Acheron was described as a river of Hades.[a] The river Styx was a river in Greek mythology which formed the boundary between Earth and Hades. It circles the underworld nine times. Based on the foregoing, it makes sense for Gumb to have put Acherontia styx in Benjamin Raspail's head, since Gumb is Satan's pupil, and Satan resides in the underworld.

Atropos ("inexorable" or "inevitable", literally "unturning") was the cutter of the thread of life. She chose the manner of each person's death; and when their time was come, she cut their life-thread with her shears.[b] Going by this symbolism, it makes sense for Gumb to have placed Acherontia atropos in the mouth of one of his victims (that of the West Virginia girl), since he is tailoring (working with thread) to create the skin suit.

a. Wikipedia, 'Acheron'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Moirae'. Web, n.d. URL =

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 25 of the 'unified analysis' of the first three Hannibal Lecter movies.]

[UPDATE: The analysis of The Silence of the Lambs has been extended, in the 'unified analysis' of the first three Lecter movies.]


1) In certain instances it has been determined that the creators of some of the productions analyzed on this blog, and/or the creators of source material(s) used in the making of these productions, may be making negative statements about certain segments of society in their productions. These statements should be taken as expressing the opinions of no one other than the creators.

2) This blog is not associated with any of the studios, creators, authors, publishers, directors, actors, musicians, writers, editors, crew, staff, agents, or any other persons or entities involved at any stage in the making of any of the media productions or source materials that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced herein.

3) In keeping with the policies of the filmmakers, authors, studios, writers, publishers, and musicians, that have created the productions (and their source materials) that are analyzed, mentioned, or referenced on this blog, any similarity of the characters in these films or source materials to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


All images on this blog are used solely for non-commercial purposes of analysis, review, and critique.

All Wikipedia content on this blog, and any edits made to it, are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations - from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Augustine's Confessions and City of God from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica from the 'Logos Virtual Library' website (except where otherwise noted), compiled and edited by Darren L. Slider; believed to be in public domain.