DVD Rating: *****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Hannibal

Enormous effort has been made with this extras package, stretching into a second disc. The DVD is worth buying for Ridley Scott's commentary alone. As he talks you through the movie, it becomes apparent how beautifully made it is and what care he takes in the creative process. I begin to hate myself for what I wrote in my review. Scott's commitment to his craft cannot be underestimated.

The credits were designed and shot by a student with a video camera in Florence. The fish market sequence at the beginning, when Clarice Starling leads the bungled ambush of drug dealers, was filmed over five days on a set in a parking lot under a freeway. Scott wonders whether it was necessary at all. He considers violence "a cheap alternative", but the scene sets the story right for Starling's feeling of injustice when she is scapegoated by the Bureau later.

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Scott worried about whether to disguise Lecter (see review), but decided against it. "I didn't want Tony walking around with a fake nose." He has nothing but praise for Jodie Foster's replacement, Julianne Moore. "She is a great researcher. She had a female agent with her at all times."

We learn during The Making Of Hannibal that she was Hopkins's choice for the role, once Foster had declined because of another film she was due to direct. Martha De Laurentiis, one of the producers, considered many famous and less famous names, such as Cate Blanchett, Hilary Swank and Angelina Jolie.

Talking of actors, Ray Liotta was offered his part after bumping into Scott at the gym. "He can play with humour," Scott says. "Actors must have fun when they're doing it."

I could write pages about how wonderful this commentary is, but there's so much else. The Making Of Hannibal has fascinating interviews with the producers, the actors, the special effects guys and the animal trainer who taught the hogs to eat people. Gary Oldman reveals that his makeup for Verger took five hours to put on. The men who invented his mutilated visage recalls that they had "twenty different heads. Everything looked like a zombie."

You watch preparations for what Scott calls "the hardest scene in the film", when Hopkins takes off the top of Liotta's scalp before the last supper. "I had a brain surgeon present," as if that made any difference to the audience reaction. Also, Scott explains one of the mysteries of the movie, how Lecter escapes at the end. Pity he didn't show it on screen.

Surprisingly, shockingly even, the extras are better than the film, which makes you want to go back to it and rediscover what you misjudged first time around.

Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2001
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Hannibal packshot
We catch up with Lecter, ten years after the lambs fell silent.
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Product Code: UDR90121

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1

Extras: Director commentary, deleted scenes, two hour making-of, trailers and other goodies.

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