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Backrow Baptist

Manhunter

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I couldn't find a dedicated thread on this so here goes. Talking about Stray Dog got me thinking about Michael Mann's Manhunter again. The film was based on the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Silence of the Lambs would come next. Hannibal Lecter (spelled "Lecktor" here) makes his first appearance, played here in a less showy but still brilliant performance by Brian Cox. Manhunter has been one of those films I keep coming back to. Mann was really starting to come into his own with what's now his signature style after Thief and this. The interest in determined, professional men of action in the midst of an existential crisis, the way he uses the camera (back when he actually shot on film), music, etc. Mann spends as much time focusing on FBI Agent Will Graham's audio recorder and case file as he does on the guns. I won't spend alot of time talking about Brett Ratner's Red Dragon other than to say you should see it to compare and contrast two film makers using the same book as a starting point and ending up with completely different films. Both films were shot by the same DP, Dante Spinotti.

I happen to love the 80's style on display here. I've got the soundtrack on my iPod. I don't really buy the criticism that the film is no good because the 80's style makes it feel "dated". It's an 80's film and it shows. I don't see anything wrong with that unless you just don't like that style. The fans of Easy Rider don't care that it's style is rooted in the 60's. It's a 60's film. Saturday Night Fever is a 70's film. And so on.

Where the symbol of innocence in Silence of the Lambs is represented by ... well, lambs, Manhunter gives us sea turtles. Graham and his son are building wire fences for the sea turtles on the beach by their house. (Mann has a thing for water.) Graham explains to his son that they need the fences to keep out predators. Graham knows there are dangerous people out there and that thinking like them can mess with you. He tells his son that thinking like them made him "feel bad". We know Graham is talking about letting Dr. Lektor get in his head. He tells his son that he suffered from "the ugliest thoughts in the world". In 1986 no one used the expression "Psychological Profiler".

Here's what I said in the Stray Dog thread.

Full disclosure now. I'm a police officer and I was a "Murakami" (Mifune's rookie character in Stray Dog) my first few years on the job. Some of the criminals I've arrested over the years have stuck with me for this reason. Very few of the cases I've worked involved people who were pure evil. Don't get me wrong. This is not the same thing as saying they are not responsible and do not need to be arrested if they committed a crime. I've always liked William Peterson's/ Will Graham's line from Manhunter "As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult... as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfill some sick fantasy. As an adult, I think someone should blow the sick f--- out of his socks.". (For some reason Michael Mann cut that line from later versions of the film. It's only in the true theatrical version.) Except for the "irredeemable" part this pretty much sums up how I view violent criminals. They may have lost their innocence and no I'm probably not going to have them over for dinner, but I can chose to treat them with kindness and I know God's grace is still available to them. It's my job to be "wise/shrewd as a serpent and innocent as a dove".

Edited by Backrow Baptist

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I've always wanted to like MANHUNTER. It has a lot going for it stylistically--it's a sleek film, for sure--but I find it somewhat inert. MANHUNTER lacks intimacy, and intimacy is precisely what Harris' terrific novel thrived on.

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I've always wanted to like MANHUNTER. It has a lot going for it stylistically--it's a sleek film, for sure--but I find it somewhat inert. MANHUNTER lacks intimacy, and intimacy is precisely what Harris' terrific novel thrived on.

I feel the need to throw a party. Ryan and I actually agree on something.

Not to pick on you, BB, as I actually really appreciated your post, personal stuff included. It's just me and Mann, me and Mann.

I got lucky with Miami Vice recently. It had a nick in the DVD, and at about forty minutes in, it wouldn't play past that point.

Edited by Persona

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I've always wanted to like MANHUNTER. It has a lot going for it stylistically--it's a sleek film, for sure--but I find it somewhat inert. MANHUNTER lacks intimacy, and intimacy is precisely what Harris' terrific novel thrived on.

I feel the need to throw a party. Ryan and I actually agree on something.

Not to pick on you, BB, as I actually really appreciated your post, personal stuff included. It's just me and Mann, me and Mann.

I got lucky with Miami Vice recently. It had a nick in the DVD, and at about forty minutes in, it wouldn't play past that point.

No offense taken. If you've read my other posts you already know I'm President of the Michael Mann Sycophants Club. B)

I'm sure I don't do the best job articulating why I respond to Mann's films. I just know it's a universe/ worldview I respond to. Compare Mann with someone like Joe Carnahan (Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane; Narc; Smokin' Aces). Where Mann's films come across as serious and existential to me, Carnahan's seem just plain cynical and depressing. Even Smokin' Aces which was supposed to be a fun, insane, action movie had this nihilistic tone about it that detracted from the good time I was supposed to be having.

I don't just mean the violence and who dies and who doesn't. Even Carnahan's dialogue and plot points portray a universe where life is ultimately meaningless.(That being said, I'm looking forward to Carnahan's A-Team movie to see what he does with it. The guy can direct action.)Mann's universe however, seems to be one where honor, professionalism, communication, and most importantly, choices all matter. Like I've said elsewhere, maybe I'm filling in the blanks for Mann, but to me that is a universe where a loving but disappointed God is watching.

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I'm sure I don't do the best job articulating why I respond to Mann's films. I just know it's a universe/ worldview I respond to.

I am right there with you. I think this is the same universe I respond to in good detective fiction as well. It is a world with sharp moral angles, and people who have to make choices in spite of this. And on top of that, there is something beautifully straightforward about Mann. I remember hearing someone talk about the fact that they loved 80s pop music not because it has withstood the test of time, but because it was so earnest. (This is why I like the first two Miami Vice seasons. It is earnest, completely unironic storytelling. There aren't many people like Mann. The guy can direct a Miami Vice remake that is completely ignorant of how uncool Miami Vice became in terms of cultural capital. Collateral is crippled by script problems, but Miami Vice sure isn't.)

Manhunter works so well because it is every bit as earnest as Harris' prose. Mann decides to wrap whatever it is that energizes Dollarhyde in a veneer of flat angles and minimalist spaces, but when Will literally shatters these in the end, this all pans out in a stunning way.

We have another thread on Harris around here somewhere, but I am not sure where it went.

Edited by M. Leary

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A 25th anniversary presentation of Manhunter will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday March 19th, 7:30 pm, with Michael Mann leading a discussion of this work and others after the film. I just bought my tickets.

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A 25th anniversary presentation of Manhunter will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday March 19th, 7:30 pm, with Michael Mann leading a discussion of this work and others after the film. I just bought my tickets.

So ... What did you think? Which version did they show?

I went online and found the video of the Q&A after the screening. Found it disappointing. I didn't hear Mann share much that isn't on the Manhunter DVDs. I was hoping for some word on a stand alone blu-ray will all the extras and different versions, similar to the Brazil and Blade Runner box sets.

Edited by Backrow Baptist

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Collateral is crippled by script problems, but Miami Vice sure isn't.

Perhaps not script problems of the same egregiousness, but MIAMI VICE's script has some significant failings.

Manhunter works so well because it is every bit as earnest as Harris' prose.

Mann decides to wrap whatever it is that energizes Dollarhyde in a veneer of flat angles and minimalist spaces, but when Will literally shatters these in the end, this all pans out in a stunning way.

This is the finest aspect of MANHUNTER. Nevertheless I find the film too cold and distant to truly admire. I never come to care for these characters and their struggles, and without that connection, that intimacy, the devastatingly haunting quality of Harris' novel is lost, and I'm not sure MANHUNTER's aesthetic offerings make sufficient compensation.

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A 25th anniversary presentation of Manhunter will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday March 19th, 7:30 pm, with Michael Mann leading a discussion of this work and others after the film. I just bought my tickets.

So ... What did you think? Which version did they show?

I went online and found the video of the Q&A after the screening. Found it disappointing. I didn't hear Mann share much that isn't on the Manhunter DVDs. I was hoping for some word on a stand alone blu-ray will all the extras and different versions, similar to the Brazil and Blade Runner box sets.

It was one of the most pristine prints I've seen of any film. It was the original theatrical version - with the line, "Someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks" retained (someone mentioned that line isn't in the DVD print). I originally saw this in theatres in 1986 at a preview hosted by the radio station I worked for at the time. For me, it still retains the same intensity now that it did then.

As for the interview (which I cannot find anywhere - please post a link), I too was disappointed. Mainly because the interviewer asked all of the questions that the audience was probably wanting to ask.

The actual highlight of the evening for me (other than the film) was a chat I had with the person sitting next to me. His name was Darwin Green, and it turns out he is the son of screenwriter Walon Green, who wrote the screenplays to The Wild Bunch and Sorcerer. Apparently there were several studios vying for the rights to Red Dragon, and several screenplays commissioned for several directors. Walon Green worked on one of these screenplays, along with its potential director David Lynch. I can only imagine what Lynch might have done with this material - probably would have delved more deeply into Dolarhyde's relationship with his mother and grandmother.

Edited by Baal_T'shuvah

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A 25th anniversary presentation of Manhunter will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on Saturday March 19th, 7:30 pm, with Michael Mann leading a discussion of this work and others after the film. I just bought my tickets.

So ... What did you think? Which version did they show?

I went online and found the video of the Q&A after the screening. Found it disappointing. I didn't hear Mann share much that isn't on the Manhunter DVDs. I was hoping for some word on a stand alone blu-ray will all the extras and different versions, similar to the Brazil and Blade Runner box sets.

It was one of the most pristine prints I've seen of any film. It was the original theatrical version - with the line, "Someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks" retained (someone mentioned that line isn't in the DVD print). I originally saw this in theatres in 1986 at a preview hosted by the radio station I worked for at the time. For me, it still retains the same intensity now that it did then.

As for the interview (which I cannot find anywhere - please post a link), I too was disappointed. Mainly because the interviewer asked all of the questions that the audience was probably wanting to ask.

The actual highlight of the evening for me (other than the film) was a chat I had with the person sitting next to me. His name was Darwin Green, and it turns out he is the son of screenwriter Walon Green, who wrote the screenplays to The Wild Bunch and Sorcerer. Apparently there were several studios vying for the rights to Red Dragon, and several screenplays commissioned for several directors. Walon Green worked on one of these screenplays, along with its potential director David Lynch. I can only imagine what Lynch might have done with this material - probably would have delved more deeply into Dolarhyde's relationship with his mother and grandmother.

I recently watched the blu-ray which is available as a part of the Hannibal Lecter trilogy (even though it's spelled "Lecktor" in Manhunter for legal reasons"), and it's the original theatrical print. I'm amazed that line was dropped from previous DVDs, as it is perhaps the single most significant line in the film.

The visuals in this film are breathtaking, and I think Brian Cox is a better Lecter than Hopkins. I always liked this film which I'd seen on VHS and DVD, but I LOVE it now after watching this new blu-ray. I think this and The Insider are my favorites of Michael Mann's films. The willingness of a man to tap into his own sociopathology to catch a sociopathic murderer is such a fascinating character study, and Mann tells the story with such beauty and deliberateness. But to be clear, I was never really that crazy about it until seeing the blu-ray, which sounds like it is closer to the print than previous home video/DVD releases.

Edited by Scott Derrickson

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The willingness of a man to tap into his own sociopathology to catch a sociopathic murderer is such a fascinating character study

It is. Alas, one of my great disappointments with MANHUNTER is that it does so little with that notion.

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I recently watched the blu-ray which is available as a part of the Hannibal Lecter trilogy (even though it's spelled "Lecktor" in Manhunter for legal reasons"), and it's the original theatrical print. I'm amazed that line was dropped from previous DVDs, as it is perhaps the single most significant line in the film.

The visuals in this film are breathtaking, and I think Brian Cox is a better Lecter than Hopkins. I always liked this film which I'd seen on VHS and DVD, but I LOVE it now after watching this new blu-ray. I think this and The Insider are my favorites of Michael Mann's films. The willingness of a man to tap into his own sociopathology to catch a sociopathic murderer is such a fascinating character study, and Mann tells the story with such beauty and deliberateness. But to be clear, I was never really that crazy about it until seeing the blu-ray, which sounds like it is closer to the print than previous home video/DVD releases.

I'm still holding out hope for that stand alone special edition blu-ray. I've read mixed reviews on that Hannibal Lecter Anthology, but I'm really tempted now after reading your comments.

Without endorsing Neitzsche, I'm reminded of the famous line "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.". Real life FBI profiler John Douglas made that the title of his book about hunting serial killers. Great book btw.

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