[Movie] Manhunter (1986)

  • Title: Manhunter
  • Directed By: Michael Mann
  • Based on: the novel “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris
  • Cast: William Petersen, Kim Greist, Joan Allen, Brian Cox

And Lecktor told me something: “If one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is.” You put it together, you get: If our boy imitates being wanted and desired enough times, he believes he will become one who is wanted and desired and accepted. It’ll all come true.

from the movie

Manhunter is a neo-noir psychological crime thriller based on the 1981 novel “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris.

The film is the precursor of future crime movies and TV dramas based on stylish agents or crime investigation teams such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and XFiles. It is interesting to see that CSI’s Gil Grissom (William Petersen) plays a role as an FBI profiler who uses forensic science as the main tool in a criminal investigation in the film. The film sets the future of an actor!

Despite its huge influence on future crime dramas, the film itself is mediocre. The overly stylish directing does not create any thrilling impact on the crimes. Actually, the stylish visual distracts the progress of the plot. The forensic investigation and the talk with Dr. Hannibal Lecktor are good points to attract the viewer’s attention. But in the latter half of the film, any remaining charm is lost, and the film becomes just annoying.

Music, which is explicitly diegetic, dominates the film. The typical 80’s songs are too direct but deliver no implications of the scene. Music goes in its own way, and the film moves in a different direction. Maybe, it is how the directing can be done in the postmodern era.

The best part of the movie can be how the main character Will Graham, FBI profiler, acts, thinks, and behaves as the investigation progresses. Viewers notice how similar the mind of a profiler works to that of a criminal. A criminal wants to be a God in a way, and so does Will Graham. They act very similarly based on their desire. One kills victims, and another kills a criminal. But what is the difference?

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