196 words about Manhunter
Mann’s Manhunter is famous for being a double genesis: not only was it the film that introduced us to the now-famous characters of Hannibal Lector and Will Graham, it was, in its methodical, vaguely erotic on-screen analysis of crime scenes and forensic evidence, the template for CSI (which featured Manhunter star William Peterson) and any number of other small-screen procedural dramas—including Hannibal, the hallucinatory NBC series that reunited the two threads. As an entry in Mann’s oeuvre, however, Manhunter is perhaps most distinctive for its early mastery of lighting. That’s not saying enough: the film is a veritable hall of mirrors, stacking scene after scene with reflections and reflection on reflections. The tracked killer rearranges bodies to give himself an audience; “everything with you,” says his tracker, “is seeing.” Mann himself articulates scenes not so much according to plot or character but by color: blue for Will Graham’s peaceful home life, blinding white for Hannibal’s cell, green for both the killer and his blind victim. “If you don’t open your eyes,” says the killer to one of his victims before setting him aflame, “I’ll staple your eyelids to your forehead.” The message is received; we watch.