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Friday February 23rd 2024

Hannibal | 2001

Hannibal location, Biltmore House, North Carolina
Hannibal location: Mason Verger’s estate: Biltmore House, North Carolina | Photograph: the Biltmore Estate

I had initial reservations about Ridley Scott jettisoning the procedural authenticity of Silence of the Lambs for a more ‘operatic’ approach, which threatened to turn the terrifying psychopath into a loveable wisecracker. The more melodramatic material, though, justifies the elaborately Baroque visuals and seductive music score.

Much of the film was shot around Richmond, Virginia. The ‘fishmarket’ site of the shoot-out with Evelda Drumgo (Hazelle Goodman), was a set built on a parking lot behind the Canal Club under the freeways at the renovated, former industrial Shockoe Bottom in Richmond (and don’t worry – the blood-spattered baby was animatronic).

The house of Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) is on Park Avenue, Richmond, and the cluttered basement in which she works – and Lecter’s cell – used Richmond’s old Virginia State Library on Capitol Square at 11th Street.

The home of Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta) is at North Harrison Street and Grove Avenue, near Virginia Commonwealth University. The finale, with the ravenous hogs, was filmed in barns on the Montpelier Estate, former home of James Madison, fourth President of the USA, four miles south of Orange, Virginia (don’t confuse the location with the town of Montpelier located on Route 33, outside of Richmond).

The vast estate of vengeful Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) is Biltmore House on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore House itself is a 255-room French Renaissance-style chateau, built in the 1890s for the Vanderbilt family. It was designed by Richard Hunt Morris, whose other claim to fame on the design front is the plinth for the Statue of Liberty. The house contains the Vanderbilts’ collection of paintings, and it’s open to the public. It’s on Route 25, three blocks north from Route 40. You can also seen in Hal Ashby’s satire Being There.

Hannibal location, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Hannibal location: Pazzi is hanged – “Bowels in or bowels out?”: Palazzo Vecchio, Florence | Photograph: iStockphoto/Ogen Perry

Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), meanwhile, is lying low, as ‘Dr Fell’, in Florence, Italy, where he lives and works in the library of the Palazzo Capponi, via dei Bardi 36. Avaricious cop Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) spies on Fell as he sips coffee in a cafe on Piazza della Republica, and the doctor is spotted on security cameras as he buys hand cream at the Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella, via delle Scala 16.

Pazzi buys a silver bracelet (on which to collect Lecter’s fingerprints) on the Ponte Vecchio, over the River Arno. It’s beneath the Loggia del Mercato Nuovo that Lecter foils (and, naturally, guts) the pickpocket, and that Pazzi washes the blood from his hands in the wild boar fountain, Il Porcellino.

The opera (which was written specially for the film) was staged, coincidentally, in the courtyard of the Pazzi Chapel, next to the monastery of Santa Croce. The square with the monumental sculptures is, of course, Piazza della Signoria (seen also in the rather different A Room With A View) overshadowed by the Palazzo Vecchio. Although the interior of the Palazzo was reconstructed in a warehouse just outside Florence, it is the real exterior from which the unfortunate Pazzi is ejected: “Bowels in or bowels out?”.

Hannibal location, Union Station, Washington DC
Hannibal location: Clarice follows Hannibal’s trail to the station: Union Station, Washington D.C. | Photograph: flickr/Sam Ruaat

Back in the USA, the carousel, where Lecter gives himself away with the merest touch of Clarice’s hair, was in Washington D.C.’s beautifully restored Union Station, Massachusetts Avenue NE between First and Second Streets. A grand railroad station dating from 1907, it closed in 1968, only to reopen in 1988 as a combined transport hub, museum, exhibition centre and retail mall. It’s also the scene of the chase in The Recruit, with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell) and is briefly glimpsed in Exorcist II: The Heretic.