Tag Archives: hannibal lecter

Red Dragon (2002)

reddragon_bornunicorn (1)reddragon_bornunicorn (2)reddragon_bornunicorn (3)reddragon_bornunicorn (4)Has anyone ever listed the ways Dr. Lecter hates Old Spice after-shave? The popular shaving lotion is mentioned in the 1981 novel by Thomas Harris and ever since. All the Hannibals we’ve seen on tv or on the silver screen have expressed their hatred for it: the one played by Brian Cox in Manhunter (1985) by Michael Mann, Anthony Hopkins in the 2002 film and Mads Mikkelsen in the NBC tv show.

oldspiceaftershavelotion_bornunicornFor such a refined character, Old Spice is a symbol of uncouthness and carelessness. “Something a child would select,” the doctor remarks with what I think is a pinch of envy: Will has a family; someone who loves him always selects this perfume for him, even if it’s atrocious, something that Lecter will never experience.

Hannibal S01E05 (Coquilles)

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hannibal_s01e05_jar_bornunicorn (4)Bella Crawford (Gina Torres) is a very elegant woman, so no wonder she wears an “exquisite” and exclusive perfume. Dr. Lecter’s description is a clear reference to its name: it’s “similar to the aroma on the air just after lightning strikes,” an elaborate nod to JAR Bolt of Lightning.

jar_boltoflightining_bornunicornCreated by Joel Arthur Rosenthal and launched in 2001, it features tuberose and green notes. JAR perfumes are famous for not containing “the typical top, middle, and base notes,” as explained on the WGSN Insider blog. “Rather, they blend together for an unpredictable release. The Bolt of Lightning fragrance takes 10 minutes to develop on the skin.”

Hannibal S01E10 (Buffet Froid)

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hannibal_s01e10_bornunicorn (4)Will Graham’s (induced) hallucinations and seizures are caused by encephalitis: this results from a brain scan he’s undergoing, but Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) already knows it. He explains Dr. Sutcliffe (John Benjamin Hickey) he “could smell it”.

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hannibal_s01e10_bornunicorn (6)Dr. Sutcliffe is a former colleague of Hannibal’s and remembers he was able to call out a nurse’s perfume, but he couldn’t imagine now he can diagnose an autoimmune disease by the smell only.

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hannibal_s01e10_bornunicorn (10)He’s curious and asks Hannibal what the “specific scent” of encephalitis is like. Hannibal’s description is terrifying, yet intriguing: this disease “has heat” and a “fevered sweetness”. I personally connect such a description with fruity fragrances, especially those with peach as a dominant note. What perfumes do you think could match this description?

Hannibal S03E09 (And the Woman Clothed with the Sun…)

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This conversation between Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) focuses on the sense of smell. They actually had similar conversations in the first and in the second seasons: the topic is always Will’s “atrocious after-shave”, “something with a ship on the bottle”, that is Old Spice.

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This time there’s something different, though: Hannibal doesn’t know what has happened in Will’s life after their adventure at Muskrat Farm, but his exceptional sense of smell gives him an idea. “Beneath that shaving lotion” he can smell “dogs” (obviously), “pine” (Will lives in a house in the woods) and “oil”. Furthermore, he comments on the person who has possibly given him the after-shave as a gift: a child. Hannibal is right again: Will now lives with Molly and Willy, her son from a previous marriage.

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The last part of the conversation is heart-breaking: he tries to uncover Will’s desire to see him again, to “get that old scent again”, but the apparent lack of reaction from Will brings out the spiteful “Why don’t you just smell yourself?”, with which Hannibal emphasizes their similarities, even if Will is not ready to admit it yet.

Hannibal S01E05 (Coquilles)

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hannibal_didyoujustsmellme_bornunicorn (3)Dr. Hannibal Lecter has a talent for identifying what perfumes people wear. The jailed version of the character in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs detects Evyan White Shoulders body lotion and Nina Ricci L’air du temps on Clarice Starling, while his bon vivant version (Mads Mikkelsen) in the tv show by Bryan Fuller smells “something with a ship on the bottle” on Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Smelling someone and commenting on his/her perfume is a very intimate action; when it comes from a jailed serial killer or from your psychiatrist, it becomes an intrusion into your privacy.

oldspiceaftershavelotion_bornunicornThe after-shave Will wears is obviously the classic Old Spice, which Hannibal loathes (this opinion is reinforced in an episode from the second season). Hannibal says he should introduce Will to a “finer after-shave”, which makes me wonder what after-shave he wears and what he would suggest Will to wear. Any thoughts?

Gif source.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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thesilenceofthelambs_bornunicorn (3)This is one of the most famous scenes from the Jonathan Demme film – the first time in which Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) and Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) meet. His reaction to her presence is eerie: there’s a thick perspex surface separating the two characters, but he is able to detect, through the holes in the perspex, what she smells like. He smells “Evyan skin cream”; he also realizes she sometimes wears Nina Ricci L’air du temps, “but not today”.

evyanwhiteshoulderslotion_bornunicornLet’s focus on the first product for a moment: the script spells it “Evyan”, not “Evian”, so Thomas Harris (the author of the Hannibal saga) was referring to a perfumed body lotion, not to a French mineral water-based product. By “Evyan” I believe he was referring to the American brand’s most famous perfume, White Shoulders. Originally launched in 1945, it is a triumph of white flowers: it includes notes of gardenia, jasmine, lily of the valley, orange flower and tuberose. Since he mentions L’air du temps soon after, I think it’s natural for him to talk about two perfumes, not about a (probably scentless) face moisturizer and a perfume.


The second reference is pretty clear: Clarice sometimes wears the iconic perfume by Nina Ricci, created by Francis Fabron and released in 1948, a symbol of innocence (see the beautiful doves on the stopper). Among its middle notes, we can find jasmine and gardenia, so can we assume Clarice loves white floral perfumes?