“Manhunter” (1986) has been one of my favourite films since long before “Silence Of The Lambs” struck the worldwide audience with it’s geniocity. I haven’t seen “Hannibal” but I was too curious about “Red Dragon” to let it go unseen. As you probably know “Red Dragon” is a new filming of the first book of Thomas Harris about our lovely Hannibal and friends. Also you can say that it is a remake of “Manhunter” which was probably regarded not good enough or didn’t have the best actors in it or something, I don’t know. “Red Dragon” has a whole line of big actors, of course including Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal. “Red Dragon” is quite like “Manhunter” but put more in a popular horror and especially “Silence Of The Lambs”-manner. Far too much! There are a few differences between the two films. The killer wears his ‘head-cloth’ at home in “Red Dragon” and when he kidnaps Freddy Lounds in “Manhunter”. The killer is better-looking and a body-builder in “Red Dragon”. There is much much more stress on the painter/poet William Blake in “Red Dragon”. The killer is even a Blake-expert in the new version. Worst of all, in “Red Dragon” the killer has a gigantic Blake-tattoo on his back and he is controlled by his red dragon, while this is not the case in “Manhunter”. A smaller detail, the scene in which Will Graham’s wife and child are picked up is a lot better in “Manhunter”.
In general, “Manhunter” is a lot better than this popular new version. The atmosphere is better, the music more original (Iron Butterfly instead of classical music), the actors are a lot better (I can’t help finding the FBI agent played by Edward Norton to be quite wimpy, the killer and the blind woman in “Manhunter” are much more convincing, etc., etc.). And what is really the shittiest thing about “Red Dragon” is that the end is the beginning of “Silence Of The Lambs”.
I suggest: watch the original!.