Contemporary Contextualization: Mozart’s Requiem in Pop Culture Television
Part 2: Hannibal, Season 1, Episode 7, “Sorbet”
“Hannibal” transversed boundaries in television no one had come close to touching. The series itself can only be described as an artwork. The creators blend cleverly cutting dialogue with earnest and honest characters contained in exacting costumes and framed by lavish sets, and yet all the meticulous creation builds to show the audience a mirror of their darkest, secret desires. The show builds upon the grotesque artistry precedented a dozen years previous by Silence of the Lambs, while tapping into contemporary discourses of religion, medically-assisted suicide, and untraditional “found” families.
Classical music is used throughout the series. While most television series reserve the grandiose sound of a full orchestra for large dramatic climaxes, Hannibal uses well-known classical pieces as pointed motifs of the titular character, often laying an audiophile subtext into the nondiegetic storytelling. “Lacrymosa” is played at the near halfway point of the first season. Much of the dialogue of “Sorbet” revolves around the idea of friendship–being a friend to someone, or the lonely, “painful” state of friendlessness. The choir beseeches a nameless entity as Hannibal paces in a darkened, empty room, waiting for his patient and colleague Will Graham to arrive for an appointment. The song ends and we see Hannibal breaking his normal pattern of behaviour to seek Will out, confront him about his absence, and their conversation flows into a volleying of words, a verbal repartee about Hannibal’s most-wanted alter ego, the Chesapeake Ripper. This moment elevates the relationship of Hannibal and Will Graham from hunter and prey to something more complex, as the dialogue and plot suggests a type of agapé love to be building between the two. In some respects, “Lacrymosa” marks the death of the singularly-motivated Hannibal. The relationship of the Hannibal and Will is indelible altered from this point onward, and their interactions and intimacy increasingly drive the story as the series progresses through its three seasons.