“Have you ever seen blood in the moonlight, Will? It appears quite black.”
One of the best directed thrillers around. Manhunter isn’t so much interested in extraneous details of how characters came to be, filling information gaps with the nuance of a Criminal Minds episode but rather interested in the psychological weights of pure empathy.
Empathy is key to Mann’s artistic motivation, always making sure we understand where all the players stand in the story. In Manhunter, empathy is at the forefront. The lines between understanding and becoming begin folding over as Will Graham goes back for the always popular “one last job.” The problem is this job nearly cost him his life and his sanity.
How Manhunter isn’t #aesthetic #goals plastered on every corner of tumblr is odd to me. Framing is perfectly situated between astute and unsettling. Colors are vibrant and haunting. That’s okay, film twitter can carry the weight of appreciation, even if it still doesn’t quite feel like enough. Take a look at any image by itself and its perfect for the ONE.PERFECT.SHOT. canon but in the full film it all contributes to the alien nature of Graham’s worldview. It’s calculated but flushed with life, ripe for the taking and worth everything to protect. Graham fights to retain his humanity in attempt to stop a murderer who has none… Or so he thinks.
Again, Mann’s empathy extends even to Francis “The Toothfairy” Dolarhyde. He’s a mass murderer who stuffs shards of glass into the eyes of his victims but finds solace in a blind woman, Reba McClane. All Dolarhyde wants is to be seen, someone to witness his becoming. But with Reba, he sees as an olive branch. An avenue of possible redemption or escape. His story is one of tragedy as much as it is of terror.
Graham and Dolarhyde don’t meet until the climax of the film. Dialogue is never exchanged between the two. Yet, the two have been put on a collision course, each their struggles with empathy. How they deal with it couldn’t be anymore different and in classic Mann fashion, the duality can only leave one of them whole.