The murders and the locations have all been talked about, though, so I feel like we need to talk about the gaze.
Do you know what the cinematographers of NBC’s Hannibal have done? They have reversed the Male Gaze. Now, that does not mean that they use the Female Gaze. Far from it, actually.
So let’s talk about it.
I have not made any of these gifs. OPs are linked underneath each one.
WHAT IS THE MALE GAZE?
The Male Gaze became most prominent when photography became popular. It is the way of portraying women so that it is pleasurable to men, and that is usually in a sexual way. This is why in many movies and shows, you will see slow pans across a woman’s body, even if she is fully clothed, but the men are introduced with either their entire body or with their faces in moving shots. This woman will usually be the lead actor’s love interest. Now these movies and shows are actually seen by women, so they have to include the Female Gaze as well.
SO THEN WHAT IS THE FEMALE GAZE?
The Female Gaze is drastically different than the Male Gaze. It is more like throwing women (and gay men!) a bone, the way it’s done. It is achieved through moving, full bodied shots of topless men. That is basically it.
This way, men are not forced to look at something sexualized of other men, but women can look at it in that way if they so wish.
I won’t talk about sex scenes, though, because that is just a whole other discussion.
NOW HOW DOES NBC’S HANNIBAL REVERSE THIS?
Simple. The cinematography shows slow pans and zooms on parts of the male actors’ bodies. Some scenes are shot in a way that it seems sexualized, even when the action the character is doing is not erotic at all. From Hannibal cooking in his kitchen
to Matt Brown’s appearance at the pool
to Will and Hannibal eating the flaming birds
I mean, even when Hannibal is bleeding to death, we see a slow pan up from his feet.
And this is something that we are definitely not used to.
BUT HEY, WHAT ABOUT THE MEN WATCHING?
You’re right. Let’s throw them a bone.
I really don’t think you guys understand how significant this change in cinematography is. We wonder why there are scenes that seem sexual when they shouldn’t be, but that’s all there on purpose. If the cinematography had been conventional, then a dimension of this show would be lost, especially in the relationship between Will and Hannibal. We are able to get hints of their love for another without the need of other characters mistaking them for a couple or for there to be awkward moments between them. So much is in simply the way everything is shown.
And it is not just significant in the context of the show itself. This changes the way men and women watch the show. Men are not able to objectify women in the way they could in most other shows, and women in contrast are viewing men sexually without sexual references, and so the roles have been reversed. I read somewhere that they had to put sex scenes in the second season so that the show would attract more male viewers. I mean, that was really the only way they could do it, really. Men wouldn’t be able to sexualize women on this show unless the women are actually having sex. The cinematography doesn’t allow it.