This study proposes that the television series Hannibal (Fuller 2013-2015), with its aesthetic and thematic emphasis on Christian motifs and imagery, is a contemporary apocalyptic fiction. Specifically, this study argues that Hannibal provides a new typology: the metamythic apocalypse narrative. To posit these arguments, I approach the analysis of the television text from four of the stronger concepts that surface in the reading of Hannibal, which are the relationship between cannibalism and divinity, the God-Devil opposition, the We(i)ndigo figure as a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and the Apocalyptic narrative. The first three concepts inform the typology of apocalyptic narrative that the series follows and are essential in establishing the criteria for this new typology.
Insofar as existing television tropes and conventions go, the first two seasons of Hannibal remain in the vicinity of investigative police procedure, building and perfecting its mythos around the passive- aggressive relationship between Lecter and his prodigy, FBI profiling consultant Will Graham. The procedural formalities are set aside in season three, to focus on and amplify an already ambivalent relationship with religion, providing a wealth of apocalyptic symbolism that calls the rest of the series into the new framework of apocalyptic fiction.
This study establishes that Hannibal provides a new apocalyptic narrative typology that challenges the two typologies identified by Conrad Ostwalt (2011:365-356) – the traditional apocalypse and the secular apocalypse. The traditional apocalypse allows for fictionalized events, but includes elements of supernatural (or divine) revelation. The secular apocalypse borrows symbols and themes from the traditional apocalypse, but contemporizes evil and does not adhere to the criterion of a divine agency, positing human heroism as the anthropocentric replacement for God and averting punishment and destruction. Hannibal’s (Fuller 2013-2015) particular symbolic visual vocabulary and the apocalyptic narrative typologies outlined by Ostwalt (2011) allows me to theorise the notion of the metamythic apocalypse narrative.
In establishing this new form of apocalypse narrative, I interrogate the role of the We(i)ndigo figure as Hannibal’s reconstitution of the Christian Holy Trinity and demonstrate visually how these three characters constitute this trinity – Dr Hannibal Lecter (Holy Father), Will Graham (Holy Son), and Abigail Hobbs (Holy Spirit). This metamythic apocalypse narrative engages the current secular scientific concern for the end of the world, which remains haunted by religious prophecy. The metamythic apocalypse proposes a return to the symbolic and the archetypal in answering questions about the future amidst the anxieties about the end of the world, as well as the possibility of the post- apocalyptic.
Keywords: Hannibal; cannibalism; We(i)ndigo; apocalypse narrative; metamythic apocalypse; symbolism; Holy Trinity
Dissertation (MA (Drama and Film Studies))--University of Pretoria, 2019.