Hannibal Rising

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Hannibal Rising Movie Poster Image
Bloody prequel traces serial killer's origins.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Trauma during WWII produces Hannibal the Cannibal; his fierce Trauma during WWII produces Hannibal the Cannibal; his fierce fixation on vengeance leads to serial murder and decapitation; though he understands he is "wrong," he persists.


Brutal violence and bloody results. Wartime explosions, shooting, fires. Children witness their mother's fatal injury in an explosion, and their father is shot dead in front of them. An SS officer is shot in the head; wolves eat dead parents; Grutas eats a bird, showing his bloody mouth; Grutas threatens children with hatchet; villains eat little sister (off-screen, but fragmented memory repeats throughout, with screams and disturbing images); stabbings with forks, knives, swords; martial arts with poles; bloody wound stitched in close-up; several decapitations; repeated references to losing families in war; villain is squeezed to death by rope (blood splats on Hannibal's face, and he tastes it); Hannibal drowns a man; Grutas shoots Hannibal and another character; fight includes burning hand on stovetop; head is stabbed from chin through the top (seen from back); man squished between boat and dock (end is off-screen); Hannibal stabs villain's legs repeatedly, carves "M" in his chest, then eats his cheeks.


Sexual attraction between Hannibal and his aunt by marriage (brief, passionate kiss between them); verbal references to Lady Murasaki's "p--y" Grutas keeps a sex slave and forces her to bathe him in a tub; he appears out of the tub with a towel around his waist; Grutas licks Lady Murasaki's face, then puts his finger near her crotch and straddles her on a chair (very ugly threat of rape).


"F--k," "hell," "bitch," and sexual slang ("p--y," "d--k"). Disparagement of a Jew.


Hennessey Cognac sign.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters smoke cigarettes frequently; villains (including Hannibal) drink liquor and wine.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this bloody Silence of the Lambs prequel isn't for kids. Since it's about the "birth" of famously evil character Hannibal the Cannibal, it's no surprise that it's all about brutality (usually involving swords and knives) and cannibalism. Other violent scenes include wartime shootings and explosions, stabbings, decapitations (heads are prominently displayed and bloody), and a drowning (a man is locked in a hospital corpse tank). Villains also drink, smoke cigarettes, and abuse women (bruises on one victim). A few uses of "f--k," plus rude sexual slang.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykel6s6 May 1, 2012

Life for a life. God give life but the wicked take away life.

Wicked begets wicked. Wickeds shall pay for crimes committed.
Parent of a 7-year-old Written byFinder July 8, 2010


Well first of all this movie was way more than an R rated film. I think it deserves an X rating. Way too violent and had too much sensuality. But even if you le... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byEmmaL. August 16, 2018

Know Your Kids

Most people will try and tell you that this movie isn’t suitable for anyone under 18. I’m here to tell you that’s not true for every case. While there is violen... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byhorrorfan123 February 15, 2017


do not ever listen to reviews this movie is amazing and at the end you feel satisfied hannibal got his revenge amazing death scenes the incredible gore is so go... Continue reading

What's the story?

HANNIBAL RISING traces the beginnings of serial killer Hannibal Lecter. As child in 1944 Lithuania, Hannibal sees his parents die during a fight between Russian tanks and German planes. Little Hannibal and his younger sister Mischa (Helena Lia Tachovska) are beset by starving German deserters, who end up eating Mischa. The memory wreaks havoc with Hannibal's psyche and eventually leads him to seek vengeance against these men, who were deemed war criminals. After escaping a Soviet orphanage, Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel) finds his aunt by marriage, Japanese wartime survivor Lady Murasaki (Gong Li) in France. Murasaki instructs Hannibal in martial arts. When he kills a butcher to defend her honor, Murasaki worries a little but helps him hide the crime from Inspector Popil (Dominic West). Determined to avenge his sister's grisly end, Hannibal pursues the men who ate her.

Is it any good?

The deaths are grotesque and the blood splatty, but Hannibal the movie doesn't demonstrate the cultural sophistication that Hannibal the character will later develop. (If Silence of the Lambs is any indication, that is.) Here, he's a bitter, anxious boy-man, a medical student who prepares cadavers for other students' autopsies -- discovering as he does so not only his pleasure in such activities, but also his gift. He is a grandly self-absorbed killer. When at last Murasaki begs him to stop, he cannot. His reason always: "They ate my sister." It's a terrible refrain and leads to a revolting psychosis. You can't help but miss Anthony Hopkins, whose sly wit alleviated at least some of Hannibal's thudding brutality.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the effects of trauma on children. How is the monster that Hannibal becomes produced by seeing his sister eaten? How is Hannibal sympathetic as a child? Why can't he satiate his desire for bloody vengeance? How does this movie explain or otherwise reshape the Hannibal the Cannibal story as you know it so far? Is Hannibal as effective a character when he's not being played by Anthony Hopkins? Would you consider this a horror film or a thriller? Why?

Movie details

  • In theaters: February 9, 2007
  • On DVD or streaming: May 29, 2007
  • Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li, Rhys Ifans
  • Director: Peter Webber
  • Studio: MGM/UA
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 117 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong grisly violent content and some language/sexual references.
  • Last updated: September 21, 2019

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