Red Dragon (film)

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Red Dragon
Red Dragon movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brett Ratner
Produced by Dino De Laurentiis
Martha De Laurentiis
Screenplay by Ted Tally
Based on Red Dragon 
by Thomas Harris
Starring Anthony Hopkins
Edward Norton
Ralph Fiennes
Harvey Keitel
Emily Watson
Mary-Louise Parker
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Dante Spinotti
Edited by Mark Helfrich
Distributed by Universal Pictures
(United States)
Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Release dates
  • October 4, 2002 (2002-10-04)
Running time
124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $78 million[1]
Box office $209.1 million[1]

Red Dragon is a 2002 American psychological thriller film based on Thomas Harris' novel of the same name, featuring psychiatrist and serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. It is a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Hannibal (2001). The novel was originally adapted in the film Manhunter (1986).

The film was directed by Brett Ratner and written for the screen by Ted Tally, who also wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-winning The Silence of the Lambs. It stars Anthony Hopkins as Lecter, a role he played twice before in The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, and Edward Norton as FBI agent Will Graham. The film also stars Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman.


In Baltimore, Maryland psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter attends a symphonic orchestra performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. The flute player repeatedly misses out on his part, profoundly irritating Lecter. Later, Lecter hosts a dinner party in his townhouse for the orchestra's board of directors at which the disappearance of a musician, a flute player, is brought up during conversation.

After the party, Lecter is later visited by Will Graham, a gifted FBI agent and a psychologist, with whom he has been working on a psychological profile of a serial killer who has removed edible body parts from his victims, leading Graham to believe that the killer could be a cannibal. During the consultation, Graham discovers evidence implicating Lecter in the murders. Lecter attacks Graham, almost disemboweling him, before Graham overpowers Lecter. Lecter is sentenced to life imprisonment in an institution for the criminally insane while Graham, traumatized by the experience, retires from the FBI.

Some years later, another serial killer, nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy", appears. He stalks and kills seemingly random Southern families during sequential full moons. Hoping to capture the killer before his next attack, Special Agent Jack Crawford seeks Graham's assistance in determining his psychological profile. When the death of another family weighs on his conscience, Graham reluctantly agrees. After visiting the crime scenes and speaking with Crawford, he concludes that he must once again consult Dr. Lecter for advice.

"The Tooth Fairy" is actually a psychotic named Francis Dolarhyde who kills at the behest of an alternate personality he calls "The Great Red Dragon." He is obsessed with the William Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, and believes that each victim he "changes" brings him closer to "becoming" the Dragon. His pathology is born from the severe abuse he suffered at the hands of his sadistic grandmother after he was orphaned at a young age.

Meanwhile, Freddy Lounds, a tabloid reporter who hounded Graham after Lecter's capture, now follows him for leads on the Tooth Fairy. There is a secret correspondence between Lecter and Dolarhyde. Graham's wife and son are endangered when Lecter gives the Tooth Fairy the agent's home address, forcing them to be relocated to a farm owned by Crawford's brother. Lecter, aware that the police are onto him, raises the stakes: in return for his help, he requests a first-class meal in his cell and the return of his book privileges.

Hoping to lure the Tooth Fairy out of hiding, Graham gives Lounds an interview in which he disparages the killer as an impotent homosexual to anger the Tooth Fairy. This provokes Dolarhyde, who kidnaps Lounds, glues him to an antique wheelchair, forces him to recant his allegations, bites off his lips and then sets him on fire outside his newspaper's offices as a warning.

Meanwhile, at his job in a St. Louis photo lab, Dolarhyde falls in love with Reba McClane, a blind co-worker, but his Dragon personality demands that he kill her. He takes her home where they make love. Dolarhyde attempts to stop the Dragon's "possession" of him by going to the Brooklyn Museum and literally consuming the original Blake painting.

Meanwhile, Graham deduces that the killer knew the layout of his victims' houses from their home videos, which he could only have seen if he worked for the editing company that transfers home movies to video cassette and edits them. From this point, he starts searching the companies and their workers so he can determine the identity of the Tooth Fairy.

Spying from outside Reba's house, Dolarhyde finds her having spent the evening with a co-worker, Ralph Mandy, whom she actually dislikes. Enraged by this apparent betrayal, Dolarhyde kills Mandy, kidnaps McClane, takes her to his house, and then sets it on fire. Finding himself unable to shoot her, Dolarhyde apparently shoots himself. McClane is able to escape as the police arrive and the house explodes.

Dolarhyde, having staged his own death, turns up at Graham's home in Florida where he holds Graham's son hostage, threatening to kill him with a piece of broken glass. To defuse the situation, Graham slings insults at his son that are reminiscent of the ones Dolarhyde's grandmother had used against him. Feeling a sudden sympathy for the boy, the enraged Dolarhyde attacks Graham as the boy flees to safety. Both men are severely wounded in a shootout which ends when Graham's wife Molly kills Dolarhyde.

After the death of Dolarhyde, Graham receives a letter from Lecter which bids him well, praises him for exposing and killing The Tooth Fairy and hopes that he isn't "too ugly", and tells him they are going to cross paths soon. With the death of Dolarhyde, Graham retires from the FBI once again and continues to have a family life.

Some time later, Lecter's jailer, Dr. Frederick Chilton, tells him that a "young woman from the FBI is here to see you." Lecter asks, "What is her name?"



Red Dragon: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Danny Elfman
Released September 24, 2002
Recorded 2002
Genre Classical
Length 57:10
Label Decca Records
Producer Mark Helfrich
Brett Ratner
Danny Elfman chronology
Men in Black II
Red Dragon

Red Dragon: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a soundtrack to the film of the same name, released by Decca Records composed by Danny Elfman, and produced by Mark Helfrich and Brett Ratner. It was released on September 24, 2002 in the United States and Canada.[2]

Track listing

All music composed by Danny Elfman.

No. Title Length
1. "Logos"   0:50
2. "The Revelation"   2:41
3. "Main Titles"   3:00
4. "The Cell"   3:27
5. "The Old Mansion"   4:45
6. "The Address"   1:41
7. "We're Different"   1:26
8. "The Note"   2:47
9. "Enter the Dragon"   5:52
10. "Threats"   2:23
11. "Tiger Balls"   1:32
12. "Love on a Couch"   5:09
13. "Devouring the Dragon"   3:43
14. "The Fire"   4:34
15. "The Book"   0:34
16. "He's Back!"   6:08
17. "End Credits Suite"   6:45


Box office[edit]

Red Dragon was released on October 4, 2002, and opened in 3,357 theaters in the United States, grossing $13,478,355 on its opening day and $36,540,945 on its opening weekend, ranking #1 with a per theater average of $10,885.[3][4] On its second weekend, it remained #1 and grossed $17,655,750 – $5,250 per theater.[5] By its third weekend it dropped down to #3 and made $8,763,545 – $2,649 per theater.[6]

Red Dragon grossed $93,149,898 in the United States and Canada and $116,046,400 overseas. In total, the film has grossed $209,196,298 worldwide.[7]

Critical response[edit]

Red Dragon received positive reviews from critics. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives a score of 69% based on reviews from 185 critics, with the site's consensus that the film is "competently made, but everything is a bit too familiar", and an average score of 6.4/10, making the film "fresh" on the website's rating system.[8] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 60%, based on 36 reviews, which indicates "mixed or average reviews".[9]

Richard Corliss of the Time magazine gave the film a positive review, stating: "This darkly seductive, flawlessly acted piece is worlds removed from most horror films. Here monsters have their grandeur, heroes their gravity. And when they collide, a dance of death ensues between two souls doomed to understand each other."[10] Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine also gave the film a positive review, saying that the "audiences will be excused for any feelings of déjà vu the new film might inspire. That won't prevent them from watching it in rapt, anxious silence, however, as the gruesome crimes, twisted psychology and deterministic dread that lie at the heart of Harris' work are laid out with care and skill."[11] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three-and-a-half-stars-out-of-four, praising Brett Ratner's directing and the film's atmosphere. He stated: "To my surprise, Ratner does a sure, stylish job, appreciating the droll humor of Lecter's predicament, creating a depraved new villain in the Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes), and using the quiet, intense skills of Norton to create a character whose old fears feed into his new ones. There is also humor, of the uneasy he-can't-get-away-with-this variety, in the character of a nosy scandal-sheet reporter (Philip Seymour Hoffman)."[12] David Sterritt of the Christian Science Monitor gave the film a positive review, stated that "the most refreshing aspect of Red Dragon is its reliance on old-fashioned acting instead of computer-aided gizmos. Hopkins overdoes his role at times -- his vocal tones are almost campy -- but his piercing eyes are as menacing as ever, and Ralph Fiennes is scarily good as his fellow lunatic."[13] David Grove of the Film Threat, who gave the film four-stars-out-of-five, said: "Is Red Dragon a better film than Manhunter? I don’t know. I think it stands on its own, but I wonder how much people who are intimately familiar with Manhunter will be shocked by it, although the ending is altogether different and much more realized, I think.[14] Rick Kisonak, also for the Film Threat has, like Grove, gave the film a positive review and three-stars-out-of-five, saying: "The only downside to this delectable third course? The regrettable likelihood that Lecter fans will have to make do without dessert."[15]

Edward Guthmann of the San Francisco Chronicle, gave the film mixed review, saying that "in Hollywood, where integrity is rapidly consumed and careers defined by market value, there's trash and there's trash with a pedigree."[16] Stephanie Zacharek, for the Salon website, also gave the film a mixed review, stating: "If you buy the overprocessed headcheese of the serial killer as refined genius, you'll love Red Dragon. Or maybe not. Even Hannibal Lecter devotees may lose patience with this picture's grandiose, self-serious ponderousness -- that's Lecterese for, 'It's kind of boring in patches, actually.'"[17] William Arnold of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer who gave the film a mixed review, said that the film "basically lives up to the old adage that the final work in a trilogy is invariably the weakest."[18] Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice gave the film a negative review, he stated: "Red Dragon‍ '​s formula is so risible and rote by now that the natural reaction to scenes of peril, torture, and suffering is flippant laughter."[19]


Red Dragon was nominated for 13 awards, and won several, including Empire Award for Best British Actress (Emily Watson) and Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a Feature Film – Young Actor Age Ten or Younger (Tyler Patrick Jones).[20]

Date Award Category Recipient Result
May 18, 2003 Saturn Awards Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Ralph Fiennes Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Emily Watson Nominated
February 5, 2003 Empire Awards Best British Actress Emily Watson Nominated
February 13, 2003 London Film Critics Circle Awards British Supporting Actress of the Year Emily Watson Won
August 2, 2003 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie – Horror/Thriller Nominated
March 29, 2003 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Young Actor Age Ten or Younger Tyler Patrick Jones Won


  1. ^ a b "Red Dragon (2002)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  2. ^ "Red Dragon [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]". AllMusic. All Media Guide. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  3. ^ "Daily Box Office for Friday, October 4, 2002". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  4. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for October 4-6, 2002". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for October 11-13, 2002". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for October 18-20, 2002". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  7. ^ "Red Dragon (2002)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  8. ^ "Red Dragon". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2012-03-14. 
  9. ^ "Red Dragon". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  10. ^ Corliss, Richard (September 30, 2002). "Here Be Monsters". Time. Time Inc. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  11. ^ McCarthy, Todd (September 26, 2002). "Film Reviews: Red Dragon". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  12. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 4, 2002). "Red Dragon". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ Sterritt, David (October 4, 2002). "The doctor is in: Hannibal returns in 'Lambs' prequel". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  14. ^ Grove, David (October 4, 2002). "Red Dragon". Film Threat. Hamster Stampede LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  15. ^ Kisonak, Rick (October 8, 2002). "Red Dragon". Film Threat. Hamster Stampede LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  16. ^ Guthmann, Edward (October 4, 2002). "'Dragon' has no bite / All-star cast fails to make 'Silence of the Lambs' prequel appetizing". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  17. ^ Zacharek, Stephanie (October 4, 2002). "Red Dragon". Salon. Salon Media Group, Inc. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  18. ^ Arnold, William (October 3, 2002). "Lecter series has run its course, but Hopkins is still delicious". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  19. ^ Atkinson, Michael (October 1, 2002). "Monsters, Inc.". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Awards for 'Red Dragon'". IMDb. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 

External links[edit]