Scene in D.C. is our new series highlighting film and television shot in the District.
Few films have used D.C.’s Union Station as prominently as Hannibal, the 2001 sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Directed by Ridley Scott, the film abandons the raw psychological terror and feminist streak of the original in favor of geek show grotesqueries (the climax ends with an FBI agent literally eating his own brain). There is an intriguing stretch of the film, however, where Hannibal (Anthony Hopkins) is more like a ghost than an imposing physical presence. In this scene, Hannibal stalks Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) through Union Station. Scott makes full use of the Beaux-Arts architecture, framing Moore in off-kilter angles that highlight the corners and semicircles of the station’s Great Hall. Still, the scene does not make full use of the building, since it looks like a shopping mall, not a train station. Also, Scott fills the frame with carousels, which – I think – were never actually there. This an example of a director using the architectural potential of a great building, while also denying the building’s primary purpose.