Red Dragon
Red Dragon poster
Directed by Brett Ratner
Produced by Dino De Laurentiis

Anthony Hopkins
Edward Norton
Ralph Fiennes
Harvey Keitel
Emily Watson
Mary-Louise Parker
Philip Seymour Hoffman

Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Dante Spinotti
Editing by Mark Helfrich
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release October 4, 2002
Running time 124 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $78 million
Gross revenue $209,196,298
Preceded by Hannibal
Followed by Hannibal Rising

Red Dragon is a 2002 American thriller film based on Thomas Harris' novel of the same name, featuring psychiatrist and serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. It is a prequel to both The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Hannibal (2001). The novel had served as the basis for a previous film, 1986's Manhunter, but this film is not considered a remake.

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 Edward Norton as FBI agent Will Graham and Anthony Hopkins as Lecter, a role he had, by then, played twice before in The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. The film also stars Ralph Fiennes, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary-Louise Parker, Emily Watson, and Harvey Keitel.


Psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter hosts a dinner party in his townhouse in Baltimore, Maryland. Lecter is later visited by Will Graham, a gifted FBI agent, 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 disembowelling 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.

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. The death of another family weighing 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.

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.

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 feds 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. This provokes Dolarhyde, who kidnaps Lounds, glues him to an antique wheelchair, forces him to recant his allegations, bites out his tongue and then sets him on fire outside his newspaper's offices.

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.

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.

Dolarhyde finds McClane with a co-worker, Ralph Mandy, whom she actually dislikes. Enraged, Dolarhyde kills Mandy, kidnaps McClane, takes her to his house, and then sets it on fire. Finding himself unable to shoot her, Dolarhyde 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 fatally shoots Dolarhyde.

Later, Graham receives a letter from Lecter, which bids him well and hopes that he isn't "too ugly." Lecter's jailer, Frederick Chilton, then tells him that a "young woman from the FBI is here to see you." Lecter asks, "What is her name?"


  • Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter
  • Edward Norton as Will Graham
  • Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dolarhyde
  • Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford
  • Emily Watson as Reba McClane
  • Mary-Louise Parker as Molly Graham
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Freddy Lounds
  • Frank Whaley as Ralph Mandy
  • Anthony Heald as Frederick Chilton
  • Ken Leung as Lloyd Bowman
  • Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
  • Ellen Burstyn as voice of Grandma Dolarhyde
  • Tyler Patrick Jones as Josh Graham

External links

Hannibal Lecter Films vte
Films ManhunterThe Silence of the LambsHannibalRed DragonHannibal Rising
Characters Hannibal LecterWill GrahamClarice StarlingFrancis DolarhydeBuffalo BillFrederick ChiltonJack CrawfordFreddy LoundsMason Verger

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