Hannibal Hopkins & Sir Anthony was seen as part of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
This year’s Oscars ceremony might go down as having one of the most insane endings ever, and I’m including that time La La Land won for about 17 seconds. If you recall the ceremony ended up switching the categories around in order to put Best Actor at the end of the show in a move that was clearly anticipating Chadwick Boseman winning for his stellar performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Everyone on social media at the time could see this coming, the ending felt obvious and we all waited with bated breath to see Chadwick’s widow walk up and emotionally destroy us… and then Anthony Hopkins won, wasn’t allowed to give a speech over Zoom because the people producing the show are idiots, and then the ceremony just ended. It was a catastrophe that was, rightly so, the lowest viewed Oscars ceremony in history.
That being said, it did give Anthony Hopkins his second Oscar which puts him in a league of legendary actors who have more than one Oscar to their name, so now seems like a great time to release a documentary about him… It’s such a pity that it feels like this one started production just after he won the Oscar in April and was ready to be presented a month later in May.
Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthony is a brief hour-long retrospective of the career of Anthony Hopkins, briefly touching on his early work but spending the bulk of it talking about how fantastic he was in Silence Of The Lambs. Using archival footage and pretty much nothing else (I would be genuinely shocked if a single frame of this entire film is original footage) we get a brief rundown of some highlights of Anthony’s career between 1990 and 2012 before abruptly ending before an hour is even over and you’re left wondering why you even bothered.
Not about to sugarcoat this one, I was actually looking forward to Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthony when I saw it listed. It’s literally one of the 5 films I put on a list of things I was excited to see and having seen it, I feel kind of ripped off. The film isn’t really about Anthony’s life story so much as a run-through of half a dozen films he got Oscar nominations for that stops roughly a decade before this film was even released. There isn’t anything really new or interesting, no grand insight to share about how he went from an unknown character actor working to make a living into one of the biggest movie stars on the planet… nope, just start rattling off the films he’s been in, that’s how you do a documentary, right?
Most of the clips of Anthony that are used in this seem to come from interviews he gave to people like Michael Parkinson or Jonathan Ross and they are fascinating interviews that I’ll be sure to look up on YouTube where I can probably get hours upon hours of these interviews, I don’t really need the highlight reel that’s presented here as a feature film. It’s almost devoid of emotion, it’s a Frankenstein of a film that’s certainly done with some love of the actor but none of that comes through in the final work.
What few highlights there are in Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthony are clearly also highlights from interviews the directors found online, namely things like Anthony talking openly about how he has nothing to prove now that he has an Oscar so he can make bad films. That’s one of the most charming things I think I’ve ever heard an actor say, so naturally, we hear it multiple times and the film never really touches any of those bad films… because that might’ve been fun and interesting to watch.
What might be the most annoying/upsetting/baffling thing about Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthony is its decision to end the story in 2012 with clips from the film Hitchcock. There’s no great reason for this, it doesn’t lead to some important point or ending, it just kind of feels like they ran out of time and just kind of stopped making the film. Keep in mind that since 2012 that Anthony has been nominated for 2 Oscars (The Two Popes, The Father), won one Oscar, had a major role in Westworld which was a fairly big hit… there’s enough between 2012 and now to fill up 2 hours of Documentary on its own but nope, just stop around the time Hopkins pretended to be Hitchcock for no reason.
Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthony is dull, it’s annoyingly dull. A film about a powerhouse performer like Anthony Hopkins should never even look in the general direction of dull and the way he’s presented here is just shameful. It’s not fun, not interesting, not even that comprehensive. Honestly, YouTube video essayists like Be Kind Rewind do much better work than this with no budget and produce quality work every month so how feature film-makers like this can produce something that just has nothing real to offer is staggering to me. Just go look up old Anthony Hopkins interviews, most of the content is similar enough anyway that you won’t be missing much.