ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Red Dragon (2002), R
Analysis Date: October 5, 2002
CAP Score: 30
CAP Influence Density: 1.74

MinMax: -83

Red Dragon (2002) CAP Mini-thermometers

ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Table of Contents.

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

RED DRAGON (R) -- Mom/dad, this is an R-rated movie. Very "R." Hardcore "R."

Production: Dino De Laurentiis Productions, Universal Pictures
Distribution: MCA/Universal Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Director(s): Brett Ratner
Producer(s): Andrew Z. Davis, Dino De Laurentiis, James M. Freitag, Terry Needham, Martha Schumacher
Written by/Screenplay: Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: Dante Spinotti
Music: Danny Elfman,, Jack Newlon
Film Editing: Mark Helfrich
Casting: Kathy Driscoll, Francine Maisler
Production Design: Kristi Zea
Art Direction: Tim Galvin, Steve SakladJosh

Again we see Hannibal "Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins - Silence of the Lamb, Hannibal). But he's not "back" since this is the first in the Thomas Harris trilogy about Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The movie opens in 1980 Baltimore with a short sequence of how serial killer Lecter was first captured, violently, by FBI Agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) who has a special talent of being able to think like a serial killer while serving law and order, ending Lecter's string of murders. For now. Will finds some rather incriminating evidence in Lecter's things regarding recent murders. Lecter immediately launches into his murder mode and tries to kill Will in a very graphic display of attempted knife murder. After stabbing Will, Lecter expalins what is happening in Will's body while holding the knife to Will's throat. Equally graphic is Will defending himself with a full quiver of arrows and a gun.

Anthony Hopkins, a renowned and big star of the big screen, loved by millions, is a master at portraying evil as Hannibal Lecter. I was just on a talk show last week ( and one of the callers mentioned how it seems the media moguls present actors and actresses in such a way that even if their performances are sinful and evil, if they are good at it they are to be lauded. Hannibal Lecter is just one example of demonstrating sin and evil behavior as good talent [Isa. 5:20].

Several years later, we see special FBI Agent Will Graham (Edward Norton), still with the special gift of being able to think like serial killers. But Graham has gone into much needed and much deserved retirement to enjoy life for a change with his wife Molly (Mary-Louise Parke) and son Josh (Tyler Patrick Jones). They live the idyllic life of a loving and mutually supportive family while Will repairs boats. Will, Molly and Josh are each an integral part of a wonderful family unit until...

Now appears on the criminal horizon the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde (Ralph Fiennes). Will's ex-boss, Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) appears also, not on the horizon but rather at Will's doorstep to pull Will out of retirement for just this case. Jack knows that only Will has the special gift (or burden) to be able to think like serial killers to track Dolarhdye down and capture him.

Dolarhyde has the nickname "Tooth Fairy" killer given by the tabloids since he murders families, two so far, in their sleep and bites them as a signature. Dolarhyde does not like being called Tooth Fairy. He fancies himself as the Red Dragon with the massive tattoos to prove it. Indeed, Dolarhyde is so enraged by being dubbed the "tooth Fairy" by the tabloids, Dolarhyde torments, tortures and kills one of the tabloid reporters, Freddy Lounds (Philip Seymour Hoffman) by gluing him to a wheelchair then setting him afire and rolling him down a street ablaze..

Seeing great similarities between Dolarhyde and the incarcerated Hannibal Lecter, Will enlists Lecter's warped and evil mind to help anticipate the moves of Dolarhyde, to gain insight into such a mind and to devise a plan to capture him. Some twisted camaraderie is displayed in that relationship since it was Will who captured Lecter.

One of Dolarhyde's jobs was to deliver special film to a lab. At the lab is co-worker Reba McClane (Emily Watson). Reba is blind and is as nice and kind as can be. Being blind, Reba is well-suited for darkroom operations but ill suited for visual clues of danger. By paying special attention to Reba, Dolarhyde is successful in convincing her to "go out" with him. At his home, Dolarhyde wants to kill her but doesn't. One thing we do find out about the kind and humble Reba is that she is not that inhibited sexually. Indeed, she is sexually aggressive with Dolarhyde. Graphically aggressive.

Things progress to the point of Dolarhyde launching a murder campaign against Will's family -- with Lecter's help. Lecter and Dolarhyde had been communicating through a special code which included what appeared to be Chapter/Verse numbers from the Bible. If it were not for the sharpness of one of the investigative aides and his familiarity with the Bible, the code would never have been noticed let alone broken. Lecter found Will's home address and got it to Dolarhyde. The rest is formula plot. Graphic formula. Very graphic formula

Mom/dad, this is an R-rated movie. Very "R." Hardcore "R." There is full male nudity repeatedly; oral sex implied by proximity and motion; images of nudity; sexual references, jokes and innuendo; sexual touching [**, Rev. 22:15, Eph. 5:5, Rev. 21:8]. There is knife impalement; crime scene gore; crime scene photo gore; human incineration; a man biting the tongue from another man; gunfire murders; placing a shotgun in a mouth; drawings and portrayal of exceptionally brutal child sexual abuse; a glass shard held to an abducted child's face; much blood splatter; a symphony orchestra eats one of its members [Ps. 11:5, Prov. 3:31-32]. The language was not any better [Col. 3:8, Prov. 22:11, Eph. 5:4, Deut 5:11].

One might think the extent of influence of this sort of "entertainment" is nothing unusual. Well, let me describe a scene in the audience. A woman sitting with her husband behind me was occasionally noted as being animated during the show. When the final sequence of gory combat between Dolarhyde, Will, Molly and Josh came to the screen, the woman shouted "Get the gun! SHOOT him!" about events happening onscreen. When I left, she was slumped over nearly comatose with fear and her husband could not get her to rise to leave. This may be an example of ultra-sensitivity to Hollywood horror, but it is an example of reality. Indeed, everyone leaving the theater seemed more somber than typical for such genre of "entertainment", at least everyone but a few of the underage attendees who blurted a few things - nervously - to make them sound cool and immune to such invasive programming. There you have it for those who feel entertainment does not affect anyone. And for those who think the petrified lady was only one isolated case of someone who should not have gone to this movie getting all bent out of shape for no reason, how many must there be to make the point?

There is much more abuse of wholesome morality and ethics in this film than I have summarized above. See the rather lengthy listing in the Findings/Scoring section for a full accounting.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Isa. 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. ** "Nakedness" (display of nudity) is spoken of as dark, restricted, undesirable, shameful, etc. 47 times in the KJV from Genesis to Revelation. For example, Ezek. 16:36 "Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers,..." thus associating wanton nakedness with ill repute. What makes display of nudity okay in entertainment/art if it is not okay in flesh?
  • Rev. 22:15 Outside [of Heaven] are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
  • Eph. 5:5 For of this you can be sure: No [unforgiven] immoral, impure or greedy person -such a man is an idolater -has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
  • Rev. 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."
  • Ps. 11:5 The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. [The person in "his soul hateth" is the violent one, not God. God hates no one. "Soul", according to Strong's, is appetite, heart, mind, desire, emotion, passion, i.e., "his heart/mind hates" or "he who loves violence has an appetite for hating and desire to hate."]
  • Prov. 3:31-32 Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways, for the LORD detests a perverse man [his chosen behavior] but takes the upright into his confidence.
  • Col. 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Eph. 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [vain: shav' {shawv}; false, emptiness, nothingness, lying, worthlessness (of conduct)]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    *******Food for Daily Thought*******
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Red Dragon (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • attempted murder by knife, graphic
  • defensive attack, graphic
  • crime scene gore, repeatedly
  • detailed descriptions of gore
  • stills of graphic gore with nudity, repeatedly
  • flashbacks of gore with nudity, repeatedly
  • Kevorkian art
  • descriptive tale of graphic sexual abuse of a child by grandma
  • threats, repeatedly
  • knife threats, repeatedly
  • abduction, repeatedly
  • torture, verbal with threats during abduction
  • human incineration
  • unwitting cannibalism
  • man biting another man's tongue from his mouth
  • placing shotgun in mouth from rage
  • attack with blow to the head
  • unseen attack
  • firearm threats
  • arson
  • "I have to shoot you."
  • drawings of child abuse
  • glass shard to face of abducted boy to manipulate parents
  • graphic gun battle with two down
  • graphic defensive killing
  • breaking and entering

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 20 uses of the 3/4 letter word vocabulary
  • five uses of the most foul of the foul words
  • lies
  • massive tattoos
  • insane behavior
  • ugliness to abducted child by father to manipulate assailant

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • picture nudity
  • sexual reference
  • adult in underwear
  • full rear male nudity, repeatedly
  • full frontal male nudity, repeatedly
  • female sexually touching a tiger
  • excessive cleavage, repeatedly
  • sexually aggressive woman
  • woman touching man's privates
  • motions of and proximity for oral sex
  • overnight cohabitation

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • social drinking, repeatedly
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • drugging to abduct, repeatedly
  • beer

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • two uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 10 without
  • portrayal of servitude to a devil

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • gunfire murder to forehead
  • suicide with blood splatter

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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