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Film Only Review:
Clarice Starling is in training at the FBI. Ambitious and hard working she is chosen by her boss, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) to go and quiz Dr Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) about what he knows about Buffalo Bill a serial killer out and about killing women for what appears to be their skins. Hannibal is kept in Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane as he has no qualms about killing people in the most disgusting of ways thought of and is a slippery, cunning character. However Clarice is warned dont let him get in your head as he was a former psychiatrist......but can she do that?
However Hannibal is willing to exchange information but only on his terms. From behind glass Clarice must hold her nerve and talk to this cold, hard cannibal and try to get the asswers the FBI need as in the meantime a young woman called Cathering has gone missing and it looks like Buffalo Bill has her and this turns into a high profile case seeing as this woman happens to be a senators daughter.
In the meantime like I say Hannibal is willing to give infomration albeit cryptic but only on one condition. She tells him about herself and answers the deeply disturbing questions that she obviously finds emotional and doesn't want to speak about.
Given a bribe of a room with a view and a week away on an island once a year Hannibal is moved but not before a pen of Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) goes missing and people die in horrid and gruesome ways. Hannibal has given Clarice some information but is she smart enough to disect what it all means and can she put the clues all together in time to save another victim from Buffalo Bills clutches? Hannibal.....what happens to him and will he come after Clarice eventually and if not why not?
Ok so this film is a wee bit dated now considering it was made in 1991 however the story remains fascinating to this day and is at times very dark and very chilling. Though other top leading actors of the time were considered when you watch this you seriously cant imagine anyone else playing Anthony Hopkins role in this after watching him. He plays it with sophistication and his matter of fact manner and sometimes we get a very tiny glimse of his humanity but then we're flipped back to the fact he eats people!
I have never ever been a fan of Jodie Foster but I admire her greatly in this film. She plays it well, with a real look of fear and foreboding in her eyes and I loved the chemistry between her and Hannibal Lecter.
Yes the film is gory but not like a horror film or gore of today. I remember when this came out my mum forbid me to go see it with my friends at the cinema though I was old enough to go to an 18 movie but looking back to when I was that age I would have been terririfed, the only reason I am not now is because I've seen much worse than the carry on in this film. This makes me jump and feel on edge time and time again as I watch it and everytime I view it I spot something different or hear something I havent heard before. The music throughout adds to the suspense and the ending....well I never expected that the first time I watched it but its very fitting and of course left the film open ended for another offering which came in the form of 'Hannibal' which in my opinion had too many stunts and fancy bits in it which this didnt which is why it became such a cult film!
The runtime of this is 118 minutes and for anyone who hasnt seen this (I cant think of anyone who wouldnt have over the age of 18!) its a must see and one for your collection of dvds as it is in mine!
RELEASED: 1991, Cert.18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 120 mins
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme
PRODUCERS: Kenneth Utt, Edward Saxon & Ro Bozman
SCREENPLAY: Ted Tally
MUSIC: Howard Shore
Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling
Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill
Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford
Brooke Smith as Catherine Martin
Diane Baker as Senator Ruth Martin
Anthony Heald as Dr. Chilton
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Trainee FBI Agent Clarice Starling is sent by her superior to question Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, an ex-psychiatrist who is incarcerated in a top security prison. The purpose of Clarice and Lecter's meetings is to hopefully get a psychological profile to assist with tracking down an at large serial killer, nicknamed Buffalo Bill.
During her meetings with the impeccably polite but cold, steely-eyed Dr. Lecter, Clarice reluctantly agrees to enter into a tit-for-tat scenario with him, whereby she exchanges some very personal information about herself for cryptic clues that she hopes will lead the FBI to Buffalo Bill's arrest.
Meanwhile and as the minutes tick by, Buffalo Bill kidnaps Catherine, daughter of Senator Ruth Martin.
Will Hannibal The Cannibal cooperate, and if so, can Clarice manage to decipher his cryptic clues before time runs out for Catherine, or is Clarice completely out of her depth with the clever, devious Lecter?
I can't think that there are many people who haven't seen Silence Of The Lambs, as it is one of those films which since its 1991 release, has gone down in history as one of the more notable cinematic chillers, plus was responsible for spawning the catchphrase... "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti", not to mention that slurping noise Lecter follows that statement with as he tries to unnerve Clarice after she makes the mistake of trying to trick him.
Silence Of The Lambs for me is largely about a battle of wits, as we see Clarice match Hannibal Lecter's icy, emotionless stare with an equally icy, emotionless one of her own...yet, there are chinks in her armour which Lecter manages to penetrate with ease. There is also a strong element of intuition present whereby Clarice largely has to rely on her wits whilst working on the Buffalo Bill case, and this is shown at its strongest when she is rummaging for clues through the bedroom of Frederica Bimmel, one of the killer's first victims.
There is no doubt about it, that Silence Of The Lambs contains some extraordinarily good acting. Both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins as Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter respectively give outstanding performances....Clarice being the determined young rookie whose outer tough image hides an inner vulnerability (she also managed to put on a very authentic-sounding West Virginia accent), and the incarcerated Hannibal The Cannibal being a highly intelligent yet vicious, cold and emotionless serial killer. Scott Glenn also played his part of Head Of Psychological Studies at the Quantico FBI Academy - and Clarice Starling's superior - extremely well, delivering a closed-up persona which has a gruff, awkward kindness lurking not too far underneath. Brooke Smith also gave a very good performance as the terrified Catherine Martin, Buffalo Bill's latest victim, even though her part probably entailed little more than screaming a lot.
However, I do feel there are two actors from Silence Of The Lambs who rarely seem to receive any credit or even mention for their brilliant performances....Anthony Heald as Dr. Chilton, the greasy slimeball who runs the prison where Lecter resides. Dr. Chilton is a nasty piece of work, who in my opinion may be even more disturbed than the convicts in his charge. The other person whose role I feel to be grossly under-rated, is that of Ted Levine. For me, Ted gives a superb performance as the creepy, chilling, very scary, batty as a box of rocks Buffalo Bill. It is my belief that when it comes to serial killers and how their characters are put across on screen, most people expect a knife-brandishing maniac creeping through the fog-shrouded streets of East London, or crazed, masked lunatic who breaks into people's bedrooms and slices them up whilst they sleep. Buffalo Bill is neither of these. He even, for the most part, comes across as quite inadequate and certainly very strange, yet when the viewer is taken into his domain - his home and his world - we are treated to a complex character who despite living in domestic chaos, is measured, careful and methodical in the way he conducts his business of serial killing. It has been said that the character of Buffalo Bill is loosely based on American 1950s serial killer Ed Gein, and I suppose that could be true at least up to a point, because much of what I have read about Gein isn't all that far away from what Buffalo Bill is.
Howard Shore's musical score to the film is a bit on the heavy side...heavy in the sense of being maybe a bit too noticeable, but is appropriate in mood, and helps to accentuate the atmosphere of the bleaker, more depressing parts of the movie.
I'm not sure if I'm the only person who sees this, but I do find certain parts of Silence Of The Lambs to be laced with a slight - very slight - tinge of dark humour. I'd like to talk more about the little bits that I find amusing in a wry sort of way, but can't, as it would be wandering into spoiler territory.
Although it is true that Silence Of The Lambs is very violent, it has to be said that it is underplayed somewhat in that the results of the violence are shown rather than the acts themselves. We do see a hint at someone being clubbed to death, but not the blunt object hitting the victim's head...we see the perpetrator's arm being raised then smashing down, but that is all, and it is left to the imagination (or could it more appropriately be described as common sense?) of the viewer. I personally think that the most shocking aspects of Silence Of The Lambs aren't so much to do with blood, guts and gore....more are they to do with mind games, manipulation, ruthlessness and insanity. However, this is definitely not a film for the under-18s, and I've come across quite a few over-18s who have been quite jarred, upset and scared by this incredibly well-acted, directed and produced psychological thriller/horror. I'm not one of them though...in fact, Silence Of The Lambs over the years has almost become a sort of a friend of mine. I have seen it countless times, even to the point where I could probably quote large swathes of the script from out of my head. It is possible I may have thus become inured to the power of the film, but it is also worth noting that the very first time I saw it back in the early 1990s, although it had a marked affect upon me, I didn't think of it as being particularly scary; for me it is more of a brilliantly intense psychological drama than anything else.
For anybody who hasn't seen Silence Of The Lambs, I urge you to watch it. If you are easily unnerved, it could be a 'no-no' for you, but I do repeat that it isn't as far down 'blood & guts boulevard' as the sensationalists have perhaps led us to believe. It certainly isn't one for the faint-hearted though, but if you appreciate strong characters, atmosphere, depth, and are interested in the psychology of what makes a person a serial killer, then you might just be missing something wonderful, not to mention superbly riveting and hugely entertaining.
On a final note, if someone who's never seen Silence Of The Lambs and is curious, but perhaps a little nervous of the film's contents, it might help if you took a trip to YouTube and searched for a couple of clips which are outtakes from the proceedings. It might take the sting out of the tail first for you and smooth the way a bit, as these outtake clips are quite amusing.
At the time of writing, Silence Of The Lambs can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.24 to £23.51
Used: from £1.48 to £7.00
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
This is the perfect thriller. From start to finish, this is perfect.
Hannibal Lector is perhaps one of the finest, most characterized and best acted villains of all time, and Anthony Hopkins' portrayal frequently comes out on top as the best villain in most polls. In the books, this story was actually the second of the three. In the films with Hopkins, this was used as the first story, though Red Dragon had been made into Manhunter in 1986 with Brian Cox. But that's nothing compared to this.
The Silence of the Lambs doesn't focus on Hannibal Lector as you might think it would. It instead focuses on a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill, with Lector merely a warped cannibal who is also a genius psychiatrist that the FBI use to help them. Hannibal is locked away in a secure mental hospital while FBI Agent Starling (Jodie Foster) plays the FBI trainee being used as a go between for Lector and the FBI.
Buffalo Bill is a killer who is choosing women specifically, and kills them before skinning them and placing a moth in their throats. He is a confused man and was previously a patient of Lector's which is why Lector is so helpful. During their conversations, Starling and Lector become close and we begin to understand more of their characters. We learn that Starling is out to prove herself as her father was killed, while Lector is very disturbed from something that perhaps happened to him while he was a child.
A deal is then struck with Lector, who is able to use the FBI's lack of security for one moment to escape. At the same time, Starling adn the FBI are also able to locate Buffalo Bill, leading to one of the most tense and finest finales in film.
There is no doubt that this film is the perfect thriller. Anthony Hopkins is actually in this for 16 minutes in total as Hannibal Lector, and yet he steals every scene and went on win the Oscar for Best Actor, making him the person who won an Best Actor for the least amount of screen time. Opposite him, and just as good is Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, the somewhat innocent FBI trainee who is dragged into this and in many ways is used for the FBI's ends. And there is also Ted Levine in his best role as Buffalo Bill.
This is a film that really dose rack up the tension throughout, and moves a fast yet methodical pace. The dialogue between Lector and Starling is superb, and you are drawn into Lector's character as much as Starling is.
I never saw this film at the cinema and when it has been on the TV in the past I have watched only snippets of it so when I saw it on recently I decided to sit down and make an effort to watch it. And I was glad I did.
At the time this film scooped 5 main Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actress, Beast Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay, taking all the biggies in competition that year and I can tell why. Released in 1991 Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins were excellent in the 2 main roles.
Silence of the Lambs is based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, it is a psychological thriller which only on a few occasions shows the gory or blood splattering side of things leaving the rest up to your own over active imagination!!!!!!
FBI agent in training Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) is a keen rookie that is put on the Buffalo Bill case and is sent to approach Dr Hannibal Lecter a cannibalistic psychiatrist (played by Anthony Hopkins) who is incarcerated in a prison hell for his own serial killer crimes. His insight into the current serial killer, Buffalo Bill, is crucial if the FBI are ever to catch him. In order for him to impart any information Lecter decides that in exchange he wishes to hear about Clarice Starling's most painful memories and in doing so a bizarre relationship of sorts strike up between the two of them. It is in these exchanges that Jodie Foster and Antony Hopkins excel, and I am not sure that either of them have since given a better performance. The clock is always ticking on this film as Buffalo Bill is still out loose and preying on his victims this keeps the suspense going particularly as you follow the fate of one of his victims (a politician's daughter).
The film and acting stands the test of time well and it is an excellent suspense thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seats throughout, with some of the scenes very intense at times. This is a classic film and I still can't believe it has taken me almost 20 years to see it but boy am I glad I did. If there is anyone else out there who has yet to see this then please do yourself a favour and take the time to watch it you won't be disappointed.
You can buy it on DVD with a recommended retail price of £15.99 although you can purchase it on Amazon for the princely sum of £4.99.
Transferring from page to screen has always been a bit of a lottery. You can get a good book and a dire film, or vice versa. One of the key things is to try and capture some of the essential elements of the book and transfer it with the right people. The Silence of the Lambs came at a time when Athony Hopkins was very much an established actor, and Jodie Foster had been a sort of child star and was emerging into the field of celebrated adulthood.
What makes Thomas Harris' book such a hit as a film is largely due to the awesome cast, but also some brilliant direction of Jonathan Demme. If you have read the book, then you'll obviously know what the score is with this. If you haven't, then you're in for a treat of a thriller with twists. Foster plays ace FBI agent Clarisse Starling (great brain, not a lot of experience) who has to rely on the help of expert cannibal psychologist Hannibal Lecter (an absolutely fantastic Anthony Hopkins) to stop a serial killer who is kidnapping girls and women (for some reason that is unknown until later on in the film) before leaving them brutalised and dead.
The film would be good enough, I imagine, with just the serial killer angle, but to spawn a couple of sequels/prequels, the Hannibal Lecter angle plays an equal part, and is the most memorable element to it. Hopkins plays the Chianti drinking, human eating doctor with a creepiness that I have never seen rivalled on screen, and the way he says 'Clarissssse' reminds me of a snake - the most cunning snake you could ever imagine. The cold, staring eyes and the nasal voice have been perfected, and the affect on the viewer is one of being riveted, watching a monster.
Foster is also excellent as Starling, and the scenes featuring the two of them together are some of the best I feel I have possibly ever seen in terms of dual character dialogue. Cinematography also plays a part in this, the camera cleverly focusing first on one of them, then on the other, a wide and distant angle for Starling, a closeup for Lecter. You get the feeling that Demme has completely controlled this, despite the effect being one as if the cast do the controlling. Hopkins and Foster are merely very able to do as they are bidded.
The two subplots are melded together very well by Starling's use of Lecter to try and get into the serial killer's head. Scenes that switch from the generic serial killer chase to Lecter's cell are in stark contrast with one another, and the tension at times is amazing, particularly when we get a scene Ted Levine's scary character inside a house and then Starling and the FBI agents outside as well, and you wonder what's going on. It is in complete contrast to other elements of the film, and yet somehow it all fits together perfectly.
The film also leaves things wide open for further pursuit of a sequel, which was duly one. In fact, there have been a number of films made with Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal, all of which are extremely good, but none of which quite manage to match the level of The Silence of the Lambs. Harris' book transfers onto the screen perfectly. The DVD is available from amazon.co.uk for £4.93, a very good price for an excellent film. Highly recommended.
This is the Lecter debut for Anthony Hopkins in this classic psychological horror thriller.
Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a woman who wants to become an FBI agent, and is about to become one when her boss asks for her help to track down an active serial killer, who goes by the name of Buffalo Bill, and to do this she feels the need to speak to the incarcerated cannibal killer, Hannibal Lecter, and asks him to use his expertise in solving the case, given his background in Psychology.
This is quite a disturbing film, especially where the Buffalo Bill character is concerned.
Ted Levine is fantastic in that role and his eerie, deep voice is only a compliment to his overall portrayal of this guy who likes to skin his victims, wearing the skin and collecting "trophies" from them, as disgusting as that sounds!
The film has a realistic tone and there is nothing fantasy about this one at all.
Anthony Hopkins as Lecter is superb and is an intimidating and frightening character, even for someone who sits, merely, in a jail cell for the majority of the film. His steely eyes tend to see right through you, at the audience.
We don't see Lecter's past crimes in any form at all but we are given pieces of information, enough to make us squirm in our seats!
This film is very dialogue heavy but the dialogue, itself, keeps it interesting and it moves the story forward at an appropriate pace.
There are scenes of violence in the film and the gore level can be pretty extreme when these scenes occur, which is mostly to do with the whole film's realism.
I can't finish this review without saying how great Jodie Foster is in her role as Clarice and her character is very well developed! Clarice is somebody who comes across very brave and determined and she won't let much of anything get in her way and she certainly is more than a match for Lecter's intelligence!
I do believe that, ultimately, this movie and it's sequel are really developing love stories. I may be looking too deeply into it but it comes across as a tale of impossible love, behind the violence and both film's main plots.
Anyway, if you haven't seen this then you will enjoy this if you like the type of films that like to play on audiences mind's.
Agent Clarice Starling is a training FBI agent, hope to work in behavioral sciences with Jack Crawford. Crawford though sends Starling on an assignment, to psychologically exam the insanely intelligent criminal Hannibal Lecter. Crawford had another agenda, to see if Starling can press information out of Lecter to help with the current case of Buffalo Bill. Bill has already killed five girls, skinning off sections of their bodies.
The Silence of the Lambs is one of the best psychological thrillers. Thomas Harris's best selling book is faithfully transfered to the screen. It's one dark twisted disturbing ride. The mood is heighten by Demme's great direction, with such detail in all the sets and locations. Demme has used reflective surfaces wonderfully, during one of Starling's and Lecter's talks it used to great extent. One of the final sequences of Clarice walking through the basement of Bill's house is one of the most suspense full scenes i have ever seen.
All the performances are knock outs. Jodie Foster as always brings the goods and makes Starling the most interesting to watch. At times she makes Starling so fragile, then a second later she's strong as steel. Anthony Hopkins is so disturbing as Lecter.
A rookie female fbi agent Clarice Starling is assigned the task of finding a missing women before her psychotic killer skins her and adds her to his list of victims.In order to get a better insight into the twisted world of serial killers she begins to talk to the psychotic Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lector.Hannibal used to be a respected psychiatrist , and is an extremely clever man in order for him to help her Clarice must gain his respect and he does not make it easy for her.He uses this to his own benefit as he issues requests regarding his treatment.Will she be able to overcome his challenges and agree to his conditions in time to save the girl.
Wow where to begin this film really set the tone for killer thrillers,and in my opinion is often copied but never bettered. The pace and intensity of the film will keep you immersed wondering where it is going to next.
Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal created a true cinema icon,his role in the film is what makes it as the sadistic Cannibal,the scenes of violence are brutal but fit in with the story so well,they don't seem random or out of place they just fit perfectly. The whole look and feel of the film is perfect and is complimented by a great score.Hopkins performance is chilling throughout the whole film and by the end i kind of liked him.
Buffalo bill who is the kidnapper, is a sadistic man and there is a scene between him and Starling at the end that just blew me away even to this day ive never seen anything like it, i aint going to lie it terrified me.It has such an incredible atmosphere that makes it all seem so real , its almost like watching a documentary about serial killers or something along them lines.
Behind all the savagery and brutality of the film it did make me think as to what goes through peoples heads to make them do such things.I was fully immersed in it , unlike the sequels they were crap lol.
It is avliable to buy for about £6 from amazon and is defo worth buying it is one of them films that you have to see befor you die you simple must see it lol, i cant stress how good this film is.
Silence of the Lambs was originally released in 1991 and still terrifies me and gives me the chills when I watch it now on DVD all these years later. It was the first horror film to win an oscar for best picture and definately deserves it.
Jodie Foster stars as FBI recruit Clarice Starling. She is asked by her superior officer to visit the notorious serial killer Hannibal Lecter played brilliantly by Anthonly Hopkins. He is a former psychiatrist who is being held in high security prison. He is renowned for eating his victims and nicknamed aptly 'The Cannibal' and so is restrained at all times behind a glass wall and has to wear a mask.
He apparently can help the FBI to catch a murderer named Buffalo Bill as he knows the inner workings and has an insight into the mind of this killer.
However, Hannibal is not going to give up this information easily and so begins an uneasy, scary relationship between himself and Jodie Foster's character. He demands an insight into her own childhood in return for his opinions and help. It is the exchanges between these two in his dark dungeon, seperated by glass that make up the heart of the story.
I found Hopkins to be very memorable as Hannibal Lecter and brought the character to life. He sent a chill down my spine whenever he spoke and you were just waiting for him to burst out of the shackles and break through the glass at any point. Jodie Foster also puts in a fine performance as someone who is terrified but tries not to show it as she goes about her job.
The whole scenery down where he is a prisoner added to the dark, sinister feel of the movie and the great thing is that the movie is so full of suspense and leaves you on the edge of your seat without ever having to get too gory like some horror films. A great film to watch if you can take the suspense
"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
John Hurt, Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Irons, Jack Nicholson and Sean Connery were all considered to play the role of the cannibalistic serial-killer Dr Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme's 1991 psychological thriller/horror "Silence of the Lambs." Fortunately, however, we were spared the thought of James Bond becoming the silver screen's most notorious serial killer when the role was handed to Anthony Hopkins. A legend was born.
Hopkins is on the screen for precisely 24 minutes and 17 seconds, yet his powerful presence casts a shadow over the movie from start to finish. His performance as the psychotic doctor was so memorable that not even this lack of screen time could prevent him from picking up the Oscar for Best Leading Actor.
Based on the book by Thomas Harris, Silence of the Lambs is actually a sequel to the lesser-known and Hopkins-less "Manhunter" (later remade with Hopkins as "Red Dragon"). It features rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) on the hunt for serial killer Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb (Ted Levine), so named for his habit of skinning his female victims. To track this elusive killer, Starling is forced to enlist the help of the intelligent but insane Doctor Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) currently residing in the Baltimore state hospital for the criminally insane. Lector, remorseless and seemingly emotionless, is quick to point out the main difference between himself and most other serial killers - the fact that he never kept any trophies. "No." remarks Clarice "You ate yours".
The character of Dr Hannibal Lector has become one of the most iconic of all time. In a strange way, the brutal yet charismatic psychopath is almost the hero of the trilogy, and the fact we can have sympathy, and even at times admiration, for such a nightmarish character, is a huge tribute to Hopkins talents as one of Hollywood's leading lights. It would have easy to play the character as a cartoonish monster - a Freddie Krueger or a Jason Vorhees. Instead the combination of Thomas Harris, Jonathan Demmes and Anthony Hopkins portray his as a complex, contradictory character, and this just makes him all the more interesting to watch and analyze.
His relationship with the young rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is particularly revealing. His growing affection for her is genuine, if slightly creepy. His successful attempt to punish fellow prisoner Miggs for his "discourtesy" to Clarice which Lector describes as "unspeakably ugly to me", is misguided but it is possible to believe Lector had the best possible intentions. Miggs throws sperm at Starling as she is walking down the corridor to her first meeting with Lector; the doctor's revenge is to whisper to Miggs through the cell wall all night. Miggs is found dead the next morning, having swallowed his own tongue. Biting people's faces and eating their organs is acceptable it seems. Rudeness, however, is not.
The scenes between Lector and Starling are the most memorable in the film. They are captivating and disturbing in equal measure as the doctor turns the line of questioning back to Starling's childhood traumas and nightmares of screaming lambs in an attempt to psychoanalyze her. "You don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head." Is the wise advice from Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), but Starling is unable to resist as Lector offers her the choice; If I help you, Clarice, it will be "turns" with us too. Quid pro quo. I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself. Quid pro quo. Yes or no?"
Caged, muzzled and restrained through the majority of the film, Lecter is no less intimidating for his captivity. It is difficult to overstate the air of menace he exudes as he prowls the small room like a predator, never taking his eyes off his prey. Despite the physical barriers, you get the impression of Lector as being like a deadly snake, this all-knowing, all-seeing, deceptively powerful and intelligent creature coiled ready to strike.
There is no doubting the prey; Starling, young and naïve, is trapped in a battle she can never win. Foster, however, deserves immense credit for portraying such an atypically strong female lead. It is a powerful performance, deserving of her Leading Actress Oscar. As she herself so modestly stated, her performance is "one of the most true and progressive portrayals of a female ever". One of my only personal grievances of the film, however is how her southern drawl starts to grate after a while. In fact, she argued with the Director about it at the start of the film. Also, in the first scene involving herself and Hopkins, he makes a mocking imitation of the accent. Apparently, it was totally improvised by Hopkins, and Foster saw it as a personal attack. The scene made the final cut however, as it shows Lecter mocking the origins which Starling has spent a life time trying to hide.
Hopkins has revealed several influences on his creation of the character; HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a complex, intelligent computer incapable of any kind of humanity; a combination of Truman Capote and Katharine Hepburn; various serial killers including Charles Manson; and the devil. "I have always perceived the devil as very charming, witty, seductive, sexual - and lethal."
Several clever techniques are used to build the menace of the character. When Starling is walking towards Lector's corridor, the scene is suffused in a red light - this is the gateway to hell. The disembodied voices she hears from the cells are the cries of the damned. In the cell itself, Lector is waiting for her - staring straight at the camera; reinforcing the feeling that this is not a man, but some supernatural omnipotent creature who even knows we are watching. It really adds an air of claustrophobic intimidation to the film and makes us fill we are in the cage with the monster. In most of the scenes between Starling and Lecter, the doctor is always present - sometimes just in blurred reflection making him seem like some malevolent, mocking ghost.
However, in many ways, Lecter is not an evil man. In fact, when Hopkins found out he had been cast in the role because of his performance "The Elephant Man", he questioned the decision as ""Dr. Treves was a good man." To which Demme replied "So is Lecter, he is a good man too. Just trapped in an insane mind." Hopkins later went on to describe Lector as "a man who is locked in the monstrosity of his own mind", suggesting his actions are almost involuntary. He is intelligent, charismatic, dignified, charming and seems oblivious to the chaos he wreaks. It is this inherent humanity that makes Lector such an iconic character.
It is interesting to note the contrast in the first two times we see him make contact with another human being - he strokes Clarice's finger with his own in the first, bites a man's face off the next. Again we see this enigmatic, contradictory character - this humane monster.
Lector's nemesis, Dr Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald ), in many ways is a far more loathsome creature than the criminal's he studies. His analysis of Lector, through years of careful study is "he's a monster", which just goes to show his lack of understanding of the man. Greasy of hair and tongue, he is brilliantly played by. Here is a man just begging to be eaten.
Compared to Hannibal Lector, the second serial-killer, Buffalo Bill, is something of a lightweight. Lacking the Doctor's depth, the character was criticized by many for being a homophobic stereotype. Occasionally lapsing into the sort of drag-queen act that must haunt Lilly Savage's nightmares, it's easy to see why. We see very little reason for the character's behavior and psychological problems, which was apparently a source of regret for the director. It is not a bad performance by Levine by any means, but he is up against possibly the greatest movie villain of all time and can't help but pale into insignificance.
Some people have also critizised Hopkins' performance, citing it as too "theatrical". He certainly does play the part to its extreme and there is little subtlety. In my opinion however, it is one of the finest character performances of all time. When he is on screen, he is mesmeric and hypnotic, like an explosion waiting to happen. Even when he is off-screen, he dominates the film. His performance is utterly unforgettable.
The films brown and grey tones lend a somber sobriety to the film, whilst the sound is clever and excellently used - along with the standard orchestra, whale and submarine noises mark Starling's journey to the "underworld" of Lector's dungeon-like cell. This makes the character seem isolated, lost and out of her depth, and lends a real weight to their first meeting.
Although heavily psychological in general, there are also several dramatic scenes. Revealing what these are would spoil the movie, but they are superbly clever and are real heart-racing moments of the highest order. Two scenes in particular beautifully deceive the audience and throw our assumptions back in our faces
There are also several moments which could almost be called "comic", but these are, however, the blackest of black humour. It mainly involves Lector ironically ridiculing himself - "people will say we're in love", he tells Starling.
At 118 minutes, the film is well paced, gripping, tense and perfectly constructed. It is a piece of film-making art of the finest caliber - dark and disturbing yet stylishly handled for commercial appeal. Featuring two actors at the very top of the professions, the performance of Hopkins in particular was career-defining. Doctor Hannibal Lector as an icon, as a name and as a personality is unrivalled in modern cinema. Part mythological bogey-man, he is cold and calculating, utterly insane, yet crucially human.
Despite it's subject matter, SOTL is deceptively void of a huge amount of blood or violence. Most of the gory scenes are shown in flashes, though occasionally this can serve to make the images even more harrowing. There are also few profanities, although the ones that are used are strong in the extreme. However, fairly obviously, a film about cannibalistic serial killers and skin-stripping psychopaths is not exactly Disney. This is absolutely unsuitable for children or more sensitive adults. It is more a thriller than a horror, but there are horror elements to it and Hopkins' portrayal of Dr Lecter is both harrowing and disturbing. Criticism has been leveled at the film that it glamorises murder and violence, and there is a certain amount of truth in this. In fact, this was said to be the reason that Michelle Pfeiffer turned down the role of Starling.
- Thomas Harris, author of the Hannibal Lecter series has apparently never seen the film as he feels it would influence his writing too much
- SOTL is arguably the only horror to win an Oscar for Best Picture
- The idea of dressing Hopkins all in white later in the movie comes from Hopkins' fear of dentists
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS
Below are a couple of facts about the film which I find interesting. However, some of which could be considered spoilers if you haven't already seen it. Please scroll down if you don't want to read these.
- The character of Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumby was based on three real-life serial killers; Ed Gein who skinned his victims and used the skin to cover his body and body parts as house decorations. Ted Bundy used an arm cast to get sympathy and attract victims. Gary Heidnick imprisoned his victims in a dungeon similar to the one Gumby uses.
- It is never properly revealed in the film, but the reason Gumb doesn't shoot Starling in the scene at the end whilst he has the chance is because he wants her "glorious" hair and doesn't want to destroy his prize. The only clue to this in the film when he reaches out in the darkness to touch her face and hair. In fact, although in my opinion the film is superior, the ending in the book is far better.
- In the book, when a moth lands on the dying Gumb he asks "How does it feel to be so beautiful?" This is another detail missing in the film which I think would have been a nice touch.
END OF SPOILERS!!! END OF SPOILERS!!!
Available for under £5 from Amazon, although widely available at a similar price from many outlets
The cover is also worthy of note - a striking image of a deathly white Jodie Foster, with mouth covered by a Death's Head moth, wings spread to reveal skull-like markings
Inside the Labyrinth: The Making of Silence Of The Lambs
Anthony Hopkins Phone Message
Original Theatrical Trailer
Winning all five major Academy Awards (Best Movie, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Screenplay) is quite an achievement. Doing it a year after the movie is released is nothing short of miraculous. But that's what happened with Silence of the Lambs, a masterpiece composed of superb writers, actors and a skillful director at the top of his craft.
There are faults, as with any film. Some of the scenes stretch the imagination somewhat. Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb is a somewhat two-dimensional character can never compete with the insane, alluring and deadly Doctor Lecter. It is morbid, disturbing and revels somewhat in the blood and violence, which led to accusations it glorifies murder.
As a film though, whether classed as a horror, a thriller, a drama, or a detective story, it scores full marks. It beguiles us, misleads us, scares and thrills us. For a long time afterwards, the audience's dreams will be haunted by the screaming of the lambs
I do wish I could write more, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner......
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
The Silence of the Lambs is a superb psychological thriller directed by Jonathan Demme and based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris. It is an incredibly iconic film of the genre, and presents one of the most lauded villains of all time - Dr. Hannibal Lecter - who has left an enduring legacy and his success and popularity has meant that numerous sequels have been made. It also won numerous Oscars, including Best Picture, in a very tight year with many great films such as Beauty and the Beast and JFK.
The film opens as a promising FBI student named Clarice Starling (Foster) is pulled from training and offered the daunting task of interviewing the psychopathic cannibal Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). From here the film becomes an interesting cat and mouse game, as Starling and Lecter try to gain a means of one-upmanship on each other, with psychological mind-games and later, a very physical chase. However, for the start, she uses him to try and probe the mind of a killer, because a new serial killer called Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) is on the loose, and has captured a young girl.
What separates this film from convoluted thrillers is just how damn smart the film is - not only is it psychologically complex, but the characters are extremely well developed, and the set pieces, although often ludicrous, are ingeniously designed such that they play out with breakneck intensity, making them more believable. Also, Foster and Hopkins' performances are flawless, and earned them both Academy Awards for their stellar work.
A wonderful psychological thriller with superb writing and compelling performances all around. Hopkins makes a truly terrifying antagonist, and some of the later escape and pursuit scenes are truly tense. Clarise sauntering around in the dark of Buffalo Bill's basement is the epitome of cinematic tension. A true classic, and the definitive psychological thriller.
In this day and age there are very few crime/thrillers that can stand the test of time, the dated-special effects often becoming their downfall, but Silence of the Lambs is one psychological horror which will remain a classic for decades to come.
Clarice Starling, a promising young FBI student, is sent to obtain the help of the notorious serial killer Hannibal 'the cannibal' Lecter in order to track down a new, yet equally dangerous, killer. Silence of the Lambs will always stand on its own as a true horror masterpiece because of its exemplary acting and multi-layered plot, which is carefully weaved together to create a thrilling, and somewhat unnerving, experience. Anthony Hopkins in his screen debut as the idiosyncratic Dr Lecter is a marvel to behold, and has helped create one of the most infamous anti-heroes to date. Although Hannibal may seem charming and courteous his cool intellect masks a dark and terrible monster. He is, without a doubt, one of the most terrifying killers ever to grace the silver screen, not just violent and bloodthirsty, but brutally intelligent, capable of attacking his victims on many levels, both physical and psychological. And yet, you can't help but like him. It must be the Hopkins's charm I guess.
Part of the movie's charm is the skilfully crafted multi-layered storyline, which contains two separate plots running in parallel. On one side we have Clarice and Hannibal's bizarre relationship, where you are never entirely sure exactly who is getting the better of who amidst Lecter's never-ending barrage of mind games. On the other side we have Buffalo Bill, a thoroughly disturbed trans-sexual serial killer, whose modus operandi is to abduct, shoot and skin his female victims, for purposes yet unknown. Of course, when his latest victim turns out to be a senators daughter, things take a much more dramatic twist.
Silence of the Lambs creates a much more accurate and disturbing look into the nightmarish world of the serial killer than its more modern counterparts, dispelling the 'ah ha ha, mad they thought I was mad but I'll show them' portrayal of most fictional murderers. Both villains are, in their own way, very human and all too easy to emphasise with, leaving you unsure about exactly whose side you are on. Although the special effects are incredibly dated, most of the blood looking like watered-down paint, the exceptional acting and novel camera-work ensures Silence of the Lambs a place in the cinematic hall of fame. Just one word of advice, don't watch it at one o'clock in the morning. It took me nearly two days to sleep properly again.
Just watched this film again for the first time in a long time, and wow, far better than I remembered, I think last time I was a little too young to follow it properly.
One of the cool parts of this film is the way that you have a couple of plots which tie in together going on at the same time. Many who haven't seen the film may think that Lecter is the main villain, however this is not the case, as he is helping the FBI to catch another serial killer called "Buffalo Bill". It is also amazingly surprising how polite, and intelligent Lecter is. Although there is always the knowledge that he is a psychopathic murderer in the back of your mind, he somehow seems a reasonable man and of course incredibly intelligent. I really don't think anyone else could have pulled off Dr. Lecter as Anthony Hopkins did, it is truly a magnificent performance. Jodie Foster plays her character superbly too, little wonder that they both got Oscars for their performances.
I am not going into the story in this particular review at all, as I can't really say anything other than what I said above, but you really need to find out for yourself, this certainly isn't your average horror, in fact I don't think I'd call it a horror at all, it's somewhat more realistic! It deserves the 18 rating it is given, and to be honest too much younger and I think they may struggle to follow it anyway.
This has won 5 Acadamy Awards:
Best Actor, Anthony Hopkins
Best Actress, Jodie Foster
Best Director, Jonathan Demme
Best Picture, Edward Saxon, Kenneth Utt, Ronald M. Bozman
Best Adapted Screenplay
With that little horde I doubt anyone can say this is a poor film, and would probably appeal to fans of horror and thriller fans, and really; anyone who likes a good storyline in their films.
I am very much looking forward to watching Manhunt, Hannibal and Red Dragon, as I am still yet to watch them, but I'll probably chuck up a review once I have done, cheers for reading!
It is amazing to think that this film is now 18 years old, and it has certainly passed the test of time. The charcters in this film must be one of the best known in cinema history. I'm sure that even if someone hasn't seen the film they must know of Hannibal Lecter.
The film is based around the serial killer known as Buffalo Bill and the FBI's attempts to capture him, in order to help them in their investigation they enlist the help of another killer - Lecter.
I love this film for the quality of the acting, I find that the portrayl of Lecter by Anthony Hopkins is mesmerising and he rightly won an Oscar for his portrayl. You should hate this character for the murders he has committed but there is something so charasmatic about him that you put that to one side and almost start liking him!!! For an actor to be able to make this essentially barbaric monster into a "loveable rogue" shows the skill of the actor.
The FBI agent who has to get his help is Clarice Starling played by Jodie Foster, who also won an Oscar for her performance, and she is also captivated by the one time psychiatrist, Lecter. She manges to mirroe perfectly the feelings we to are having about Lecter
The film is just under 2 hours long but it will fly by in an instant - there are a couple of "hide behind the cushion moments" but the majority of the tension and horror is all in your head, which I much rather prefer to the pure gore and blood that many 18 certificate films resort to.
I don't feel that this film has not dated in any way and is still as good to watch now as it was 18 years ago.
Anthony Hopkins stars as the shivering and mind grabbing Hannibal Lector, who is a cannibal who basically likes eating people! Don't worry there's not many in the world today but most probably take their props by their role model Hannibal. Also starring Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling who is the assisting officer on the case in this movie she is stellar in performance and atcually won an Oscar for this performance and i was convinced she would lose. Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster give excellent performances of their charachters, very believable and their chemistry is fascinating - never have i seen apart from 24 Jack and Nina, two charachters so fascinating to watch with each other to watch their interaction
Hannibal has been in prison for years and even now he has no regrets of what he did and still claims it was DE-LIC-IOUS LOL! disgusting... it is Clarice's job to interact and ask questions to Hannibal to find out more about him and also to ask for his knowledge on a case. It'sa fascinating movie and i throughly could not recommend it more. It's not HD! it was shot years and years ago and it begins brillant with Clarice running through and then being called in and Hannibal nearly escapes (Scary thought i know).
It's a brillant movie that spawned wait for it 3 spin off movies, stellar performances = awards = Oscars meaning they didnt half win Anthony one won, Jodie won one and a Movie win for Silence Of The Lambs. There's a twist at the end and my fave clip of possibly many movies over 10 years is where the light goes out and Clarice is in the dark with the serial killer and we can see him look at her head and clutch his hands in the dark, i got goosebumps - brillant performances, brillant moments and Hannibal scares the hell outta me!
Directed by Jonathan Demme, this genre-bending thriller sees Jodie Foster portraying Clarice Starling, an ambitious FBI student who is on the verge of graduation when her superior enlists her help to track down a serial killer. The Feds have determined that the most likely suspect in the disappearance of a senator's daughter is Buffalo Bill, who is murdering women and doing something terrible with their skin. But to find him, Starling is forced to enlist the aid of another notorious serial killer - the terminally incarcerated ex-psychiatrist known as Hannibal 'The Cannibal' Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). A classic.