To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman.
The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 psychological horror film directed by Jonathan Demme, written by Ted Tally, produced by Strong Heart Productions, and distributed by Orion Pictures. The film is based on Thomas Harris' 1988 novel, The Silence of the Lambs. It stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. It was nominated for and won Best Picture, Best Actor (Hopkins), Best Actress (Foster), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was otherwise nominated for Best Sound and Best Film Editing, but did not win those. This is the first movie in the Hannibal Lecter series. It was followed by Hannibal. This film has been selected for preservation by the National Film Registry.
"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver...with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." -Hannibal Lecter
In an effort to try and catch a violent serial killer called by the name "Buffalo Bill", FBI trainee Clarice Starling consults the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Lecter is locked up for violent acts of murder and cannibalism, but he agrees to help catch the killer. As Starling learns more about the case, Lecter also digs deeper into her mind, causing a chain reaction of horrifying psychological and physical events.
Oh, where to start with this movie?
The acting in this movie has some of the best performances of all time. Anthony Hopkins is obviously the standout with his Oscar-winning portrayal of Hannibal Lecter. Behind Marlon Brando as Don Corleone and maybe Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, this is considered the best performance ever. Every single line is delivered with this creepy, sinister sense, but Hopkins makes this character so charming. Jodie Foster is also amazing. She is definitely overshadowed by Anthony Hopkins, but she still won an Oscar. She has incredible chemistry with Hopkins, but she makes some of the scenes with Lecter great, too. Her best scene is the "screaming of the lambs" scene. Her expressions are so real and spooky. Some of the best facial acting that I've ever seen. We spend most of the movie with Starling, and Jodie Foster makes her scenes much, much better.
Ted Levine is not in a lot of the movie, but I think that he does a pretty good job. He is absolutely crazy, and he does a great job of playing that scary, insane, purely evil serial killer. He is also very gross. He makes sure that the audience gets to see that in full swing. I also think that Scott Glenn is pretty good. He doesn't match the standard for the acting in the film, but that's because it has two Oscar-winners in the leads.
This is the second movie that I have seen that really completely messes with your mind. Back again to the "screaming of the lambs" scene. That scene was incredible. It was so psychologically crazy. The way that it is shot is so cool. The facial expressions on both Anthony Hopkins' evil face and Jodie Foster's terrified but mesmerized face make the scene so much more real. It is so spooky and great, and just makes your mind completely spin.
This movie has an amazing group of characters. Just like the rest of the movie, Hannibal Lecter leads the troops. He is truly one of the greatest characters in cinematic history. He is such an interesting character, because he is a psychopathic cannibal, but he is a protagonist in the film. He is a good guy. But morally, he is definitely, definitely not a good guy. They make every conversation with Clarice just amazing and ominous. If Hannibal Lecter was not in Silence of the Lambs, it would not have won Best Picture or be even close to the cultural phenomenon that it is today. He carries this movie on his back with his charm and sinister vibe, but you also root for him. They craft a character that is likable, even though he is a horrible, evil person.
Clarice Starling is also a great character. She is, like everybody else, overshadowed by Lecter, but she is an unusual hero in a horror movie. She is very strong and independent and creates an unlikely bond with Lecter. At times, it's hard to remember that she is just a young trainee and isn't even a real FBI agent yet. She is one of the best female characters and it is so great that she is so brave and intelligent. They give her backstory some mystery, and that makes her character even more intriguing, because we don't know much about her. Clarice is the perfect protagonist for this movie.
Buffalo Bill is good enough. He is genuinely scary and somewhat realistic, which makes the movie all the more vivid. The things that he does and the way that he acts resembles something that a crazed serial killer, like Ted Bundy and Gary Heidnik, would actually do. The setting of his basement and the pit and stuff like that is so brutally realistic that it is terrifying. The writers and Jonathan Demme did an amazing job of making Buffalo Bill horrifying and feel all too real at the same time.
The only other characters that are somewhat prominent are Jack Crawford and Frederick Chilton. They are good enough, but by Silence of the Lambs standards, they aren't great characters. Crawford is a good boss character that cares for Clarice and realizes what he's putting her through, and that's cool, I guess. Frederick Chilton doesn't really do anything. He's just kind of an a**hole.
This movie has an amazing crew also. Jonathan Demme did a fantastic directing job. There are so many great scenes. I will list a couple of highlights with links to the scene. Just keep in mind that a couple of these scenes are pretty scary, so proceed with caution.
These are just the highlights. Every scene is just a work of genius. Jonathan Demme makes every scene either have a high level of thrill, some crazy psychological thing, an element of terror, or just plain disturbing. This movie is masterfully directed and written even better.
This is really a nitpick, but the movie has a little bit of an uneven pace. It goes from Lecter escaping, which is a super exciting and nerve-racking scene back to Jack Crawford and Clarice Starling looking over papers and doing autopsies for the Buffalo Bill investigation. It can be a little slow at certain points, but besides that, I have nothing.
This is one of the best films ever made. It has some of the greatest acting, characters and directing ever put to film.
I will give it a Sweet rating. Age range is 17+. Do not let anyone below 13 watch this.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
"The Silence of the Lambs"
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Rated R for strong bloody violence, scary themes and images, sexual content, language, disturbing themes, thematic elements
Released on February 14, 1991
1 hour and 58 minutes
Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling
Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter
Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford
Ted Levine as Jame Gumb/Buffalo Bill
Brooke Smith as Catherine Martin
Anthony Heald as Dr. Frederick Chilton