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Silence of the lambs

 

  • Film: Silence of the lambs
  • Director / Studio: Jonathan Demme
  • Genre: Psychological horror-thriller
  • Year: 1991
  • Duration: 118 minutes
  • Rated R: Nudity,

Suspenseful thriller to capture a serial killer

A young F.B.I. trainee (Jodie Foster) must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer (Sir Anthony Hopkins) to help catch Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), a serial killer who skins his victims.

Hannibal is in control even though he is the one that is restrained. 🤐

CONCEPT

We begin with a woman going through a training course early in the morning. She appears tired but her second wind allows her to continue pushing forward. The fog blocks the view but it only encourages her. “Sterling!”A man yells from behind calls out. As he approaches he mentions that a Dr. Crawford wants to see her.

Still in her sweats, we notice her walking through an FBI academy. She’s a hardworking woman in an institution mostly run by men. She enters the main offices and waits. Looking around, her eyes catch a glimpse of photographs hanging on the wall depicting an investigation of a homicide.

Looking around, Clarice catches a glimpse of photographs depicting a homicide investigation. 🔎📰

Dr. Crawford walks in apologizing for having called her in from the course. He mentions she’s a successful student and she humbly replies to his compliments. He offers a job interviewing serial killers in custody to help in unsolved cases. Most of the subjects have been willing to discuss their mind towards the FBI but the one they most want to understand refuses to cooperate. The patient name is Hannibal Lecter.

“Hannibal the Cannibal.”

He asks that if Sterling accepts, her objective is to oversee his behavior and deliver a report. While above all telling her to be very careful in following all the instructions that will be given to protect her from harm.

She arrives to the clinical asylum to meet Dr. Chilton, the head of the institution with a rather maniacal attitude towards his patients, referring to Hannibal in particular as a valuable asset. He begins to flatter Sterling but she keeps her distance by standing instead of sitting. Sterling insists to report quickly.

He escorts her down the corridors and begins to explain rules of the safety procedures. As they walk the atmosphere becomes intense. The asylum hasn’t able to study Hannibal. He mentions that Hannibal once complained of pains and had his mouth piece removed. When the nurse leaned over him, she had her jaw destroyed and lost an eye. His pulse never went above 85, even when he ate her tongue. People describe Hannibal to be nothing more than a monster.

As they approach his cell, Sterling takes a minute to view the security room. As she turns around the camera faces a man. He states that his name is Barney. After having met Dr. Chilton, we are introduced to a gentle, honest man. The music changes comfortingly and gives her encouragement. She walks down the hall to notice cells of tormented souls staring at her.

We are presented to a finely groomed man standing in the last cell. He asks for her credentials and they make eye contact with each other as if peering each others soul. Hannibal is intelligent, being able to detect what toiletries Sterling uses even if she hasn’t applied them that day. He seems not only astonished but disrespected by Dr. Jack Crawford sending a student to his cell. He mocks her stating that everyone must be more interested in capturing Buffalo Bill.

Hannibal and Clarice engage in eye contact. 👁👁

As she passes him the questionnaire Hannibal he feels more displeased. He begins to belittle Clarice by analyzing her clothes, her looks, accent and background. She replies firmly back and he sends the documents. She decides not to pick them up and walks away. A mentally ill person is masterbating a few cells down and throws semen at Clarice’s hair. Another cellmate complains and Hannibal calls Agent sterling over apologizing for that person’s behavior. Adding that he’ll give her an “advancement” in her career by offering her a clue for her investigation.

“Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me.”

Clarice comes out distraught. Her eyes watering as she walks over to her car. She begins to have flashbacks of herself as a young girl watching her father, a sheriff, pull up from the driveway. We return to present day and see Clarice having a breakdown outside her car.

The next scene we see Clarice back on her feet at a firing range and going through training exercises. As she catches up on her investigations, Crawford calls to say that the cellmate committed suicide after Hannibal spoke with him. Her clues from Hannibal led her closer to under covering who Buffalo Bill is. In return for his assistance, he offers to help capture Buffalo Bill in exchange for a transfer to another institution with a view.

The scene cuts and we’re introduced to a woman singing cheerfully while driving at night. She parks her car and walks towards her front door of her house. She notices a man with a broken arm attempting to lift furniture into his truck. She offers to help him and enters the vehicle to pick up the furniture. She is knocked out and taken away.

Sterling is one again in training when they interrupt her to accompany Jack Crawford on an excursion out of town related to the Buffalo Bill case. She states her findings and theories of the case to Crawford on their way. When they arrive to the morgue Crawford solicits the sheriff to discuss the information in another room due to the sex crime. Clarice is once again a strong lone woman in a mans world.

She has another flashback in the funeral home. Her younger self walks closer to the casket to recall a memory of peering over her father. We return to the present where Clarice must once again take charge by politely asking the male officers to leave the room as they’re only drinking coffee and causing distractions.

A small team begins to analyze the corpse noticing that the skin has been removed. After taking photographs of the victims teeth, Clarice noticed polaroids show an object lodged in the back of her throat. A man pull outs to what appears to be a bug cocoon. She takes it to be analyzed at a local museum discovering the moths are imported from Asia.

The scene changes and we’re viewing a room full of agents. Clarice is walking through the halls of the academy with her classmate. A tv is turned on to show the mother of Catherine, the woman who was kidnapped by Buffalo Bill, pleading for his mercy to let his daughter go. Clarice continues to visit Hannibal. In exchange for information of Buffalo Bill, Hannibal requires Clarice to talk about worst childhood memories from them to continue.

Dr. Chilton has been eavesdropping on their conversations. He finds out that the agreement for a transfer was false and instead makes a new deal to have him be transferred somewhere else but only if he is able to provide information on Buffalo Bills whereabouts. Hannibal says he will only to the senator. Dr. Chilton uses this to gain expose and credibility for himself and is institution.

Crawford receives a call being notified that Sterling found out everything was a lie and is upset. Clarice arrives at the new place where Hannibal is being kept. After having spoken one last time, she is asked to leave. Hannibal murders two officers and makes a daring escape. He’s always a step ahead of everyone else.

What an incredible scene! This is one of the most ingenious plot twists to ever been played on cinema. 😱👏

Clarice continues to make an advancement through Hannibal’s cryptic messages. Sterling continues her investigate interviewing close relative of the past victims leading her to discovering Buffalo Bill creates woman bodysuits out of his victims. Her trail has her arriving to another house where she is greeted by strange man with a speech impediment. A moth flies and lands on a set of yarn. Clarice takes off the safety of her gun and asks to use the phone. As the man snickers, she takes out her gun and he runs for the basement.

“We covet what we see everyday.”

Without backup, Clarice continues to walk down and finds Catherine screaming. The whole area goes dark. Bill tries to touch her while using night vision but doesn’t. The moment Bill clocks his gun, Clarice turns around quickly enough to shoot blindly. The case is solved and she is recognized as a hero.

We later see Clarice graduating from the academy. She receives a phone call as she celebrates. Hannibal is on the other line and congratulates her. Dressed and appearing differently. He hangs up saying he’s going to have a friend for dinner. Dr. Chilton be seen exiting a plane with Hannibal trailing behind him.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter hangs up and begins to follow Dr. Chilton. 🕴

DESIGN

The film does a very good job portraying the inequality of women and how they’re looked down upon even if they try to prove themselves as equals towards their peers. In many instances, Clarice has to face sexual harassment on various levels and not taken seriously in the work environment. Agent Sterling is in love with her career and strives to always be the top in her class. She’s had to soar above and beyond the majority of her other classmates. As a woman she’s more physically capable to resolve problems instead of appearing helpless and she is ingenious enough to resolve situations when they seem difficult. Even in life or death decisions, Clarice is nervous but courageous.

Clarice is a woman working hard to prove to herself she’s just as capable to do everything a man can do and more. 🏃‍♀️👊

Beautiful perspective noticing the world from Clarice’s eyes. Once again, Clarice has to take charge being a strong willed woman surviving in a man’s world while always being polite. 🕵️‍♀️👌

AESTHETICS

Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for Best Actor for portraying his role as Hannibal Lecter (that only appeared on screen for an estimated 18 minutes) in 1992. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most complexly fascinating villains because even while he’s restrained he’s the only one in control of the scene. When Hannibal meets with Senator Martin he is the one creating adjusting the pace of the conversation, the terms of agreement for his service while insulting the Senator. “When your little girl is on the slab, where would it tickle you?” He is saying that if she lost her daughter, as close to her as a part of herself, she would still feel her presence. Mocking the relationship between a mother breast feeding her child resulting in toughened nipples.

As she leaves Hannibal says,“Love your suit”, he was subliminally giving Senator Martin the idea of what Buffalo Bill was in the process of doing to her daughter Catherine. Making his “suit” from human skin. When her pupils darkened, Lecter took a single sip of her pain and found it exquisite. That was enough for today.

That slide of the finger always gives me goosebumps. 👉👈

VALUE

A truly brilliant performance done by Sir Anthony Hopkins. I cannot imagine any other actor playing that role. He was born to play this role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. This is one of the movies that really has done well in its lighting, the score, and great dialogue exchanged between characters Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. The chemistry between the two actors is amazing and pulls the audience into their conversations. This was Hopkins in his very prime and a league of his own taking control of the scenes with such authority. You’ll feel riveted by how Hannibal feels a connection with Clarice as she is an orphan like himself.

Hopkins really delivers the overpowering menace that Lecter has in this scene and it evokes the impression that even though he is holed up in a giant cage his presence extends beyond the cages and walls that contain him. Even his jailers look and feel more trapped by their task than he is by his being imprisoned.

Concept9.5
Design9.5
Aesthetics10
Value9.5
Positive
Amazing performances by both Sir. Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster garnered them Oscars
Iconic scene of Buffalo Bill dancing to 'Goodbye Horses' by Q Lazzarus
Incredible plot twists
Dialogue is spot on and engaging
The portray of inequality for women in the work force is a powerful message
Negative
Some minor differences are left out from the book
9.6
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