Oh boy, I haven’t been going through these as fast as I wanted to but it can be a lot to go through.
The silence of the lambs is the first Lecter media that I was introduced to a long time ago. It tells the story of a young FBI trainee called Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster) who is tasked by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) to visit and question a notorious prisoner called Hannibal Lecter, the intelligent psychiatrist known for killing and eating multiple people.
Dr. Lecter takes a liking to Clarice and decides to help her with the FBI’s most difficult case – the capture of Buffalo Bill the latest and most dangerous serial killer still at large. But he does not offer his help for free, in return he has some terms of his own.
As a huge fan of both the character and the main cast of the movie, it is hard to be unbiased but as always I do try my best so I will be blunt. This is not the best movie, nor one of my top 5 movies but it is a fantastic and timeless work of art. Much like the TV show, it has one of the best duels of wits shown, only the movie has a few key differences.
Our two “players” if you could call them that are Clarice and Dr. Lecter. The doctor is presented to us as a vile and degenerate monster even before he appears on the screen. Either by the stories of other characters or the structure of the scene. For example, when Clarice is walking up to his cell we see a few other prisoners in the cells before him, each worse than the previous one. Thus showing us that the “man” at the end of the hallways is something much worse than we could ever expect.
On the other side, we have Clarice. She is a small-town girl who is trying to hide her roots in fear that it may damage her credibility. She works harder than most people around her and is one of the most talented cadets in the academy but yet her past still seems to haunt her. On top of that, she is constantly being stared down by the men around her, whether they are FBI agents, police officers, or random pedestrians.
But when they both meet each other we see that both parties are not what they seem. Lecter ends up being completely opposite of what you would expect. He is calm, composed, polite, and even charming. But still, there is something in his eyes that reminds you that he is, in fact, a monster. He even manages to easily take control of the situation and seemingly hold all of the power in their conversation. Camera-wise he is being shown with an extreme close up and Clarice is usually sitting down or away from the center of the shot.
But all that changes when she starts to shift the narrative. At certain points of the time, she manages to get the upper hand on him and catch him off guard. This is where she manages to get what she needs. But even so, Hannibal has made it so that he always gets what he wants and does what he wants. And this is what made him such a terrifying an iconic character. How would someone locked behind bars hold any power over anyone?
Lecter was on the screen for a very short time compared to the actual length of the movie and yet he became one of the most iconic villains ever. This is largely due to the great directing of Jonathan Demme and a perfect performance by Hopkins.
But I do not want to overshadow Clarice either. Clarice is one of my favorite female characters ever. Her character tackles issues that other women would tackle in real life so that gives her a lot of realism but she is also brilliant and captivating herself. The way that the movie is filmed lets us bond with her character a lot more than in most movies. The dialogue is filmed in a way that is rarely seen in other movies. Each time a character speaks the camera focuses heavily on them and it lets us feel what they are feeling thus adding even more realism. And even so, with me loving her as a character I can’t help but dislike the fact that they are making “Clarice” the TV show. I have no doubt that it could be fantastic and I will probably enjoy it and maybe love it but it feels like a slap to the face to fans of the Hannibal TV show who have been waiting for any news of a possible fourth season.
This and more things that I could ramble on about for a long time make this movie such a masterpiece. Buffalo Bill himself was a fascinating character worth writing an entire post for as well. But I will be saving some things for when I eventually write my Hannibal comparison post, till then I would love to hear your thoughts on it. If I would have to pick some negatives though it would have to be the fact that some scenes drag out more than they should and the ending maybe could have been handled better but it was still a great ending.
Final verdict: 9/10