The Silence Of The Lambs

The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Image Entertainment
Cast: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn

Based on the best-selling novel by Thomas Harris, "The Silence of the Lambs" took home five Oscars (Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Writing for a Screenplay Based on Another Medium) in 1992. What made this movie so memorable? Was it Jodie Foster’s stellar performance as the FBI agent-in-training? Was it Jonathan Demme’s superb direction? Or was it Anthony Hopkins’s brilliant portrayal of the psychotic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter? The answer is all three – and more. This movie captured the hearts and minds of America for a reason: It is a startling exploration of the underside of the American psyche and its fascination with serial killers and their motivations.

Jodie Foster plays Clarice Starling, a young woman driven to the FBI by her love of justice , the desire to honor her law-keeping father, and a horror that lies in her past. Fresh from college, she is eager to devote her time to the psychology of criminals and their capture. She earns her chance just before she finishes her training.

Summoned by her boss, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) to research the case of the serial killer dubbed Buffalo Bill – due to his penchant for skinning his victims – she attempts to enlist the aid of another imprisoned serial killer: Hannibal Lecter, an eminent psychiatrist noted for his penchant of killing and eating people. Starling finds herself as a pawn used in a game between Crawford and Lecter – and quickly learns that she must earn Lecter’s grudging respect before the killer will help her with her case. Thus begins a brilliant study of psychology and a game of cat-and-mouse between Lecter and Starling – a convoluted game with rules that are clearly understood only by the incarcerated psychiatrist. They trade her personal information with his clues; he bases his answers on her psychology, forcing her to exercise her own mental prowess in order to understand the hints he’s giving her.

In the meantime, Buffalo Bill has kidnapped the daughter of a Senator, preparing her for his own ghoulish rituals. However, this seems almost a side-plot when compared to the excellent chemistry between Hopkins and Foster – while Buffalo Bill might be the focus of the case, the focus of the movie is clearly on the interaction between Starling and Lecter. Still, the movie manages to tie these two threads together brilliantly, resulting a pair of climaxes for the two storylines that is nothing short of masterful. Be warned, however, that the movie does not spare the viewer. There are scenes of exceedingly grisly content that may cause discomfort for some individuals. Though these scenes are not as blatant as some you might find in other movies, they’re twice as effective because of their delivery. It provides the gory details where necessary for the story, without gratuitous bloodshed. While it’s not a full-on gross-out movie, neither is it a movie for the squeamish.

"The Silence Of The Lambs" has made a good transition to DVD. The colors are rich and saturated without noise, bleeding, or <$pixelation,pixelation>. The disc contains the original theatrical 1.85:1 <$PS,widescreen> version, which is extremely sharp and very rich in detail, even in the dark scenes towards the end of the movie.

The movie features an unobtrusive and atmospheric <$DS,Dolby Surround> soundtrack that perfectly underscores the images on screen. "The Silence Of The Lambs" comes only in its original English version. Strangely, the usually supplied French version is missing, as well as subtitles. So, while the movie and the transfer are excellent, the supplemental material and presentation are not quite so convincing. But then again, we are buying the movie in the first place, not the gimmicks, right? This movie won five Oscars, and for good reason. With its exploration of the psychology of serial killers and the demonstration of this mindset in practice, with the interaction between Hopkins and Foster, with the excellent direction of Demme, and with the brilliant conversion of the novel into a screenplay by Ted Tally, it spawned a tide of similar movies, some of which were masterful, some of which were truly horrid. Few, if any, reach the goal set by "Silence of the Lambs." It’s that good. This movie is a must-see!