The Silence of the Lambs

Review #60
Orion, 1991
Mov No. 30301
Genre: Horror
Directed by: Jonathan Demme
Staring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine
Oscars: 5 Wins (Picture, Lead Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Lead Actress (Jodie Foster), Director, Adapted Screenplay) 7 Nominations (Film Editing, Sound)
AFI 100 years, 100 _____ tributes: Heroes & Villains (#1, Villain Hannibal Lecter); Thrills (#5); Heroes & Villains (#6, Hero Clarice Starling); Quotes (#21); Movies (#65), Movie 10th Aniv. (#74)
Runtime: 1h 58min
AFI Quote #21: "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." - Dr. Hannibal Lecter

Rating: 5/5


He stands there as she walks in, arms at his side, a queer little smile on his face. He knows that she is wearing Evian skin cream. He is polite and charming and well groomed. But there is an eerie quality about him. Looking at him for the first time you'd never guess that he is a cold, calculating, manipulative serial killer. He, of course, is Dr. Hannibal (the cannibal) Lecter.

Lecter is the most vicious, wildest, worst villain Hollywood has ever produced. He is a character parodied time after time, yet this maniacal serial killer is integral to this story and the main reason The Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest films ever made.

There is a serial killer on the loose who skins his victims He has been nicknamed Buffalo Bill (Scott Glenn). The FBI is baffled, and they send in rookie agent Clarice Starling to help on the case.

Clarice (Jodie Foster) is a young agent who is tops in her class in criminal profiling. When assigned to the case, she is given the task of talking to the most vicious of all serial killers to get an idea of what Buffalo Bill is up to. That serial killer is Dr. Hannibal (the cannibal) Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).

Through various meetings, Clarice and Dr. Lecter form an uneasy relationship. In exchange for information about Clarice's past, Dr. Lecter reveals tidbits about who Buffalo Bill may be and where he may be found.

Lecter's demands increase, and after a transfer of prisons, Dr. Lecter escapes custody. But Lecter is able to help Clarice gather the missing clues to finally track down Buffalo Bill.

DO NOT watch The Silence of the Lambs alone or in the dark because it is one HELL of a scary movie!

Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins give amazing performances that will leave you scared to death or cheering. Buffalo Bill, played by Scott Glenn, is a cross dressing "freak" (so to speak), and looks and acts the part with a freaky quality almost equal to Hopkin's. He stands over a pit containing his victim, make up'd like a whore, stroking his poodle. The girl screams. "It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again," he says once. The girlís cries, and he scream the line back to her.

The man is so creepy to watch itís a wonder that his scenes were even filmed. Hell, a man who makes clothing out of human skin is creepy in every sense. The fact that this really happened, that an actual serial killer did this is unimaginable. How he was not nominated for a supporting Oscar is another mystery of the Academy.

And as for Jodie Foster, it is inconceivable that a rookie agent would be given a case so prominent and so important, but when you are the best of the best, you are sometimes called on to use your above average abilities.

To some, the final showdown between Starling and Buffalo Bill is phoney, but if you look at it is a masterpiece of cinema. You can she that Foster's Clarice is scared as hell trying to capture the killer, and when the lights go off, we too are scared. We want to see Clarice save the day. When the dust settles, you stop shaking and your pulse slows to a snail's pace.

The movie is fast paced and brilliantly directed by Jonathan Demme, who wisely keeps Hopkins from taking Hannibal Lecter over the top; as the saying goes, a little goes a long way, and he does give Hopkins so slack. But just enough to make the character even more menacing than we first realize.

Demme keeps the film going until the brilliant conclusion, at which time we let out a sigh of relief. The Killer is finally caught!

Lambs was scheduled for an October release in 1990 but Orion Pictures chose to lay on thick the promotion for Dances with Wolves, which went on to win seven Oscars. Lambs was released in January, 1991, and stayed with the public for months. Lambs bucked the trend that films released early in the year don't fare well at the Oscars. Perhaps it was Jodie Foster's brilliant turn as the rookie agent. Perhaps it was Scott Glenn's creepy Buffalo Bill. Without a doubt it was Anthony Hopkin's Hannibal the Cannibal that stayed in the public's imaginations and kept the film so popular. He is the worst villain ever filmed. This will be the character all future horror villains will be based on. Fava beans, anyone?

Updated: 06-04-10


Anthony Hopkins

DOB: December 31, 1937

Age at win: 54

Nominated for: Best Actor in a Leading Role, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs

Nomination: 1/4 (acting), 1/4 (total); Win: Only

Anthony Hopkins is absolutely scary as Hannibal (the cannibal) Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Hopkins plays the part with a British distinction, and yet you get the eerie feeling that you are not safe around him.

From one point you feel that Dr. Lecter is a nice British gentleman, but then you see his true colors when you here him utter those immortal words, "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

Anthony Hopkins is totally evil as Dr. Lecter, but you wouldn't guess it from just looking at him. He is nice and neat and well groomed, and even polite, too. But underneath the skin is a monster waiting for the right moment to jump out. No one could have done a better job filling this character's shoes than him. The combination of the Britishness and improve make this an absolutely outstanding performance. It will be the performance all horror villains are henceforth judged on.

Anthony Hopkin's performance

Updated: 06-04-10


Jodie Foster

DOB: November 19, 1962;

Age at win: 29

Nominated for: Best Actress in a Leading Role, Clarice Starling, The Silence of the Lambs

Nomination: 3/4 (acting), 3/4 (total); Win: 2nd

Jodie Foster gives a believable performance as the rookie FBI agent in The Silence of the Lambs. At first you may not think it believable that a rookie would get such an important case, but then stranger things have happened.

Foster's on-screen chemistry with Hopkins is excellent and helps to make the film what it is. Hopkins and Foster could have had a whole other movie made with just them talking back and forth and it still would have had the same emotional impact that The Silence of the Lambs had on its audience.

When we see Foster on-screen trembling with fear, it is genuine fear. She is terrified to death, scared at the prospect of being captured by Buffalo Bill, yet wants so badly to save the girls life and become a hero. And it's no wonder because of the subject matter involved in this film.

Foster's Clarice Starling will go down as one of the greatest female heroes in motion picture history.

Jodie Foster's performance

Updated: 06-04-10