Director – Jonathan Demme
Cast – Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Ted Levine, Frankie Fiason, Kasi Lemmons, Brooke Smith, Paul Lazar, Dan Butler
Release Year – 1991
Reviewed by John of the Dead
To this day The Silence of the Lambs remains the only horror/thriller film to receive the “grand slam” at the Academy Awards. This film took home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress and solidified itself as the most critically acclaimed(and perhaps the greatest) horror/thriller of all time. Amazing direction, writing, atmosphere, and acting make this film an incredible and nearly flawless watch that will leave you in amazement at the genius and charisma of one of cinema’s greatest villains of all time…Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
This film stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Sterling, a young and aspiring FBI trainee looking to make her way into the Behavioral Sciences division in the bureau. She is pulled from training one day and given the task of meeting and interviewing a former psychiatrist turned cannibal murderer named Hannibal Lecter(Anthony Hopkins) for documentation purposes. The task seems simple until Ms. Foster realizes that Mr. Lecter may have knowledge on a current serial killer terrorizing the area by skinning young chunky girls for yet to be known reasons. In order for the young trainee to get any help from Mr. Lecter she is going to have to play his little “game”. Determined to secure her career in the FBI, she takes on Mr. Lecter and enters a game that has left many contestants not only dead…but in his stomach.
Based on the novel of the same name by author Thomas Harris, this flick prospers in areas that so many others do not. The direction is superb and director Jonathan Demme uses great shots, pacing, and an excellent musical score to move this film perfectly and personify the solemn and gritty tone that should come with a serial killer type plot. This film’s story is an excellent one and will especially please those looking to view a film that will make them “think” a bit. I believe every viewer of this film puts themselves in Clarice Sterling’s shoes and tries to dissect Hannibal Lecter and figure out the next steps in the film before they happen.
The dialogue in this film is superb and the conversations between Lecter and Sterling are what carry this film. They happen sparingly but every second of the conversation pulls the viewer closer into the film thanks to perfectly chosen words and Jonathan Demme’s direction during the scenes. The ongoing pseudo sub-plot of the “Buffalo Bill” killer adds another aspect of grit into the film aside from Lecter’s horrid past and current “hunger”. Jonathan Demme’s use of these two intertwining plots (one being Sterling using Lecter to catch the killer, and the second being the killer himself and why he does what he does) is done right and mixes very effectively. The story doesn’t get too cloudy like other films that try this two-plot concept and force the viewer into a convoluted story so hard to decipher that it becomes unenjoyable.
Aside from these great elements the use of characters is definitely this film’s strongest point. Jodie Foster gets the lead credits in this film and she actually did a pretty good job as the young trainee. She had a genuine look of nervousness and fear in her expressions every time she dealt with Mr. Lecter and aside from her fake West Virginian accent I believe she nailed her role. However the real star of this film is Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, hands down. The role of Hannibal Lecter requires the ability to be sophisticatedly creepy while still garnering respect and sub-conscious admiration. Anthony Hopkins filled this role perfectly and gave quite possibly the most “chilling” acting performance of all time. From his voice to his eyes to his body movements Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter disperses through the film and forces the viewer to realize that Lecter is the true villain, not the sub-par hack who is skinning chubbies in his dungeon. Would you like more proof of just how powerful Anthony Hopkins’ performance was? His Oscar winning portrayal of Lecter has the lowest ever on-screen time of any Oscar winner, clocking in at a mere 20 minutes! Case closed.
Overall, I highly recommend this film to everyone reading given that this is simply one of the best films of all time.
– Acclaimed directors George A. Romero and Roger Corman both have cameos in this film.