The Silence of The Lambs: Film Critique
ENG 225 Intro to Film
Instructor: Julie Pal-Agrawal
June 25, 2012
It is uncommon in our day to find horror movies that can compare to the critically acclaimed film of Jonathan Demme's 1991 The Silence of the Lambs, starring Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the infamous and psychotic cannibal psychiatrist. This movie, along with Alfred Hitchock's Psycho (1960), is one of limited horror/suspense films recognized by movie critics as one of the greatest American films ever made. Critics had much to say about the “commercialization” of one of the most horrifyingly amazing characters in the history of American theatre, but even ...view middle of the document...
Crawford instructs Clarice to approach the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter, or “Hannibal the Cannibal” as he is well known, and persuade Lecter to provide a profile of Buffalo Bill. Since Clarice is a woman, Crawford believes that Lecter will be willing to open up to her and he is correct. The inquisitive doctor propositions Clarice for a quid pro quo deal. He will share information about Buffalo Bill, but for every piece of information he provides she must provide the doctor with one detail about her past. Lecter anticipates that by helping Clarice get closer to Buffalo Bill, he is also making his way into her psyche. Surprisingly enough, however, Clarice may be doing the same to him. (Berardinelli J., 2000) This film does not revolve so much around the serial killer himself, it focuses mainly on the female cop in training that is assigned to find out more about a serial killer at large by an ex cannibal/Doctor who is now in prison. He is the police only hope in trying to find the killer before he claims his next captive.
The character played by Jodie Foster is not in any way as high-profile as Anthony Hopkins’ work, but the movie could not have been viewed the same without her performance. In her quiet manner, Foster owns her character Clarice and creates of Clarice a human anchor, allowing the audience to travel into the grotesque world and the insane mind of Hannibal Lecter. Clarice represents a woman trying to make it in a man’s world, she is traumatized by memories of the loving father she lost while very young and she is intrigued by the twisted knowledge of Lecter. There is no doubt that the most memorable scenes in the movie are those in which Clarice and Lecter are paired together, the sound is vaguely heard and the intensity of each shot is able to catch all expressions shared between the two characters. One instance is where Clarice’s expression on her face begins to crumble almost immediately when Lecter emotionlessly picks apart every detail of her life. In my opinion, Foster deserves much more credit than given for the success of this film. The combination of her personality and Hopkins experience made the film mesh as well as it did.
The film made the star of the movie Lecter but gave much less attention to the actual murderer that was the point of capture, Buffalo Bill. He is not much of an original murder and because the movie does not go into detail about this characters pathological demented personality, he almost seems to look like an amateur when compared to Lecter. This film was quite unique when compared to prior films as we see that the personality of Ed Gein is split in two different characters. One is the well-known cannibalistic prisoner, Hannibal Lecter and the other the mad man on the loose, Buffalo Bill.
The director of this film, Jonathan Demme, is helped immeasurably by the work of the cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, the production designer Kristi Zea and the editor Craig Mckay. (IMDB, 2000) The Silence of the...