The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

15 Sep

Far from your typical detective story, Director Jonathan Demme‘s 1991 masterpiece helped to refine the genre. Based on a novel of the same name by Thomas Harris, Demme’s adaptation successfully takes us on a thrilling but dark journey into a territory so rarely explored in cinema: the bleak recesses of the human mind.

Part Freudian mystery, part crime thriller, Silence of the Lambs first introduces us to our protagonist, Clarice Starling, an aspiring FBI agent currently finishing training. Played by Jodie Foster in her most iconic role to date, Clarice is fearless, smart and tactile as she tries to put together the clues and help catch a mysterious serial killer known as Buffalo Bill. In order to do so, however, she must enter and dismantle the mind of the brilliant but ruthless Dr. Hannibal Lecter (in another iconic performance from Anthony Hopkins) who is being held in a high-security prison for multiple murders.

“Do you know why they call him ‘Buffalo Bill'”? He asks Clarice, during their first encounter together. “It started as a bad joke,” she replies. “It’s because he always skins his humps”.

The personal exchanges between Clarice and Hannibal are the film’s heartbeat and give us tremendous insight into the multiple layers of their characters, including Hannibal’s immense knowledge of psychology and his ability to manipulate others. This is contrasted with Clarice’s desire to rid herself of her own demons, and take on the daunting responsibility of being a new female FBI agent.

Both Hopkins and Foster received Oscars for their work, and rightfully so. Universally acclaimed as one of the best films from the 90’s, Silence of the Lambs also took home awards for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture.

Besides its influence on everything from The Dark Knight to the hit HBO series True Detective, the film helped highlight our culture’s fascination with serial killers, and the complex and horrifying psychology that accompanies them. Silence of the Lambs is, in my opinion, a great film because of its bold ability to introspectively examine the inner emotions, thoughts, and motivations that lay buried deep in the heart of human beings – despite what horrors might eventually be unearthed there.


Clarice Starling

Clarice Starling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)











Rating: 10/10

Similar to: Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011), Se7en (1995), True Detective (2014) 

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