The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Director: Jonathan Demme
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Scott Glenn and Ted Levine
Synopsis: Promising FBI Academy student Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is pulled from her training at the FBI Training Facility at Quantico, Virginia by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, who tasks her with presenting a VICAP questionnaire to the notorious Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant forensic psychiatrist and incarcerated cannibalistic serial murderer. After learning the assignment relates to the pursuit of vicious serial killer Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), Starling travels to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and is led by Dr. Frederick Chilton to Hannibal Lecter. Although initially pleasant and courteous, Lecter grows impatient with Starling’s attempts at “dissecting” him and viciously rebuffs her. As Starling departs, Lecter offers a riddle containing information about a former patient. The solved riddle leads to a rent-a-storage lot where the severed head of Benjamin Raspail is found. Starling returns to Lecter, who links Raspail to Buffalo Bill and who offers to help profile Buffalo Bill if he is transferred to a facility far from the venomous Dr. Chilton. Buffalo Bill abducts Catherine Martin, the daughter of United States Senator Ruth Martin. At Quantico, as news of Catherine Martin’s abduction sweeps the country, Crawford authorizes Starling to offer Hannibal Lecter a fake deal promising a prison transfer if he provides information that helps profile Buffalo Bill and rescue Catherine Martin. Instead, Lecter begins a game of quid pro quo with Starling, offering comprehensive clues and insights about Buffalo Bill in exchange for events from Starling’s traumatic childhood. Unaware to both Starling and Lecter, Dr. Frederick Chilton tapes the conversation and after revealing Starling’s deal as a sham, offers to transfer Lecter in exchange for a deal of his own making. Lecter agrees and following a flight to Tennessee reveals Buffalo Bill’s real name, physical description and past address to Senator Martin and her entourage of FBI agents and Justice Department officials. As the manhunt begins, Starling travels to Lecter’s special cell in a local Tennessee courthouse, where she confronts him about the false information he gave the Senator. Lecter refuses Starling’s pleas and demands she finish her story surrounding her worst childhood memory. Later that evening, Lecter escapes from his cell. After notified of Lecter’s escape, Starling pores over her case file, analyzing Lecter’s annotations before realizing that the first victim, Frederica Bimmel, knew Bill in real life before he decided to lill her. Realizing that Buffalo Bill is a tailor fashioning a “woman suit” of real skin, she telephones Crawford, who is already on the way to make an arrest, having cross-referenced Lecter’s notes with Johns Hopkins Hospital and finding a man named James Gumb. Crawford instructs Starling to continue interviewing Bimmel’s friends while he leads a SWAT team to Gumb’s business address in Calumet City, Illinois. Starling’s interviews lead to the house of “Jack Gordon,” who Starling soon realizes is not who he claims to be.
Trivia: Dino De Laurentiis, who had produced “Manhunter”, passed on Silence of the Lambs because Manhunter had flopped. He gave the rights away free to Orion Pictures. The Tobacco horn worm moths used throughout the film were given celebrity treatment by the filmmakers. They were flown first class to the set (in a special carrier), had special living quarters (rooms with controlled humidity and heat) and were dressed in carefully designed costumes (body shields bearing a painted skull and crossbones)
How scary is this really?: This movie is amazing and one of my all time favourites. This movie doesn’t really frighten me anymore but it definitely did the first time I did. Anthony Hopkins is brilliant in his signature role and Jodie Foster is great in as Clarice. This is a great Halloween film even if you’ve seen it a ton of times already.