I felt like a kid in a candy store after watching The Silence of the Lambs. I remember watching this movie for the first time when it first came out in 1991. I loved watching a woman be the heroine of the story and face the big bad psychopath who could at times be so darn charming. It still thrills me to sit and watch this movie even though I know what is going to happen. The film follows Clarice Starling as she is finishing up her training to become an FBI field agent. She is literally used as bait to get Dr. Hannibal Lector to talk. It works, but it places her in a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
One of the things I loved about this movie is the fact that Clarice can go toe to toe with Lector. Clarice doesn’t sugar coat her feelings, and I think that is what gives her the ability to combat Lector. Lector who is insightful into the human psyche and can take anything about a person and turn it against them is a formidable foe.
There is a frankness in Clarice’s character that still allows us to know her and see her for who she is. I think that is what attracts Lector to her. I don’t mean sexually, but more of an intellectual way. There is almost a professional respect between the two of them. Clarice does try to trick him with the deal to help find Buffalo Bill, but there is a moment in the film where this amuses Lector.
Anthony Hopkins did a phenomenal job portraying Lector. He said in the interview that he had to play this character just right or he would come off as cartoonish (I am paraphrasing here). I personally don’t think the other actors they had looked at for Lector would have been able to pull this off.
I thought the interview with Jodie Foster was an interesting insight into the actress. She campaigned to have the role when the director was focused on another actress who turned it down. I loved how Jodie took the time think about who Clarice was and bring the character to life. It was clear that she respected Clarice. I think this was crucial for us as the viewer to care about what happens to her.
This may sound odd to say, but the most endearing scenes in the movie is where Clarice goes to see lector in his makeshift cell. I think this scene goes back to the respect she has for him. Clarice knew him for what he was, but there was never a point in the way she presented herself that was false. When advised not to let him inside her head she did it anyway. I think Clarice knew that if she didn’t answer him honestly, he would shut down on her. I don’t know if I could be that brave, but she was able to get past all his games and tricks he used to keep the good detectives and doctors away. She for one knows that he can help her and the information he gave everyone else is false. The fact that she was able to see through his rouse made Clarice a worthy opponent for Lector.
The way the director cut from Buffalo Bill’s house to the other house had me on pins and needles. It was a great way to build the tension in the movie. Building on that scene is where Clarice finds Buffalo Bill. She is just following up on a blind lead and unwittingly enters the killers home. The way Clarice is portrayed in the movie, I think, is very true to the character and is believable how someone would respond. I would be terrified knowing that I was in pursuit of the killer alone with no backup and of course there were no cell phones to send a quick text my boss. She tries to be brave, but you can tell she is scared out of her mind. Yet, Clarice prevails and saves the daughter. Clarice becomes the knight in shining armor to rescue the damsel. I loved the fact that she was able to do it alone with no one else to help her.
This is one of my favorite movies both for horror and just suspenseful drama. I don’t think I will ever tire of watching this movie. I want to go back and watch the other ones now because they are all just so good.