Dir. Jonathan Demme; Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins and Scott Glenn
Currently on Rotten Tomatoes’ Top 100 Horror Movies list
There’s not one person in the English speaking world who hasn’t heard of Hannibal Lecter. Whether they’ve watched any of the movies, seen the more recent TV show Hannibal, read the books or simply heard of “Hannibal the Cannibal” by word of mouth, it is highly likely that most people you’ve met have some knowledge of the notorious cannibalistic psychopath. Hell, before I had any knowledge of the books or movies, I thought Hannibal Lecter was a real person who might come to eat me at night. I had nightmares about it. It was a problem.
The Silence of the Lambs was the second movie made from Thomas Harris’ popular book series after Manhunter (1986). Released in 1991, the movie follows Clarice Starling (Foster), an FBI Cadet pulled from the Academy by Jack Crawford (Glenn) and assigned to interact with the convicted Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins). It is Starling’s goal to gain insight into another killer, nicknamed Buffalo Bill (Ted Lavine), through her interactions with the famed cannibal.
This movie is amazing for so many reasons. The first reason is simply: Clarice Starling. Not only is she a strong and independent lead female character, but she’s also a complete badass. Starling is a role model for every girl out there who wants to be a cop or an agent and Jodie Foster played her perfectly. The acting in this movie in general was superb. Anthony Hopkins is the scariest Hannibal I’ve ever seen and Ted Levine’s Buffalo Bill is delightfully deranged. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins both earned their Academy Awards for these roles.
The script has many memorable lines. Even people who haven’t seen the movie have heard “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti” and “It rubs the lotion in its skin or it gets the hose again!” It’s the sign of a good script when, 24 years later, the general population is still quoting it. Not only that, but the level of intelligence displayed by this film is so well done. Hannibal is an intelligently written character designed to enter our worst nightmares. Also, Starling is a well-rounded character who, unlike most female characters of the time, is able to hold up her end of a clever conversation. No wonder they won an Academy Award for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay.
The Silence of the Lambs deserved its many awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. It’s an extremely well done movie. While the plot itself isn’t exactly scary, the movie introduces one of the most frightening villains of all time, Hannibal Lecter, who would go on to appear in such other films as Hannibal, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising. He is also the subject of Bryan Fuller’s recently canceled NBC show Hannibal.
If you haven’t seen The Silence of the Lambs – or any of the other Thomas Harris based movies and TV shows – I highly recommend it.