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THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
You see, the one we want most refuses to cooperate. I want you to go after him again today in the asylum.
Who’s the subject?
The psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter.
Hannibal 'the Cannibal'
The little movie with a $22 million dollar budget that came out of nowhere in February of 1991. The film, adapted from the best-selling novel by Thomas Harris, scared audiences who flocked to see it in droves and was praised by critics nationwide for being a smart and taut thriller. The film introduced us to two of cinema’s greatest characters, with Special Agent Clarice Starling (played masterfully by Jodie Foster), and Dr. Hannibal Lecter, whom the chilling Anthony Hopkins of course plays to sheer perfection. Both Foster and Hopkins surprised many during the 1991 Oscar ceremonies by both taking home the Oscar, but the biggest surprise of the night was that THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS won for Best Picture and Best Director (Jonathan Demme). Ted Tally won for Best Adapted Screenplay, and with these wins became the third film in Oscars history to win in the five major awards (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay), right after 1934’s IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and 1975’s ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.
The film also caught fire with audiences worldwide, as people flocked to see the suspense thriller in large numbers. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS was of course a financial and critical success, but also shows that truly great movies have a magnificent staying power. And for the past ten years, Clarice and Lecter have never left the scene.
The film starts off perfectly, with Clarice Starling running through an obstacle course, foreshadowing her future struggle in the film. She is called into the office of Special Agent Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), in the Behavioral Science Services section of the Academy at Quantico. While waiting in his office she notices a wall dedicated to newspaper clippings and reports about a serial killer nicknamed Buffalo Bill. There on the wall lie several grotesque pictures of horribly mutilated women. Crawford enters the office and gets right to the point. Being impressed with her profile, he assigns Clarice to interview the insane Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the Baltimore Asylum. The FBI, stumped by the killings of Buffalo Bill, is attempting to create a psychological profile by interviewing all known serial killers locked up that will help in this case and possibly future cases. Dr. Lecter is the only one unwilling to cooperate, and Crawford sends Clarice in to perform the interview. Given a special badge, a questionnaire and a dossier on Lecter, Clarice heads to the asylum where she is met by the smug Dr. Chilton (Anthony Heald), who makes unpleasant passes on Clarice (Are in Baltimore long? he inquires. Because it can be quite the fun town with the proper guide.). But Clarice, seeing through his obvious flirting, makes it clear she is to investigate Lecter and report back to Quantico as soon as possible.
While heading towards the basement, where Chilton keeps Lecter, he warns her:
Do not touch the glass. Do not approach the glass. You can pass nothing but soft paper. No pencils or pens. No staples or paperclips in his paper. Use the sliding food carrier, no exceptions. If he attempts to pass you anything, do not accept it.
The reasons for such precautions, is that on the afternoon of July 8, 1981, he complained of chest pains and was taken to the dispensary. His mouthpiece and restraints were removed for an EKG. When the nurse leaned over him, he did this to her? The doctors managed to re-set her jaw more or less, and save one of her eyes. His pulse never got above eighty-five, even when he ate her tongue.
The films most classic scene is of course when Clarice is walking down the long, dark hallway towards Lecter’s cell. From her point of view, we see the monster standing perfectly still as if expecting her arrival. He is locked in a glassed-in cage; with the only thing noticeable about the dungeon aside from Lecter himself are his charcoal drawings. Lecter keeps his eyes focused on her, with his chilling and dead eyes and excellent posture. He extends a polite welcome, Good evening
My name is Clarice Starling, may I speak with you?
Lecter insists on Clarice showing him her FBI badge, urging her to step closer to the window. That expires in one week. You’re not real FBI are you? Clarice admits she is only a trainee at the Academy, and a little insulted, Lecter knows that it was Jack Crawford who had sent her to him. I'm here to learn from you. Maybe you can decide for yourself whether or not I'm qualified enough to do that. Lecter begins to take an interest in the young woman, and inquires what Multiple Miggs hissed at her in the next cell over. When Clarice was walking down the hall, Miggs made vile comments towards her. Clarice tells Lecter exactly what was said. Honesty. When she asks about the drawings in the background, Lecter explains that it seen from the Belvedere in Florence. Memory, Lecter admits, is all he has left instead of a view to the outside world. Clarice attempts at humor fail when she foolishly says, Perhaps you can lend us your view on this questionnaire. Lecter is unimpressed, being that she had made a great first impression:
No, no, no, you were doing fine. You had been courteous and receptive to courtesy. You had established trust with the embarrassing truth about Miggs, and now this ham-handed segue into your questionnaire. It won't do.
Lecter knows Crawford has sent his protégé to gain information about Buffalo Bill. He’s interested to know why he’s been nicknamed Buffalo Bill, and Clarice explains it started off as a bad joke in Kansas. They said this one likes to skin his humps.
Lecter sarcastically asks what Clarice thinks about it. It excites him. Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims. When Lecter, with a devilish smile says that he didn’t keep any reminder of his victims, Clarice says, No, you ate yours.
More and more impressed with her straightforward attitude, he asks for her to send in the questionnaire but is merely insulted by what he reads. In another of the films most classic moments, his polite demeanor (before beginning to read the questionnaire he even gives he a little wink), has turned vicious:
Oh Agent Starling, do you think you can dissect me with this blunt little tool? Clarice is caught off guard.
You're so ambitious, aren't you? You know what you look like to me with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well-scrubbed hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition's given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you Agent Starling? And that accent you've tried so desperately to shed, pure West Virginia. What does your father do? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you. All those tedious, sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars, while you could only dream of getting out. Getting anywhere, getting all the way to the F.B.I…
What he is saying obviously has a deep and profound effect on Clarice, as she sits there in a hypnotic state listening to these words that are tearing her character apart. However, she gathers herself together and shoots back:
You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you, why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to
Lecter slides back the questionnaire and looks directly into Clarice’s eyes. A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Lecter dismisses Clarice and turns his back on her (though in the novel he waits until she is gone before he turns around, out of good manners). Clarice walks down the corridor, disappointed by his refusal. But while passing Miggs cell, he throw semen towards her face and hitting her in the hair and forehead. Mortified about what has just happened, Lecter hollers for Clarice to return to him, obviously embarrassed at what has just happened. I would not have had that happen to you. Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me. Though Lecter refuses to do the test, he says he’ll give her advancement and tells her to look deep within herself. He then tells her to go seek out an old patient of his by the name of Ms. Mofet. He then orders her to go. Once outside, the visibly shaken Clarice walks towards her car and memories of her childhood and her father, a deputy come flooding back. She begins to sob by her car.
Later that night Crawford informs Clarice that Lecter, to amuse himself, whispered to Miggs all day and told him to swallow his own tongue. Following up on the Mofet lead is difficult, being that Lecter destroyed everything concerning his patience records before he was captured. However she eventually uncovers the your self reference and that leads her to the Your Self Storage house. She investigates the warehouse and discovers a severed human head in a jar. It’s a mans head and has smeared make-up in it. Clarice rushes back to the asylum to interview Lecter once again. Clarice, wet from the rain outside and suffering from a cut on her leg she got while in the warehouse, sits on the floor in front of Lecter’s cage. It's an anagram isn't it Doctor? Hester Mofet, 'The rest of me. Miss The-Rest-of-Me,' meaning that you rented that garage. Lecter slides a towel through the tray and then comments that her bleeding has stopped. In the films more humorous scene, Lecter explains whose head was in the jar:
His real name is Benjamin Raspail, a former patient of mine whose romantic attachments ran to, shall we say, the exotic. I did not kill him I assure you. Merely tucked him away, very much as I found him after he'd missed three appointments
Clarice wonders who could have killed him if Lecter did not. Who can say? Best thing for him, really. His therapy was going nowhere.
He explains that Raspail was a garden-variety manic-depressive and that he was trying to transform into something else. That he was a transsexual. Lecter than begins to ask Clarice personal questions, to get to know her better through psychoanalysis. He even goes as far as to ask even she believes Crawford is sexually attracted to her and visualizes scenarios. That doesn't interest me doctor. Frankly, it's, it's the sort of thing that Miggs would say
Not anymore Lecter says with restrained glee.
The lights suddenly come on and Clarice notices that Lecter’s drawings and books are gone. Dr. Chilton took them away as punishment for what he did to Miggs. Lecter stands up and begins to discuss Buffalo Bill, but of course makes it clear that he wants a few benefits from helping out. What I want is a view. I want a window where I can see a tree, or even water. I want to be in a federal institution, far away from Dr. Chilton. Lecter said something about a fledgling killer and asks if he’ll kill again. Lecter offers to help Clarice catch Buffalo Bill, and Clarice right off the bat knows that Lecter knows who the killer is. But Lecter of course has no meaning of time, and taunts Clarice:
All good things to those who wait. I've waited, Clarice. But how long can you and old Jacky boy wait? Our little Billy must already be searching for that next special lady.
The next victim is Catherine Martin, daughter of Senator Ruth Martin. While arriving home with a bag of groceries, she notices an obviously handicapped man attempting, and failing, and lifting up a chair and putting it into a van. She offers to help, but once inside the van the man strikes her down and is pleased to learn that the girl is a size fourteen…
Meanwhile, another victim of Buffalo Bill has been found in West Virginia and Crawford and Clarice fly down there. Clarice examines the case file and looking over pictures of the latest victim. Crawford explains:
He keeps them alive for three days. We don't know why. There's no evidence of rape or physical abuse prior to death. All the mutilation you see there is post-mortem. OK. Three days. Then he shoots them, skins them, and dumps them, each body in a different river. The water leaves us no trace evidence of any kind. That's Frederica Bimmel, the first one. Her body was the only one he took the trouble to weight down, so actually she was the third girl found. After her, he got lazy.
While driving towards the funeral home, Crawford asks Clarice what she sees:
He's a white male. Serial killers tend to hunt within their own ethnic groups. He's not a drifter; he's got his own house somewhere, not an apartment. What he does with them takes privacy. He's in his thirties or forties. He's got real physical strength combined with an older man's self-control. He's cautious, precise, and he's never impulsive. He'll never stop.
Why not? Crawford inquires.
He's got a real taste for it now. He's getting better at his work.
Clarice is bothered by the fact that Crawford had sent Clarice in to interview Dr. Lecter without any sort of game plan. She is still bothered by her first encounter with the good doctor. If I'd sent you in there with an actual agenda, Lecter would've known it instantly. He would have toyed with you then turned to stone.
At the funeral home tensions arise between local police officers and the presence of the FBI. Crawford whispers to the officer in charge and goes and talks in private away from Clarice, who is left uncomfortably in a room full of male officers. In the next room a funeral procession is taking place. Clarice begins to have memories of her own fathers’ funeral and walking towards the coffin. Crawford comes in and gets Starling, bringing her into a backroom where the body of Brimmel is ready for examination. She then announces to the officers in the room that their time has been appreciated, but their presence is no longer required. While examining the body, Clarice observes what she sees, her voice crackling with emotions as she describes into a recorder the physical condition of the mutilated girl. She notices something lodged in the girl’s throat while looking at a developing print that was taken during the examination. At first believed to be merely debris from being in the waters for a long period of time, it is actually a bug cocoon that was deliberately planted in her throat. Clarice preserves the bug and brings it to two etymologists, who conclude that the cocoon, nicknamed the Deaths Head Moth, is only found in Asia and would have to be shipped over to the States.
The next scene switches to a nightmarish scene in a dark basement, the basement of serial killer Buffalo Bill where the cries of Catharine Martin can be heard as she is trapped in a small, circular pit.
The news of the abduction makes national news, as Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker) makes a personal plea to the kidnapper to release her daughter unharmed. She continually repeats Catharine’s name and snapshots of Catharine appear on the screen. Smart. Jesus that’s smart observes Clarice’s friend Ardelia Mapp (Kasi Lemmons). If he sees Catherine as a person and not just an object it'll harder for him to tear her up, Starling observes. Clarice returns to the asylum where Dr. Chilton is annoyed that Clarice refuses to share information for the third time and that Lecter is his patient. Clarice brushes him and tells him to contact her superiors if he has a problem. Before the madman once again, Clarice makes a plea that if he helps the FBI catch Buffalo Bill and save Catharine Martin’s life in time, then he will be transferred to another institution with a view, as well as special privileges. However, Lecter himself wants something personal from Clarice. With every piece of information he gives her that will help her catch Buffalo Bill, she in return has to answer personal questions about her life. Clarice agrees. Lecter inquires what was the worst thing about her childhood. Tell me about it and don't lie, or I'll know, Lecter orders. Clarice explains her father was a deputy marshal who was shot one night when he surprised two thieves coming out the back of a drugstore. Having lost her mother early on in life, her father was the word to her and when he died she felt she had nothing. You're very frank, Clarice. I think it would be quite something to know you in private life
Now it’s Starling’s turn to ask the questions, and inquires about the case. Lecter asks about the latest victim found and her physical appearance. She was, as where all the victims. Clarice even gives him information about the moth found in her throat, something that hasn’t been made public yet but doesn’t know what it means. The significance of the moth is change. Caterpillar into chrysalis or pupa, from thence into beauty. Our Billy wants to change too. But Clarice knows there is no connection between trans-sexualism and violence. That transsexuals are very passive and not prone to violence. Clever girl. You're so close to the way you're going to catch him. Lecter goes back to Clarice, and asks what happened to her after the death of her father. Clarice explains she went to live with relatives on a ranch that bred horses and sheep. She ran away from the ranch a few months later despite the fact it was a decent home and that she was treated nicely. Lecter then explains that Billy isn’t a transsexual but believes he is. Chances are good that he has been turned down for sexual reassignment at several institutions. Clarice asks for what reasons would he have been turned down. Look for severe childhood disturbances associated with violence. Our Billy wasn't born a criminal, Clarice. He was made into one through years of systematic abuse. Billy hates his own identity you see, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual. But his pathology is a thousand times more savage… and more terrifying. All the while Lecter and Clarice engage in conversation, Dr. Chilton has been listening in on a microphone, having bugged the room. Once Clarice is gone, Dr. Chilton goes into Lecter’s cell (with Lecter being heavily restrained of course), and mocks him that he has been scammed and there was never a deal with Senator Martin but there is now. Dr. Chilton, being the opportunist that he is, is now in the one pulling the strings and demands that Lecter reveal the name of Buffalo Bill. Lecter sit perfectly still, silently mocking Chilton by not saying a single word. However, he notices that Chilton has left his pen on the bed. Chilton agrees to divulge information, but only to Senator Martin herself in Memphis.
Lecter arrives in Memphis in the now famous scene when he is lifted off the airplane with the hockey mask on and being carted around. Like he did with Clarice, he begins to ask the Senator personal questions, and having a little fun watching her in torment. He first tells the Senator that Buffalo Bill’s real name is Louis Friend, but then ignores all other questions and asks the Senator if she breast fed Catharine. Toughened your nipples, didn't it? Amputate a man's leg, and he can still feel it tickling. Tell me Mom, when your little girl's on the slab, where will it tickle you? Disgusted and mortified by the remarks, Martin tells them to bring this thing back to Baltimore. But Lecter, after having his fun, yells out the description of this Louis Friend. As Martin turns away Lecter has just one more thing to say, That's all I can remember but if I think of any more I will let you know. Oh, and Senator, just one more thing. Love your suit.
Lecter is then moved to a large room in the Baltimore Historical Society Room several floors up. Naturally he is confined in a large cage, where he passes the time drawing and listening to classical music. Clarice comes to visit him and return his drawings to him. This will be their fourth and final confrontation, and their most intense, as Clarice continues to give Lecter personal details about her private life, and her life on the horse and sheep ranch with relatives. But Clarice knows the name of Louis Friend is merely another anagram of his. Louis Friend? Iron Sulfide, also known as fool's gold. Lecter tells Clarice that everything she needs in order to catch Bill is in the case file. First principles, simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing, ask what is it in itself, what is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek? Clarice says he kills women, which angers Lecter. No! That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does, what needs does he serve by killing? Lecter explains that he covets. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body Clarice? And don't your eyes seek out the things you want?
Lecter now wants Clarice to finish her story about the ranch. Clarice reluctantly tells Lecter the story of why she ran away from the ranch. One morning she had heard screaming coming from the outdoors and went to see what it was. When she went to the barn she saw lambs screaming as they where being slaughtered. She tried to free them but they wouldn’t run away, they just stood there. But she took one lamb and began running from the barn. But being that the lamb was heavy and Clarice so young, they didn’t get far before being picked up by the police. The lamb was then slaughtered. You still wake up sometimes, don't you, wake up in the dark, and hear the screaming of the lambs? And you think if you save poor Catherine you could make them stop, don't you? You think if Catherine lives you won't wake up in the dark ever again to that awful screaming of the lambs. Lecter thanks Clarice very graciously, just as Dr. Chilton comes and has her removed. But before she is gone, Lecter calls back and hands her back the case file. Just as she reaches for it, Lecter grazes her finger slightly with his own.
The following scene is a gruesome and terrifying one, as Lecter, using a small clip from Chilton’s pen, undoes his handcuffs when the guards come in to feed him. Lamb chops. Extra rare says one officer before the attack. Lecter handcuffs one guard to the cell and brutally kills the other one with his own baton, after using mace on him. Picking up the dead man’s switchblade, he then proceeds towards the other officer. On the ground floor of the building, which is crammed with local cops, gunshots can be heard on the top floor. When they investigate they see an image of unspeakable horror, as the body of one of the officers is strung up in the image of Christ on the bars. The other police officers lies on the floor, barely breathing. He is hurried of to the hospital, but it is not one of their fellow police officers. In the ambulance, the police officer sits up and removes his own face. Except under it is Dr. Lecter.
When Clarice learns of the escape she does not fear for her life. He won't come after me. I can't explain it. He would consider that rude.
Clarice is still attempting to put the pieces to the puzzle together. Her and Ardelia study the case file together, and on one of the maps indicating where the victims where abducted and later found, Lecter penned a little note: Clarice, doesn't this random scattering of sites seem desperately random, like the elaboration of a bad liar? Eventually, using Lecter’s covet lead, they come to the conclusion that Bill had known the first victim on a personal level before killing her because she was the only one he took time to weigh down in the river where she was found (she was also the third girl found because of it).
Clarice drives down to Belvedere, Ohio where the first victim had lived. There she meets the father of the slain girl where she is allowed to go into the girl’s room to investigate. While searching the room alone, she comes across a group of pictures that show the young woman posing in the nude for the camera. But the pictures are always of her back as the looks over her shoulder with a big smile. Clarice is horrified when she looks into the closet and sees unfinished dress with dress patterns on them. On one of the dresses is a triangle shape pattern, two of them. They are identical to the shape of skin missing from the back of the girl in the funeral home in West Virginia. Buffalo Bill is kidnapping large woman so he can create a woman suit. Clarice quickly contacts Crawford, but he has already found out the identity of the killer, whose name is Jame Gumb. Crawford wants Clarice in the meantime to find information while in Belvedere that links Gumb to Frederica Brimmel before he is indicted.
While in the pit in Gumb’s basement, Catharine lures the killer obnoxious pet poodle towards the opening of the pit with a piece of chicken bone and a string. Gumb is too busy to notice. Applying make-up to his face, he is preparing for his transformation.
Clarice is talking to an old friend of Frederica and gets the address of a Mrs. Lipman, an elderly woman who Frederica used to sew for.
The action criss crosses between Crawford and his SWAT team moving up towards a house, and Jame Gumb realizing that his pet poodle has fallen down into the pit, where Catharine orders a phone to be lowered down. When the SWAT team, in the guise of a flower delivery crew rings the doorbell, a loud buzzer begins to ring in the basement. When Gumb answers the door it is Clarice who he sees. Meanwhile, the SWAT team bursts into an empty house. The wrong house.
Gumb allows Clarice to come in. The house once belonged to Mrs. Lipman but moved away to live with family. Clarice wonders if the woman had left a number behind to get in contact with, and Gumb goes into the kitchen to scrounge around. But Clarice notices a Death Head moth fly about and realizes she is in the murderers house. Trying to remain calm, she slowly puts her hand on her revolver, as Gumb is busy asking questions about Buffalo Bill and if there are any leads. But when they exchange glances again Gumb knows that his identity is known and flees into the basement. Clarice follows and hears the screaming of Catharine Martin, and assures her other officers will be here soon.
As Clarice investigates each room, she is horrified when she sees a bathtub filled with a murky substance with a human hand reaching out if it. Just then the lights go out and she is in total darkness. From Gumb’s point of view, we Clarice stumbling around in the dark (Gumb is wearing nigh vision goggles). He moves closer and closer to Clarice, positioning his hand right in front of hers and moving his hand gently just inches away from her head. He then raises his gun to her, but the sound of the trigger alerts Clarice to his whereabouts and she fires first, hitting him several times in the chest. Jame Gumb breathes his last few breaths of air and dies.
Clarice graduates from the Academy and accepts her diploma. Crawford, a man of few words, proudly praises Clarice for her work. You’re father would have been proud. He extends his hand to shake hers. He decides to duck out of the after party early and just then Clarice receives a phone call, the voice on the other line very familiar to her.
Well Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming? Don't bother with the trace. I won't be on long enough. I have no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world's more interesting with you in it. Say, you take care now to extend me the same courtesy.
You know I can’t make that promise. Clarice, voice shaken tells Lecter as she silently watches Crawford gather his coat and leave.
I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner
A shot of Dr. Chilton getting off a plane just yards away. Bye.
As Chilton walks down the road of a small Southern American village surrounded by police, Dr. Lecter calmly walks closely behind.
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS creates its suspense on the notion of dread and fear of ourselves and our ambitions in life. Clarice Starling in such a masterfully written character who feels the need to bond with older men because of the hidden desire to have a father figure in her life once again. She is a woman who lives in a very male oriented word and works in a male dominated environment. Because of this she must work harder and create a solid determination that cannot be broken while under pressure. Jodie Foster’s performance here is nothing short of stupendous. Though the accent slips now and then, Foster is working with top-notch material here and fully fleshes out her characters vulnerability and strengths. Again, the very first time we see her she is running and struggling hard through an obstacle course, and it symbolizes her current struggle and her future struggle. She rises above the prejudices of those around her, from dealing with uncomfortable situations as the scene when she is surrounded by cops in the funeral home who look at her as an object rather then a person. To the scene where she is consulting two scientists about the bug, and one asks her out on a date. Are you flirting with me? she asks with genuine heart, seeing that the guy is quite harmless and has a little crush on her.
Of course there is Sir Anthony Hopkins performance as the villain, Dr. Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter, the role that made him famous, despite being in films for a good twenty-three years before taking on the part. Everything about his performance is perfect for he delivers this hypnotic, nightmarish and ghoulish performance, and has all the fun in the world with it. Hopkins is chilling, with his robotic voice and dead eyes as he probes into the mind of Foster with both curiosity and taunting glee. When the two are onscreen together, the chemistry and brilliance that is involved is electrifying. He is the embodiment of pure evil in the form of a very well refined gentleman. She is a brave, headstrong young woman who is not afraid of him, but afraid to face what he knows about her. Their sessions together are perhaps the most intense and intriguing scenes ever put on film, as he is the teacher and her the student, as she seeks out information about the case, and he learns information from her.
The complexity of the characters, especially Lecter, is done magnificently by director Jonathan Demme and writer Ted Tally. Both have a flawless collaboration on the story, as they flesh out their own version of Beauty and the Beast. They depict Starling’s personality with painstaking efforts, and it shows. Like Sigourney Weaver in the ALIEN films, it is her own determination that fuels her. She is not blind to the world she lives in, but is in prime position to be a victim of it, which she won't allow.
However, through all the films masterfully filmed scenes (the very first meeting of Clarice and Lecter for example has a poetic feel to it), but the character development of Jame Gumb is a very disappointing one. He could have been just as interesting as Lecter was. But instead all the information we obtain about him is explained through other characters. In the novel, we learn much more about him and who is was (we learn a little about his mother, that he had killed his grandparents when he was twelve etc). The movie is only one hour and forty minutes long, and I think perhaps an extra twenty minutes of screen time couldn’t have hurt, especially if it was dedicated to helping us understand better what kind of monster Gumb was. There could have been an interesting parallel between him and Dr. Lecter. But the film chooses to not take advantage of this, and though the structure of the story remains firmly intact, I think it could have benefited a little more with Jame Gumb.
Aside from that, everything this movie does is on the right track. Many have compared the movie to SEVEN, but such comparisons is groundless and silly. That movie was more along the lines of character behavior and how one deals with the ugliness of the world around them. This is a character study, as the film of course uses metaphors and symbolism to help us understand why Clarice is so dedicated to saving lives. To saving that one lamb.
A riveting and suspenseful film that deserves its place in cinema’s history books. And one that will remain in the imaginations of many generations to come.
My Grade: A+