Jonathon Demme’s 1991 film is categorised in many different genre, for instance:

  • Thriller
  • Horror
  • Crime
  • Drama

For the reason that, it simply contains the codes and conventions of all, making it the third film in Academy history to win the Big Five Academy Award for producing, directing  screen-writing, and acting.

“Silence of the lambs” stars:

  • Jodie Foster as “Clarice Starling”
  • Anthony Hopkins as “Dr Hannibal Lectre”
  • Ted Levine as “Buffalo Bill”
  • Brooke Smith as “Catherine”
  • Scott Glenn as “Jack Crawford”
  • Anthony Heald as “Fredrick Chilton”
  • Kasi Lemmons as “Andrelia Mapp”

The trailer above demonstrates how much depth the film will go in, through the creation of suspense without having so much gore and blood as evident in other thriller films. But in the film there are aspects of this, perhaps the trailer was made to reveal less so that the audience don’t expect what’s coming…

For instance “Silence of the lambs” follows an FBI trainee called Clarice Starling meeting with Jack Crawford who assigns her to interview Dr Hannibal Lectre  (a psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer) in order to find evidence about another serial killer called ‘Buffalo Bill’ who skins female corpses. So when she goes to the Baltimore State hospital and is led to Lectre’s isolated cell by Fredrick Chilton, they talk and he gives her little help, but as she walks away he call her back to tell her to find his old client. As she does so, she comes across a car with a moth wedged inside a dead head; she goes back to Lectre who says this man is linked to Buffalo Bill.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Bill abducts a young girl called Catherine Martin, and to try and find out more about him , Clarice Starling tries to tempt Lectre by saying if he tells her more, then she can relocate him to another prison away from Chilton who he hates. But Lectre has his own idea that he will only say something if she tells him about her childhood; her father’s murder when she was just 10 years old. Lectre is then relocated, however as he torments Catherine’s mother, providing false information about Buffalo Bill’s real name being Louis Friend, he is sent into a cage in a Tenesse courthouse. Here, Clarice Starling visits him who tells her that all the information is in the case file, in return for her childhood memory of the sound of lambs being slaughtered at her family’s farm. Lectre then figures she wants to save Catherine in order to escape the terrifying sounds of the lambs; after she is escorted out by the police, Lectre kills two watch police men as they go in the cage to give him his dinner, and as he manages to unlock the handcuffs escapes.

Starling comes across Lectre’s annotations on the case file, realises that Buffalo Bill knew the first victim personally due to her travelling to a victim’s hometown where Buffalo Bill was a tailor, now planning on making a suit out of women’s skin. She then informs Jack Crawford who is already on the case to making an arrest on James Gumb who had applied for a sex change operation, but his house in Illinois is empty, whilst Clarice Starling arrives at Jack Gordon’s house, later realising he is Buffalo Bill from a moth flying around.

As he looks for a card she tries to arrest him, but he manages to run away downstairs where she loses him and finds Catherine alive in a dried up well in the basement. Then suddenly the lights are turned off, leaving Clarice Starling walking in the pitch black whilst James Gumb (Buffalo Bill) stalks her with night vision goggles; as he takes off the capsule on his gun Clarice Starling reacts instantly by shooing/killing him.

The film then ends on Clarice Starling being awarded for her job and then receiving a call from Lectre about him not going after her if she does the same; he says he’s “having a friend over for dinner” before ending the call and following Chilton (who just arrived on holiday) into the crowd.

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All of which I find the narrative is strong, in the sense that each event follows onto the next creating suspense throughout the film. Moreover the several plot twits heighten the audience’s emotions of anticipation to find out what bad event is going to follow…

Such as when the body of what we believed to be Dr Hannibal Lectre, turned out to be a police officer Lectre had dressed as himself as a way of getting out the Tennessee courthouse, by pretending to be a injured police officer sent off in an ambulance. It’s not until he reveals his true face by taking off the officer’s skin from his face and then attacking the doctor. This leaves the audience questioning the capability of the film, as anything extraordinary can happen after this point.

Leading on the point at which the audience believe the police are intruding Buffalo Bills house when truly it’s Clarice Starling. I find this is a frightening plot twist as almost everyone can agree in thinking that the case was going to be solved with a happy ending, not the possibility of Clarice Starling being alone fighting for her life. Therefore, the creepiness yet excitement created change the audience’s emotions throughout the film; something not a lot of other thriller films can do as effectively done in “Silence of the lambs”.

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Moreover, the actor Anthony Hopkins has done a powerful performance as “Dr Hannibal Lectre” in the 2 hour film, appearing for just 17 minutes in total. In which the audience are never bored of seeing him as he keeps them on the edge of their seats when watching his spectacular yet hair-raising character.

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The way he is dressed is also significant because the audience see him in a blue prison jumpsuit when he is first introduced, to wearing a metal brace and then a brown mask to prevent him from being cannibalistic. But the most important of all is the white shirt he wears when killing the two police officers because not only does it effectively display his extreme actions of murder as their red blood is all over him, but the fact that the colour white symbolises purity and innocence something his actions completely juxtapose.

Furthermore the ending leaves the audience wanting more, as it finishes on a phonecall received by Clarice Starling from Lectre where he says he is having a friend over for dinner, this friend happens to be Fredrick Chilton who he hates. The irony and satire of his comment makes the audience think that as Lectre is a cannibalistic serial killer, he isn’t inviting Chilton over for a meal, instead Chilton is his dinner!

Overall I believe that “Silence of the lambs” has transformed into a modern day classic that I would recommend to anyone wanting to watch something they wouldn’t ever forget; giving the following rating of…

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