FBI trainee Clarice Starling works hard to advance her career, including trying to hide or put behind her West Virginia roots, of which if some knew would automatically classify her as being backward or white trash. After graduation, she aspires to work in the agency's Behavioral Science Unit under the leadership of Jack Crawford. While she is still a trainee, Crawford does ask her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist imprisoned thus far for eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer, he who cannibalized his victims. Clarice is able to figure out the assignment is to pick Lecter's brains to help them solve another serial murder case, that of someone coined by the media as Buffalo Bill who has so far killed five victims, all located in the eastern US, all young women who are slightly overweight especially around the hips, all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who were stripped of large swaths of skin. She also figures that Crawford... Written by
The idea to use glass in Lecter's Baltimore cell as opposed to traditional bars came from production designer Kristi Zea. The idea came about because director Jonathan Demme was unhappy shooting the Lecter scenes through bars, as he felt they negated the sense of intimacy between Lecter and Starling which he was trying to achieve. See more »
The same newspaper clipping from the National Inquisitor with the headline "Bill Skins Fifth" appears on the wall of Jack Crawford's office at the beginning of the film, and on the wall of Buffalo Bill's trophy room at the end. The text of the article is actually not about Buffalo Bill at all: it is the story of how Hannibal Lecter was arrested for a "brutal murder" in which "reportedly acts of cannibalism were a factor in the death". The victim, named as Stuart Heart, is inconsistently described as a museum curator, as an entymologist, and as the creator of a liver disease drug. The story includes a quote from "Special Agent Jack Crawford".
The story's text can be seen in its proper place during Clarice's research on the microfiche, in the Washington Dispatch story headlined "Renowned Psychiatrist Charged in Murder". See more »
There is little doubt that the most memorable aspect of The Silence of the Lambs is Anthony Hopkins' incomparable performance as Lecter. Taking over for Brian Cox, who was effective, but not especially memorable, as the good doctor in 1986's Manhunter, Hopkins instantly makes the role his own, capturing and conveying the charismatic essence of pure evil. To his dying day, no matter how many roles he plays in the interim, Hopkins will forever be known for this part. (It is a credit to Hopkins' ability as an actor that this part did not result in stereotyping. His post-Silence career has been greatly varied, with roles as widely diverse as a stodgy butler in Merchant-Ivory's The Remains of the Day and an action hero in The Edge.) I can throw out any number of superlatives, but none of them do justice to this chilling performance, which I labeled as the best acting work of the '90s. Want to feel the icy fingers of terror stroke your heart? Watch this mixture of brilliant eloquence and inhuman cruelty. As portrayed by Hopkins, Hannibal is both a suave, cultured gentleman and an unspeakable fiend. He is gracious and monstrous at the same time. (Hopkins also provided one of the most quotable lines in recent film history with "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti", which was followed by an inimitable slithering slurp.)
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