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The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Poster

Goofs

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When Clarice opens the music box, it plays and winds down. As it winds down, the musical pitch lowers. The music should slow down, but the pitch should stay the same.

Character error 

The autopsy scene contains at least 8 errors. Among them, the body was fingerprinted without collecting evidence under the victims fingernails, and the ink would have destroyed the evidence. You cannot get fingerprints off a body in that condition.
Clarice says she double-majored in criminology and psychology at the University of Virginia. UVA has never offered a criminology major.
When Jack Crawford describes who will be escorting Starling at the asylum, he calls Dr. Chilton "Dr. Chilnet."
Jack Crawford says Clarice graduated magna cum laude from UVA, but UVA does not award that distinction to psychology majors.
Sgt Tate tells an officer to call in the SWAT team. Memphis has no SWAT team, but it has a TACT team.
When Clarice visits the entomologists to identify the moth pupa, they say while examining the chrysalis that it must've been specially raised from imported eggs and fed "honey and nightshade". Deaths Head moth larvae, like most caterpillars, eat only vegetation; the adult moths eat honey.
At the Memphis airport, Lt. Boyle introduces Sgt. Pembry to Dr. Lecter as "Sgt. Petry".

Continuity 

The ring of sweat on Clarice's sweatshirt as she is running on the Quantico course in the beginning of the movie covers her body almost from shoulder to shoulder. When she gets called into Crawford's office, it is significantly smaller.
During the autopsy scene, they remove the bug cocoon from the victim and insert it into a small jar with the bug antenna pointing to the bottom of the jar. The next next shot shows Clarice pouring fluid into the jar with the antenna pointing up.
As Clarice is looking through the microfilm, the pen in her mouth switches places several times.
When Starling tries to get into the self-storage facility, the gloves disappear from her lap.
Jack Crawford's collar pops in and out of his vest during a conversation with Clarice Starling.
When the FBI team is preparing to deliver the flowers, the ribbon is on both the upper and lower sections of the box. In the next shot, the ribbon appears only on the upper section of the box.
When the cop holding the flowers is at the front door of the house in Illinois, shadows change direction on the doorframe between shots.

Crew or equipment visible 

A black string is attached to the back of the moth that lands on the red roll of string at Buffalo Bill's house. It's clearly visible in high definition.

Errors in geography 

When Hannibal is imprisoned in Memphis, the sign outside the Shelby county courthouse is shown, in dim light, to be a museum.
Nearly all the vehicles in the film have inspection stickers in the windshield indicating registration in Pittsburgh, PA, where none of the action takes place.
The military aircraft heading toward Calument City has California Air Guard on the side, which is not likely for planes coming from Virginia.
Clarice runs a course on a Marine Corps Base in Quantico, VA, which is also home to the FBI Academy. The Endurance Course is about 5 miles long throughout the Quantico highlands, in the Marine part, not the FBI part. At the cargo net obstacle, she was nearly at the end of the course, about 2-3 miles from the FBI Academy. A road is to the left on the screen, and nothing but miles of woods is on her right, when the FBI agent comes out and says that Crawford wants to speak to her. It would've been faster and more logical for her to finish the course, not run 3-4 miles back through the woods to the FBI academy.
The plane carrying agents to Calumet City banks over mountainous terrain that looks like nothing near northern Indiana.

Factual errors 

When Catherine Martin drives into the parking area, the killer looks right into the headlights of her car while wearing night-vision goggles, but he isn't blinded. Goggles of that time might have been permanently damaged. Newer goggles have automatic protection mechanisms.
West Virginia State Police uniforms have been forest green since the early 1900's. Their vehicles are blue, with Old Gold and the State Seal on the door. The director asked the WV Department of Public Safety to use some State Police in the movie, but he didn't like the colors of their uniforms. When he asked them to change into the Brown uniforms, they refused and left the set.
The film refers to "iron sulfide, also known as 'fool's gold'." Iron sulfide, more specifically, iron (II) sulfide or FeS, is an unstable chemical compound that's usually brown or black. The fool's gold they refer to is commonly known as pyrite, and its proper name is iron (II) disulfide (FeS2). Even if Agent Starling and Dr. Lecter knew enough about chemistry to know the chemical composition of fool's gold, she would have known it as either pyrite or iron disulfide.
The biologist identifies the moth found behind the murder victim's soft palate as Acherontia styx, the Deaths Head moth. The Deaths Head moth used in the poster is actually Acherontia atropos. (A third Deaths Head moth is called Acherontia lachesis.) While A. styx is native to Asia, as identified by the biologist, A. atropos is native to the Middle East and Mediterranean.
An Acherontia styx pupa is found behind the soft palate of Bill's 6th victim, The actual species depicted is Acherontia atropos.

Miscellaneous 

In the closing credits, thanks is given to The "Behavorial" Science Unit. The correct spelling is behavioral.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

U.S. Customs has a record of Buffalo Bill bringing the moths, found only in Asia, from Suriname, in South America. He may have used a re-shipper to disguise the shipment's origins.
Crawford tells Clarice that Miggs died by swallowing his tongue. Literally swallowing one's tongue is impossible. However, an unconscious person's tongue may sag backwards and block their airway, leading to suffocation.
During Clarice's first visit to see Hannibal, she wore a skirt with belt on the waist when she was in Dr. Chilton's office and before entering the final corridor leading to Hannibal's cell. The belt was gone when she entered the corridor. She probably had to remove her belt before entering the maximum-security area, particularly if it had a metal buckle.
Lecter correctly refers to the moth pupa as a "chrysalis". Many moths, including the one in the film, pupate inside a chrysalis. "Cocoon" refers to a type of silky case spun my many types of insects, not just moths.
When Clarice is shown in Belvedere, Ohio, she is on a bridge. Belvedere is not on a river, but Cross Creek runs through the town.
Jodie Foster has blue eyes. When she is at the funeral home she has a flashback and sees her father in the casket. Clarice as a little girl is supposed to be going to see her father in the casket. The little girl's eyes are Hazel, not blue. Adult Clarice could wear colored contacts.

Revealing mistakes 

As Forensics comes to take photos of the victim's body, the "corpse" visibly blinks as hands touch its face.
When Clarice is talking to Buffalo Bill in his back room, a moth is filmed landing on a cotton reel. After the moth has settled, a thread is visible attached to it. Presumably the shot was filmed in reverse, and the moth was yanked off the reel.
When Clarice is interviewing Lecter, a padlock on his cell door goes from locked to unlocked between scenes.
When Clarice is researching Lecter in Quantico by reading old newspaper articles on microfilm, the same text regarding developments at some vague governmental conference appears over and over again surrounding the Lecter articles in all four separate newspapers she views.
During Lector's escape, the "swat" team arrives and jumps out of the police car at the courthouse with their Ithica 37 shotguns. All of them are shown chambering their rounds except the the officer on the right, who pulls back again on the fore stock and asks "ready?" That should've ejected a shell and left the gun unloaded.
When Clarice crawls under the door at the self-storage shed, the camera pans along the large unlighted interior. Although self storage units typically do not have windows, sunlight pours through windows on the far wall.
When Sgt. Pembry is preparing to handcuff Dr. Lecter to the bars of his cell while bringing in his requested second supper, he has Lecter sit with his back to the bars and his arms thrust behind him in order secure the shackles. It's obvious that Dr. Lecter has been waiting for a fair amount of time between his first meal and his second serving because his drawings and magazines are spread over the entire desktop surface. A closeup of the Lecter's arms shows red, discolored wrists.

Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Audio/visual unsynchronised 

In the final phone call, as Lecter says "I have no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world's more interesting with you in it", his facial movements don't match the spoken words.

Continuity 

As Hannibal escapes, he kicks the cell door onto the guard, causing the door to be in between Hannibal and the guard. Yet in the very next shot, the guard is right in front of Hannibal so he can bite him.

Continuity 

At the end of the movie, when Clarice Starling is searching Buffalo Bill's basement, she approaches a door with the doorknob on her right, indicating it would open to her left. When we see the door open from the opposite side, it opens to her right.

Continuity 

The body Clarice discovers in the basement, presumably Mrs. Lippman, is lit almost entirely by sunlight. Moments later, Buffalo Bill kills the power and whole room turns pitch black.

Crew or equipment visible 

At the end of the film, when Hannibal tells Clarice about having "an old friend for dinner", a camera crew can is reflected in Hannibal's sunglasses.

Errors in geography 

The red herring house is supposed to be in Calumet City, Illinois, but mountains are in the background. Calument city is far from any mountains.

Errors in geography 

In the cut to the scene outside the Memphis Police headquarters, after Lecter has escaped, an ambulance with Hamilton County tags roars across the screen and stops. Memphis is in Shelby County, 400 miles west of Hamilton County.

Factual errors 

Although a human skin garment is implied, most of the sewing examples are blatantly wrong to anyone experienced in tailoring. For example, while Clarice stands in the first victim's sewing room, she recalls the diamond-shaped pieces of skin removed from the girl found in the river, and thinks of the darts commonly used to reduce fabric bulk in the waistline, making a garment more fitted. The problem is, the dart shapes cut from the skin resemble the unwanted pieces of fabric that are wasted. Later it shows him sewing on one end, single thickness. He's not sewing anything to anything else, and he's using a piece that is typically cut off and discarded during garment construction.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs 

Gumb's basement, while larger than the "red herring" house in Illinois, is proportional to his house in Ohio.

Revealing mistakes 

After Hannibal escapes from his temporary cell in Memphis, the police believe Dr. Lecter is cornered, injured and unconscious, on the top of an elevator. The officer is told to shoot him, non-lethally, in order to determine whether he is alive or not, and wounds him in the back of the knee with his police issued 9mm handgun. The body showed no reaction to the shot, so they decided he was dead. Even a dead limb would move away from the direction of the shot.

Revealing mistakes 

When Buffalo Bill cocks his gun, the shadow of Bill's hand holding the gun is clearly visible on Clarice's back as he raises it to shoot her. The basement is supposed to be pitch black, so there shouldn't have been any shadows.

Revealing mistakes 

When Clarice is in the pitch black basement, searching for Buffalo Bill, he points a gun at her head through his night vision goggles. The gun makes a shadow on her back, which wouldn't happen without light.

See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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