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The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Poster

Trivia

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Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Anthony Hopkins's mocking of her southern accent was improvised on the spot. Foster's horrified reaction was genuine; she felt personally attacked. She later thanked Hopkins for generating such an honest reaction.
In preparation for his role, Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons and studied convicted murderers and was present during some court hearings concerning serial killings.
When Anthony Hopkins found out that he was cast as Hannibal Lecter based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980) he questioned Jonathan Demme and said "But Dr. Treves was a good man." To which Demme replied "So is Lecter, he is a good man too. Just trapped in an insane mind."
At 24 minutes and 52 seconds, Anthony Hopkins's performance in this movie is the second shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in Separate Tables (1958) beating him by one minute.
Buffalo Bill is the combination of three real-life serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used the cast on his hand as bait to convince women to get into his van, and Gary Heidnick, who kept women he kidnapped in a pit in his basement. Gein was only positively linked to two murders, and suspected of two others. He gathered most of his materials through grave-robbing, not murder.
The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel and serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy helped Keppel investigate the Green River Serial Killings in Washington. Bundy was executed January 24, 1989. The Green River Killings were finally solved in 2001, when Gary Ridgway was arrested. On November 5, 2003, in a Seattle courtroom, Ridgway plead guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first degree murder.
When Clarice visits Dr. Hannibal Lecter in his new facility, Lecter insists she continue telling him about her childhood as part of the agreement. Jodie Foster, reluctantly, continues her story about running away. Midway through her confessions, she mentions taking a lamb with her. If one listens closely after she says, "I thought if I could save just one..." a distant sound of something being dropped can be heard in the background. A crewman dropped a wrench during filming. Director Jonathan Demme panicked, thinking it would ruin the scene completely. However, Foster remained in character and continued the story, ultimately convincing Demme to keep the footage. After "Cut" was said, Foster turned her head to the crew and yelled, "What the Hell was that!"
After Jodie Foster first read the Thomas Harris novel, she tried to buy the rights herself, only to find Gene Hackman had beaten her to it.
After Lecter was moved from Baltimore, the plan was to dress him in a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Anthony Hopkins convinced Jonathan Demme and costume designer Colleen Atwood that the character would seem more clinical and unsettling if he was dressed in pure white. Hopkins has since said he got the idea from his fear of dentists.
The pattern on the moth's back in the movie posters is not the natural pattern of the Death's-Head Hawk Moth. It is, in fact, Salvador Dalí's "In Voluptas Mors", a picture of seven naked women made to look like a human skull.
Clarice Starling was chosen by the American Film Institution as the sixth greatest film hero (out of fifty), the highest ranked female on the list; Hannibal Lecter was chosen as the #1 greatest film villain (also out of fifty).
As of 2013, the only horror film to win an Oscar for Best Picture. Only two others have been nominated: The Exorcist (1973) and Jaws (1975)).
One of the inspirations that Anthony Hopkins borrowed from for his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter was a friend of his in London who never blinked which unnerved anyone around him.
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.
When Jonathan Demme filmed the scene where Lecter and Starling first meet, Anthony Hopkins said he should look directly at the camera as it panned into his line of sight. He felt Lecter should be portrayed as "knowing everything."
Jodie Foster spent a great deal of time with FBI agent Mary Ann Krause prior to filming. Krause gave Foster the idea of Starling standing by her car crying. Krause told Foster that at times, the work just became so overwhelming that it was a good way to get an emotional release.
The real-life FBI's Behavioral Science Unit assisted in the making of this film.
The first moth cocoon found in one of the victim's throats was made from a combination of Tootsie Rolls(TM) and gummy bears, so it would be edible if swallowed.
Anthony Hopkins said he saw Lecter as similar to HAL in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); a highly complex, highly intelligent, highly logical killing machine who seems to know everything going on around him.
Anthony Hopkins described his voice for Hannibal Lecter as, "a combination of Truman Capote and Katharine Hepburn."
When Anthony Hopkins' agent rang him up in London to tell him that he was sending him a script called "The Silence of the Lambs", Hopkins immediately thought he might be going up for a children's movie.
Buffalo Bill's dance was not included in the original draft of the screenplay, although it appears in the novel. It was added at the insistence of Ted Levine, who thought the scene was essential in defining the character.
Although when characters are talking to Starling, they often talk direct to camera, when she is talking to them, she is always looking slightly off-camera. Director Jonathan Demme has explained that this was done so as the audience would directly experience her POV, but not theirs, hence encouraged the audience to more readily identify with her.
Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes throughout the course of the film.
The production received full co-operation from the FBI as they saw it as a potential recruiting tool to hire more female agents.
As of 2013, one of three films to win the top five Oscars: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay (Adapted). The others are It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
Within ten years of the release of this film, the building used for the exterior of Lecter's asylum had been shut down and demolished. Footage from this film was therefore recycled to create the establishing shots used in the prequel Red Dragon (2002).
Anthony Hopkins invented the fast, slurping-type sound that Hannibal Lecter does. He did it spontaneously during filming on the set, and everyone thought it was great. Director Jonathan Demme became annoyed with it after a while, but denied his irritation.
Originally, the film was to open with Clarice Starling and a male FBI agent in the middle of a drug bust. They were to burst into the room and make a number of arrests, then the bust would be revealed as a training exercise. Jodie Foster was able to convince Jonathan Demme to change the scene because it had been done so many times before. Foster came up with the idea of opening with Starling running through the assault course. The drug bust training idea was still used, but after Clarice's first conversation with Lecter.
The film surpassed its budget in its first week of release.
Brooke Smith and Ted Levine were actually very close on the set, making Jodie Foster refer to Brooke Smith as Patricia Hearst' a kidnapping victim who later fell in love with her kidnapper.
After working with John Douglas for some time, Scott Glenn thanked him and said how fascinating it was to have been allowed into his world. Douglas laughed and told Glenn that if he really wanted to get into his world, he should listen to an audio tape of serial killers Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris torturing, raping, and murdering two teenage girls. Glenn listened to less than one minute of the tape, and has since said that he feels he lost a sense of innocence in doing so, and that he has never been able to forget what he heard.
After being cast as Buffalo Bill, Ted Levine developed his character by reading profiles of serial killers. Levine later said he found the material very disturbing. Since Bill was a cross-dresser, he went to a few transvestite bars and interviewed some patrons.
It took Thomas Harris 6 years to write the novel.
A 'Bon Appetit' magazine can be seen in Hannibal Lecter's temporary cell.
At least six directors have roles in this film: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Kasi Lemmons, Roger Corman, Dan Butler (who directed episodes of Frasier (1993)), and a cameo by George A. Romero.
Jack Crawford was based on real-life FBI Special Agent John E. Douglas, an early member of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit, who coached Glenn on his portrayal of a member of the BSU. Douglas, still an active FBI Special Agent during production, was in the midst of tracking Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who was believed to have killed more than 90 women in Washington state between 1982 and 1998. Ridgway was arrested 2001, and plead guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first degree murder on November 5, 2003.
Gene Hackman bought the rights to "The Silence of the Lambs." He planned to direct the film and play either Lecter or Jack Crawford. He withdrew after watching a clip of himself in Mississippi Burning (1988) at the The 61st Annual Academy Awards (1989), which made him uneasy about taking more violent roles.
The portrayal of the character Dr. Hannibal Lecter is rated as the #1 villain on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains list.
Notoriously private and shy, Thomas Harris declined the opportunity to be involved in the film in any way, though he did wish the cast and crew the best of luck with the adaptation.
Like Casablanca (1942), this movie contains a famous misquoted line: most people quote Lecter's famous "Good evening, Clarice" as "Hello, Clarice." This line did, however, appear in the sequel, Hannibal. In Hannibal, when Dr. Lecter and Clarice (now played by Julianne Moore) speak on the phone for the first time, he does in fact say "Hello Clarice". This was possible put in by the writers of Hannibal as an inside joke in reference to the misquoting of the original movie.
Lechter said he ate a victim's liver with "some fava beans and nice chianti". Liver, fava beans, and wine all contain a substance called tyramine, which can kill a person who is taking a certain class of antidepressant drugs known as MAO inhibitors. MAO inhibitors were the first antidepressants developed, and were used primarily on patients in mental institutions. Lecter worked in, and was committed to, a mental institution.
When Ted Tally was writing the screenplay for the film, he suggested Jodie Foster for role of Clarice Starling. Foster had been lobbying hard for the part, but when Jonathan Demme was hired to direct, he wanted Michelle Pfeiffer instead. Pfeiffer turned the part down because she felt the film was too violent. Demme then agreed to meet Foster. He hired her after only one meeting because he said he could see her strength and determination for the part, and he felt that was perfect for Clarice.
The rules for speaking with Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) are the same as the rules for speaking with Ethan Powell in Instinct (1999), a role also played by Hopkins.
Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in December 2011, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Almost all the scenes in Hannibal's original cell have either a reflection of Hannibal or Clarice, depending on the camera's point of view.
Brooke Smith gained 25 pounds for her role as Catherine Martin.
The filmmakers were prepared to go to Montana to shoot a flashback sequence depicting Clarice's runaway attempt. After filming the dialogue between Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, director Jonathan Demme realized it would be pointless to cut away from their performances and announced, "I guess we aren't going to Montana."
The Tobacco Horn Worm moths used throughout the film were given celebrity treatment. They were flown first class to the set in a special carrier, had special living quarters (rooms with controlled humidity and heat), and were dressed in carefully designed costumes (body shields bearing a painted skull and crossbones)
In the novel, Jack Crawford not only has to deal with pitting a rookie agent against Hannibal Lecter, but he also has to contend with his wife dying at home. This subplot wasn't deemed necessary for the film version.
Most of the film was shot in Pittsbugh, which was chosen for its large variety of landscapes and architecture. Some of the film's interior scenes, including the Baltimore jail scene in the beginning and the ballroom scene of Lecter in his cage, were shot in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial located on Fifth Avenue in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh.
Jodie Foster, Jonathan Demme and Scott Glenn, and a few other cast and crew members did a great deal of research at the FBI training facility in Quantico, Virginia. They studied under criminal profiling agents, learned about firearms and agent training, and sat in on a number of classes.
Entertainment Weekly voted this as the fourth scariest film of all time.
Brooke Smith entered in and out of the pit by crouching through a small door that was half her size. It was then covered with dirt to keep it out of sight of the camera.
Thematic parallel: The tune played by the music box in Bimmel's bedroom is from the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart opera "The Magic Flute." Also from a music box, the magic tune releases the heroine from the clutches of a lecherous character who 'covets' her throughout the opera.
The skull in the poster is formed by 7 women bodies, based on Dali's work.
Jonathan Demme was convinced that Jodie Foster would be perfect for Clarice Starling when he saw her purposefully walk down a corridor to meet him. He liked her air of determination.
To everyone's surprise, reclusive author Thomas Harris sent all the Oscar recipients a case of wine.
Dino De Laurentiis, who had produced Manhunter (1986), passed on Silence of the Lambs because Manhunter had flopped. He gave the rights away free to Orion Pictures.
Contrary to popular rumor, writer Thomas Harris saw the film shortly after it came out. According to a New York Magazine profile of Harris, "The Silence of the Writer," by Phoebe Hoban (15 April 1991), he called it "a great movie. . . I've been surrounded by it, so I wanted to see it. I admire Jonathan Demme, and we were very fortunate to have him and Ted Tally, and we were very lucky with the cast."
Ed Harris turned down the role of Jack Crawford because he didn't find the role interesting and would rather have played Hannibal Lecter.
John Hurt, Christopher Lloyd, Dustin Hoffman, Patrick Stewart, Louis Gossett Jr., Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson, and Robert De Niro were all considered for the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Jeremy Irons turned down the role; he'd just played Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune (1990) and didn't want to play another dark character.
Ted Tally was halfway through his adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel when financing of the film fell through. Orion president Mike Medavoy urged him to carry on regardless.
An early decision on the part of Jonathan Demme was to film at Quantico itself, the FBI's own training environment which had always closed its doors to film crews. Visiting Quantico for the first time, production designer Kristi Zea was struck by how boring and prosaic the location was. She expressed her concern to Demme who replied that he wanted the place to look as mundane as possible.
John Douglas, on whom the Jack Crawford character was based, achieved some fame of his own a few years after this film. He was hired by the parents of Jonbenet Ramsey to investigate her death and apparent murder. Up until that point, the parents had been the chief suspects in the case. While Douglas did not fault the local police for investigating the family first--as in the film, investigators usually assume that victims know their killers--he became the first public official to proclaim their innocence.
This was the third time a film won the five major Oscars (Film, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay) after 'It Happened One Night' (1934) and 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1975).
Stayed on top of the US box office for 5 weeks.
Jodie Foster stated in "Inside Story: The Silence of the Lambs" (2010) that "Silence of the Lambs" is her favorite movie of her own.
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Despite being recently declared bankrupt, Orion still managed to raise $200,000 for the film's Oscar campaign.
According to Jonathan Demme, there were 300 applicants for the role of Clarice Starling. Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry auditioned for the role, and Andie MacDowell was also considered. Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer and Melanie Griffith turned the role down because of the disturbing subject matter.
Orion's decision to promote this film as a 1991 Oscar contender resulted in having to choose between two other releases later in the year: Little Man Tate (1991) and Blue Sky (1994). As Orion executives planned to promote Jodie Foster as a Best Actress nominee, they decided to give her some extra exposure by releasing the former picture, which she both appeared in and directed. Foster ended up winning Best Actress. Blue Sky ended up waiting three more years to be released, but when it did, it resulted in Jessica Lange also winning a Best Actress Oscar.
Jonathan Demme cast Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980). Hopkins has himself said that he felt the sharing-and-caring role of Dr. Frederick Treves was rather dull.
The film was originally scheduled for release in fall of 1990. Orion Pictures delayed its release until late January 1991 so they could focus on promoting Dances with Wolves (1990) for Oscar consideration. This film won all five major Academy Awards, a notable exception to the conventional wisdom that films released early in a calendar year are forgotten by Oscar time.
The events in this film occur after the events in Manhunter (1986). Although there are several characters common to both films, there are only two actors who appear in both movies. Both actors play different characters in both movies. Frankie Faison plays Lt. Fisk in Manhunter and Barney in Silence of the Lambs, and Dan Butler plays an FBI fingerprint expert in Manhunter and an entomologist in Silence of the Lambs.
The first film widely available on home video at the time of the Academy Awards ceremony to win Best Picture.
Orion snapped up the film rights for $500,000.
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Jonathan Demme met with Robert Duvall to see if he would be a good fit for the part of Hannibal Lecter.
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The song heard playing while "Buffalo Bill" does his dance is "Goodbye Horses" by Q. Lazzarus. More commonly-known versions of this song are performed by Psyche and by Mortal Loom sung by Ilja Rosendahl.
The third EMS attendant treating Sgt. Pembrie is Jeff Busch, a paramedic and owner of a Pittsburgh emergency vehicle company that detailed all of the emergency vehicles in the film.
Despite the fact that this was filmed in the standard spherical format, "Filmed in Panavision" is listed in the end credits.
At the beginning of the movie, when Clarice Starling is looking for Jack Crawford, who is investigating the killer known as "Buffalo Bill," the first office she goes to has what appear to be notes about the investigation on a blackboard. Among them are two short quotations from the E.E. Cummings poem "Buffalo Bill's / defunct": "1-2-3-4-5" and, near the bottom of the board (the right side of the board isn't visible): "how do you like -- blue-eyed boy now --" The latter appears to be quoting (slightly misquoting, actually) the final lines of the poem: "how do you like your blue-eyed boy / Mister Death."
Sean Connery was director Jonathan Demme's first choice to play Hannibal Lecter, but he turned the part down. Connery later did a similar serial-killer thriller called Just Cause (1995), where Ed Harris plays a sort of bible-bashing, redneck rip-off of Hannibal Lecter. The film was neither a critical or commercial smash like The Silence of the Lambs (1991) was.
The movie's poster was as #16 of "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever" by Premiere.
Some of the scenes were filmed in Bellaire, Ohio, birthplace of actor Ted Levine.
Then Secretary of Labor, Elizabeth Dole's, Washington, D.C. office doubled for that of the F.B.I. director's office in the movie.
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Australia's Office of Film & Literature Classification (OFLC) originally gave the film an "R" rating. The distributors lobbied for it be rated 'M' without editing. The "R" remained for 2 years, until the OFLC created a new film rating, "MA15+", meaning persons under 15 years must be accompanied by a parent of guardian. The film was re-rated in 1993.
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The revolver that Buffalo Bill uses is a Colt Python, which is a double action. That means in the dark scene all he would have had to do was pull the trigger, he would not have had to pull the hammer back.
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The song playing during the funeral (at about 39 mins) is "Rock of Ages"
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When Agent Starling goes through Fredrica Bimmel's closet and closes the room's door, a promotional poster for Deborah Harry's 1989 solo album, "Def, Dumb & Blonde", can be seen on the bedroom wall. Director Jonathan Demme is a fan of Deborah Harry.
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The three male leads (Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn' and Ted Levine) have all worked with Jodie Foster's replacement, Julianne Moore. Levine appeared with her in Evolution (2001), Glenn in The Shipping News (2001), and Hopkins in Surviving Picasso (1996), on account of which he recommended her for the role in Hannibal (2001).
Dedicated to Trey Wilson.
The moth that gets pulled out of a corpse's mouth was actually just candy in case the actress playing the corpse should accidentally swallow it.
Jonathan Demme signed on as director after reading the novel.
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Hannibal mentions the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to Clarice in the asylum. Marcus Aurelius, played by Richard Harris, was a character in Ridley Scott's Gladiator (2000). Jonathan Demme won the Best Director Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), beating out Ridley Scott who was nominated in the same category for Thelma & Louise (1991)). Ridley Scott went on to direct Hannibal (2001), the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
Michael Keaton, Mickey Rourke, and Kenneth Branagh were all considered for the role of Jack Crawford.
According to an old news article that Starling reads on microfilm, "Judge Detox" presided over Dr. Lecter's murder trial.
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Gay rights protesters complaining that making Buffalo Bill a transsexual was highly clichéd and a reflection of and/or pandering to public hostilities around the issue of sexual orientation.
In the second draft of Ted Tally's screenplay, the names of three characters had to be changed from Thomas Harris's novel for legal reasons: Jack Crawford became Ray Campbell, Frederick Chilton became Herbert Prentiss, and Hannibal Lecter became Gideon Quinn.
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The second film to feature the character of Dr Hannibal Lecter, the first being Michael Mann's Manhunter (1986).
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The character of Jame Gumb inspired the song "Lady in the Pit" by Bonecage.
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The part of Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb, played by Frank Theodore "Ted" Levine, is coincidentally based on real life serial killers Edward Theodore "Ted" Gein and Theodore Robert "Ted" Bundy.
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Cameo 

Roger Corman:  The veteran filmmaker and president of New World Pictures played the FBI Director.
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Edward Saxon:  head in jar
George A. Romero:  the bearded man who accompanies Chilton and the two guards who forcibly remove Clarice Starling after her final meeting with Lecter.
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Ted Tally:  the FBI tactical team member with the mustache and glasses, during the raid near the end of the movie.
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Kenneth Utt:  the coroner.
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Director Cameo 

Jonathan Demme:  wearing a blue cap at the end of the film.

Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In his first meeting with Clarice Starling, Lecter describes the drawing on his cell wall as "the Duomo, seen from the Belvedere" in Florence, Italy. Starling later finds Buffalo Bill living in Belvedere, Ohio.
The FBI was very impressed by the film's accuracy in depicting criminal investigations, serial killers, and their victims. However, they protested against Clarice discovering Buffalo Bill on her own because inexperienced agents are never sent alone on dangerous assignments. When Jonathan Demme explained to them that he wouldn't change it because it was the movie's psychological climax, they agreed, saying that it would be the most improbable course of action of all time, never to be repeated again.
In the film, Lecter tells Senator Martin that Buffalo Bill's real name is "Louis Friend", an anagram of iron sulfide, or fool's gold. In the novel, he gives the name "Billy Rubin". This is a play on bilirubin, a pigment found in feces and the color of Dr. Chilton's hair.
After the shootout with Gumb, Clarice has partially-burned gunpowder buried in the skin on the side of her face, the result of a near-miss. One name for this type of injury is "coal miner's tattoo" , a clever reference to the character's background.
The position of Boyle's body after Lecter has disemboweled and hung him from the cell was specifically based on the work of painter Francis Bacon.
Lecter's drawing of Clarice (shown in his temporary cell in Memphis) features three crosses in the background, with only one showing a man crucified. The drawing purposefully makes Clarice look older with jowls, creases under her eyes, and a gray streak in her hair. Of course, in her arms is the lamb she had tried to rescue. In essence, Lecter is trying to suggest the statue The Pieta, which features Mary holding the body of Jesus (the Lamb of God) in her arms, with him immediately thereafter received his specially-ordered second dinner of lamb chops. Shortly thereafter, Lecter leaves Officer Boyle crucified and disemboweled on the outside of the cell.
As revealed on the Blu-Ray documentaries, "Breaking The Silence" and "From Page To Screen", both the film's beginning and ending were altered. Ted Tally's screenplay called for the film to begin with an FBI Raid not unlike the one featured in the opening sequence of Hannibal (2001). Thomas Harris' book ends with Lecter writing a threatening letter to Dr. Chilton. Ted Tally and Jonathan Demme decided it would be necessary for Lecter to track Chilton to a tropical island for a more dramatic and audience-pleasing closing, plus an all-expense studio-paid trip to shoot somewhere warm.
Anthony Hopkins had only 16 minutes on screen
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In an early version of Ted Tally's screenplay, Lecter's courthouse escape plan is revealed when the head of SWAT team recognizes the body.
The final lines are not delivered by Clarice as she repeats, "Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?", but rather, it is Dr. Chilton who delivers the last dialogue: "Hey, what? Oh, excuse me. I'm sorry. Is the security system all set up?....Thank you. I appreciate that."
During Agent Starling's first confrontation with Lecter, he describes one his drawing as 'Duomo seen from the Belvedere' indeed than Buffolo Bill is discovered in the same named city of Belvedere, Ohio.
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