A young F.B.I. cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Writers:

Thomas Harris (based on the novel by), Ted Tally (screenplay by)
Popularity
95 ( 5)
Top Rated Movies #23 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 64 wins & 51 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jodie Foster ... Clarice Starling
Lawrence A. Bonney Lawrence A. Bonney ... FBI Instructor
Kasi Lemmons ... Ardelia Mapp
Lawrence T. Wrentz Lawrence T. Wrentz ... Agent Burroughs
Scott Glenn ... Jack Crawford
Anthony Heald ... Dr. Frederick Chilton
Frankie Faison ... Barney
Don Brockett ... Friendly Psychopath
Frank Seals Jr. Frank Seals Jr. ... Brooding Psychopath
Stuart Rudin ... Miggs
Anthony Hopkins ... Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Maria Skorobogatov Maria Skorobogatov ... Young Clarice (as Masha Skorobogatov)
Jeffrie Lane Jeffrie Lane ... Clarice's Father
Leib Lensky Leib Lensky ... Mr. Lang
George 'Red' Schwartz George 'Red' Schwartz ... Mr. Lang's Driver (as Red Schwartz)
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Storyline

F.B.I. trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) works hard to advance her career, while 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 (Scott Glenn). While she is still a trainee, Crawford asks her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins), a psychiatrist imprisoned, thus far, for eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer 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" (Ted Levine), who has so far killed five victims, all located in the eastern U.S., all young women, who are slightly overweight (especially around the hips), all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From the terrifying best seller See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hannibal Lecter was not originally supposed to be British. The character is described to be from Baltimore, not Great Britain. Gene Hackman, an American actor, was originally supposed to play this role, before he backed out, and Brian Cox, another actor, played him in the original prequel, Manhunter (1986), released in 1986. But Anthony Hopkins so owned the role that they changed it for him. The later novels 'Hannibal' and 'Hannibal Rising' would reveal that Hannibal isn't British, but originally came from Lithuania. He lived in France prior to moving to the USA in early adulthood, which may explain his unusual accent. See more »

Goofs

Crawford tells Clarice that Miggs died by swallowing his tongue after Hannibal said something that made him cry. Literally swallowing one's tongue is impossible. However, an unconscious person's tongue may sag backwards and block their airway, leading to suffocation. This is what is usually referred to by the phrase. It is not a voluntary act. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
FBI instructor: Starling! Starling! Crawford wants to see you in his office.
Clarice Starling: Thank you, sir.
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Crazy Credits

After the Copyright notice and MPAA logo, a logo appears with the text "A Luta Continua". This is not a production company credit; instead, it's Portuguese for "The Struggle Continues" ("To be continued"). See more »

Alternate Versions

Criterion's Special Edition on DVD features outtake footage not included in the theatrical version, including:
  • a longer version of the scene where Clarice discovers Raspail's head inside Your-Self Storage;
  • a longer version of the scene where Lector explains to Clarice how to identify Buffalo Bill from his rejected applications for sex change surgery. The dialogue is longer and is taken almost verbatim from Thomas Harris' novel, and plays over a scene where the camera moves inside Buffalo Bill's cellar, stopping at the edge of the pit where Senator Martin's daughter is held. This is the same scene that appears in the theatrical version, right after Starling's visit to the enthomologists Roden and Pilcher, with no voiceover but with music and sound effects and Katherine Martin's screams coming from the pit;
  • a brief new scene where Starling is given a gun from instructor Brigham right before her departure for West Virginia;
  • an alternate version of the car scene where Starling and Crawford are talking after the Elk River victim's autopsy. In the theatrical version, Crawford apologizes to Starling for humiliating her in front of the state troopers; the alternate take has Starling revealing that a bug cocoon was found in Benjamin Raspail's throat. In the theatrical version this information is not revealed until later, when Starling mentions it during one of her encounters with Lector;
  • a longer version of the telephone conversation between FBI Director Burke, Paul Krendler and Crawford after the phony offer to Lekter has been discovered; Crawford tries to convince Krendler not to accept Lector's help;
  • a new scene showing a meeting with Starling, Crawford, Paul Krendler and and FBI Director Burke; Krendler blames Starling and Crawford for Lector's escape and Burke suspends them both from the case;
  • the DVD also features the complete video monologue from performance artist Jim Roche as the TV Evangelist; in the theatrical version Roche appears on a TV put in front of Lector's cell, as punishment for Miggs' death.
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Connections

Referenced in Whose Line Is It Anyway?: Jeff Davis 10 (2020) See more »

Soundtracks

American Girl
(1976)
Performed by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
Written by Tom Petty (as T. Petty)
Courtesy of Gone Gator Records
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User Reviews

 
Suspenseful doesn't come close!
20 March 1999 | by ClothahumpSee all my reviews

Great job by Foster and Hopkins. Hannibal's part could have been fleshed out a little more, though (sorry, couldn't resist that one). The book described him in more detail and made him even more reprehensible; the movie could have spent five minutes more and done the same.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

14 February 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Silence of the Lambs See more »

Filming Locations:

Clay County, West Virginia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,766,814, 18 February 1991

Gross USA:

$130,742,922

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$272,742,922
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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