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The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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A young FBI 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 (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Popularity
286 ( 85)
Top Rated Movies #23 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 62 wins & 50 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

FBI trainee Clarice Starling works hard to advance her career, while trying to hide/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 asks her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter, 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, 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 chose ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Brilliant. Cunning. Psychotic. In his mind lies the clue to a ruthless killer. - Clarice Starling, FBI. Brilliant. Vulnerable. Alone. She must trust him to stop the killer. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

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, 15 February 1991, Wide Release

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 SR

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "death head" marking on the moth is an obvious reference to Edgar Allan Poe's famous short story "The Gold Bug", which also features an insect with a skull-like pattern on its back. See more »

Goofs

As Clarice is looking through the microfilm, the pen in her mouth switches places several times. See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

There is a 'Moth Wrangler/Make-Up' listed in the crew list. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Finnish VHS version removes Hannibal Lecter beating Pembry against the cell's bars, and spraying liquid to his eyes (along with the shots of the cuffed guard screaming Jesus Christ!, and a shot of him trying to break loose). 2. Lecter beating a guard with a nightstick several times (reduced from six hits to one!). 3. A outdrawn sequence that comes right after Lecter has whacked the guards (where he plays music and walks across the dead guard's body) is completely removed (along with Lecter's dialogue Ready when you are, sergeant Pembry). 4. Right after Buffalo Bill is shot by Clarice Starling there is a long-lasting (about fifteen secs) shot of his bloody dead body, that in the cut version is not that long anymore. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Manhunt 2 (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

The Magic Flute
(uncredited)
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A truly remarkable film
16 November 2005 | by davideo-2See all my reviews

STAR RATING: ***** The Works **** Just Misses the Mark *** That Little Bit In Between ** Lagging Behind * The Pits

Rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is assigned to get into the mind of notorious incarcerated serial killer Dr Hannibal 'the Cannibal' Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to get his evaluation on the elusive Buffalo Bill, a serial killer who's been abducting and killing young women. When a prominent senator's daughter is kidnapped, it becomes a race against time to find her before she is killed and all the while Lecter is playing mind-games with Starling as well as any help he can provide...

The first of Thomas Harris's Hannibal novels to be adapted for the screen, only to be followed some years later with some very lacklustre (but inevitable!) follow-ups, despite it's age this remains one of the most effective chillers of modern times. Despite the mainstream appeal of the film, the grainy lighting and laid-back budget give it an art-house feel that sets it apart from other such films that were as successful. The film manages some effectively disturbing scenes that make it a not altogether pleasant viewing experience.

Performances wise, in a very early role, a young Foster shows her promise for future roles, with a gripping portrayal of naivety and vulnerability here that is very compelling and convincing, even though there are some plausibility problems with someone as junior as her being assigned to do something like that. Hopkins too is brilliant as Lecter, playing a dangerous man behind bars who's ability to get inside your head and see the things you don't want him to see makes him no less dangerous, if not more so, than if he was on the outside. He's certainly received the most acclaim for his role over the years, but in my humble opinion, he's actually over-shadowed (though only slightly!) by Ted Levine as Buffalo Bill, a truly extraordinary psychopath with an unsettling sexuality disorder that is probably one of the nastiest things ever to be seen in such a mainstream film. As supporting FBI agent Crawford, Scott Glenn is impressive but sort of just faded into DTV land after this film.

It's easily one of the most popular films ever made, so it's likely a lot of you are familiar with it already, but with reviews on the so-inferior follow-up films Red Dragon and Hannibal, I thought it only right that I'd finally give this first film a mention. Truly remarkable. *****


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