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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
310 ( 20)
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:

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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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 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 Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan Demme realized it would be pointless to cut away from their performances and announced, "I guess we aren't going to Montana." See more »

Goofs

During the discussion Clarice has with Hannibal in the cage, she says "Now, please listen to me. We've only got five..." and Hannibal is supposed to interrupt her but it there is a brief pause before Hannibal speaks. It is clear that she stopped talking without being interrupted. 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

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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 80th Annual Academy Awards (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Real Men
(1981)
Performed by Savage Republic
Written by Bruce Licher (as B. Licher), Mark Erskine (as M. Erskine), and Jeff Long (as J. Long)
Courtesy of Independent Project Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
One of the Greatest Thrillers of all Time.
1 August 2017 | by notoriousCASKSee all my reviews

The Silence of the lambs is a bona fide masterpiece you cannot miss, it's a masterwork of suspense that blends the elements of horror, crime and psychology into one tight and smooth story. It's only the third film in history to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Adapted Screenplay and that imply something about its technical quality as a film. It features expertise level of craftsmanship in all departments of filmmaking, and takes a huge bonus from the exquisite performances put in by its stellar cast.

Jodie Foster stars as Clarice Starling, a top student at the FBI's training academy. FBI agent Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) wants Clarice to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a genius psychiatrist who is also a violent psychopath, serving life behind bars for various acts of murder and cannibalism. Crawford believes that Lecter may have insight into a case of a serial killer called Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), that murders and skins his victims and that Starling as an attractive young woman, may be just the bait to make him help with the case.

The direction by Jonathan Demme is marvelous, as the film introduces its chilling sense of dread and has the audience on the edge of their seats, from the moment Howard Shore's score hits the screen till the end of the film, especially during the climax with a lot of perfectly crafted suspenseful and nail-biting moments. The editing is perfect as the pace is methodical from start to finish, and each and every sequence is relevant to the story. The cinematography by Tak Fujimoto is fantastic as it fully succeeds into creating a very dark and brooding atmosphere that captivates as well as terrorize the audience, while also exhibiting excellent camera work that makes heavy use of close-ups which increase the creepiness and tension along with displaying an optimal color palette from start to finish. The script by Ted Tally, also packs a very well structured plot, every character has a well-defined arc, all the themes are smartly addressed, the attention to detail is quite impressive, and the complete story and narrative are perfect.

The performances are incredible. Jodie Foster as Clarice is absolutely brilliant and gives an impeccable performance as a woman who is desperately trying to forget her painful past and yet at the same time tries to prove her worth in a male dominant world. Anthony Hopkins as the genius psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter is the perfect amalgamation of charisma, intelligence and destructive violence, and gives a bone-chilling and memorable performance that will stand the passage of time as one of the absolute best. The small amount of screen time that Hopkins is given is a definitive testament to his acting capabilities, as with such an elegant and minimal performance, he solidifies himself as one of the most iconic villains of all time. The charisma and electrifying chemistry between the two actors makes every scene they share an instant classic.

In conclusion, the Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest films ever made and a masterwork of brilliant direction, smart screenplay, splendid camerawork, tight editing, marvelous score and exquisite performances. The film absolutely deserves all the accolades and recognition it gets, for both its contributions to cinema and the immense impact it had on pop culture. Jonathan Demme's magnum opus is not only the quintessential suspence and psychological horror film it is also an ingenious observation of humanity's dark and violent nature and a masterpiece that every film lover must see.


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