The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Poster

Anthony Hopkins: Dr. Hannibal Lecter



  • Hannibal Lecter : A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

  • Hannibal Lecter : Well, Clarice - have the lambs stopped screaming?

  • [last lines] 

    Hannibal Lecter : [on telephone]  I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye.

    Clarice Starling : Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?... Dr. Lecter?...

  • Hannibal Lecter : [shouts]  No!

    [normal voice] 

    Hannibal Lecter : I will listen now. After your father's murder, you were orphaned. You were ten years old. You went to live with cousins on a sheep and horse ranch in Montana. And...?

    Clarice Starling : [tears begin forming in her eyes]  And one morning, I just ran away.

    Hannibal Lecter : No "just", Clarice. What set you off? You started at what time?

    Clarice Starling : Early, still dark.

    Hannibal Lecter : Then something woke you, didn't it? Was it a dream? What was it?

    Clarice Starling : I heard a strange noise.

    Hannibal Lecter : What was it?

    Clarice Starling : It was... screaming. Some kind of screaming, like a child's voice.

    Hannibal Lecter : What did you do?

    Clarice Starling : I went downstairs, outside. I crept up into the barn. I was so scared to look inside, but I had to.

    Hannibal Lecter : And what did you see, Clarice? What did you see?

    Clarice Starling : Lambs. The lambs were screaming.

    Hannibal Lecter : They were slaughtering the spring lambs?

    Clarice Starling : And they were screaming.

    Hannibal Lecter : And you ran away?

    Clarice Starling : No. First I tried to free them. I... I opened the gate to their pen, but they wouldn't run. They just stood there, confused. They wouldn't run.

    Hannibal Lecter : But you could and you did, didn't you?

    Clarice Starling : Yes. I took one lamb, and I ran away as fast as I could.

    Hannibal Lecter : Where were you going, Clarice?

    Clarice Starling : I don't know. I didn't have any food, any water and it was very cold, very cold. I thought, I thought if I could save just one, but... he was so heavy. So heavy. I didn't get more than a few miles when the sheriff's car picked me up. The rancher was so angry he sent me to live at the Lutheran orphanage in Bozeman. I never saw the ranch again.

    Hannibal Lecter : What became of your lamb, Clarice?

    Clarice Starling : They killed him.

  • Hannibal Lecter : Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling?


    Hannibal Lecter : Enthrall me with your acumen.

    Clarice Starling : It excites him. Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims.

    Hannibal Lecter : I didn't.

    Clarice Starling : No. No, you ate yours.

  • Hannibal Lecter : First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?

    Clarice Starling : He kills women...

    Hannibal Lecter : No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does? What needs does he serve by killing?

    Clarice Starling : Anger, um, social acceptance, and, huh, sexual frustrations, sir...

    Hannibal Lecter : No! He covets. That is his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer now.

    Clarice Starling : No. We just...

    Hannibal Lecter : No. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don't your eyes seek out the things you want?

  • Hannibal Lecter : Tell me, Senator: did you nurse Catherine yourself?

    Senator Ruth Martin : What?

    Hannibal Lecter : Did you breast-feed her?

    Paul Krendler : Now wait a minute...

    Senator Ruth Martin : Yes, I did.

    Hannibal Lecter : Toughened your nipples, didn't it?

    Paul Krendler : You son of a bitch!

    Hannibal Lecter : Amputate a man's leg and he can still feel it tickling. Tell me, mum, when your little girl is on the slab, where will it tickle you?

    Senator Ruth Martin : Take this... *thing* back to Baltimore!

    Hannibal Lecter : Five foot ten, strongly built, about a hundred and eighty pounds; hair blonde, eyes pale blue. He'd be about thirty-five now. He said he lived in Philadelphia, but he may have lied. That's all I can remember, mum, but if I think of any more, I will let you know. Oh, and Senator, just one more thing: love your suit!

  • Hannibal Lecter : Look for severe childhood disturbances associated with violence. Our Billy wasn't born a criminal, Clarice. He was made one through years of systematic abuse. Billy hates his own identity, you see, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual. But his pathology is a thousand times more savage and more terrifying.

  • Hannibal Lecter : You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition's given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you've tried so desperately to shed: pure West Virginia. What is your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you... all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars... while you could only dream of getting out... getting anywhere... getting all the way to the FBI.

    Clarice Starling : You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you - why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to.

  • Clarice Starling : Where are you, Dr. Lecter?

    Hannibal Lecter : I've no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world is more interesting with you in it.

  • Hannibal Lecter : You're very frank, Clarice. I think it would be quite something to know you in private life.

  • Clarice Starling : Did you do all these drawings, Doctor?

    Hannibal Lecter : Ah. That is the Duomo seen from the Belvedere. Do you know Florence?

    Clarice Starling : All that detail just from memory, sir?

    Hannibal Lecter : Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view.

  • Hannibal Lecter : Jack Crawford is helping your career isn't he? Apparently he likes you and you like him too.

    Clarice Starling : I never thought about it.

    Hannibal Lecter : Do you think that Jack Crawford wants you sexually? True, he is much older but do you think he visualizes scenarios, exchanges, fucking you?

    Clarice Starling : That doesn't interest me Doctor and frankly, it's, it's the sort of thing that Miggs would say.

    Hannibal Lecter : Not anymore.

  • Hannibal Lecter : You still wake up sometimes, don't you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs.

    Clarice Starling : Yes.

    Hannibal Lecter : And you think if you save poor Catherine, you could make them stop, don't you? You think if Catherine lives, you won't wake up in the dark ever again to that awful screaming of the lambs.

    Clarice Starling : I don't know. I don't know.

    Hannibal Lecter : Thank you, Clarice. Thank you.

    Clarice Starling : Tell me his name, Doctor.

    Hannibal Lecter : Dr. Chilton, I presume. I think you know each other.

    Dr. Frederick Chilton : Okay. Let's go.

    Clarice Starling : It's your turn, Doctor.

    Dr. Frederick Chilton : Out!

    Clarice Starling : Tell me his name!

    Boyle : I'm sorry, ma'am. We've got orders. We have to put you on a plane. Come on, now.

    [Chilton and the guards start leading Clarice out] 

    Hannibal Lecter : Brave Clarice. You will let me know when those lambs stop screaming, won't you?

    Clarice Starling : Tell me his name, Doctor!

    Hannibal Lecter : Clarice, your case file. Goodbye, Clarice.

  • Hannibal Lecter : People will say we're in love.

  • Hannibal Lecter : Now then, tell me. What did Miggs say to you? Multiple Miggs in the next cell. He hissed at you. What did he say?

    Clarice Starling : He said, "I can smell your cunt."

    Hannibal Lecter : I see. I myself cannot. You use Evyan skin cream, and sometimes you wear L'Air du Temps, but not today.

  • Clarice Starling : If you didn't kill him, then who did, sir?

    Hannibal Lecter : Who can say. Best thing for him, really. His therapy was going nowhere.

  • Hannibal Lecter : All good things to those who wait.

  • Hannibal Lecter : Closer, please. Clo-ser...

  • Hannibal Lecter : "Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center." Sounds charming.

    Clarice Starling : That's only a part of the island. There's a very, very nice beach. Terns nest there. There's beautiful...

    Hannibal Lecter : [cuts her off]  Terns? Mmh. If I help you, Clarice, it will be "turns" with us too. Quid pro quo. I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself. Quid pro quo. Yes or no?


    Hannibal Lecter : Yes or no, Clarice? Poor little Catherine is waiting.

    Clarice Starling : Go, doctor.

  • [Pembry can be heard moaning in the background] 

    Hannibal Lecter : Ready when you are, Sergeant Pembry.

  • Hannibal Lecter : You fly back to school, now, little Starling. Fly, fly, fly...

  • Hannibal Lecter : Good evening, Clarice.

  • Hannibal Lecter : There are three major centers for transsexual surgery - Johns Hopkins, University of Minnesota, and Columbus Medical Center.

  • Hannibal Lecter : Advancement, of course. Listen carefully. Look deep within yourself, Clarice Starling. Go seek out Miss Mofet, an old patient of mine. M-o-f-e-t. Go now, I don't think Miggs could manage again quite so soon, even though he is crazy.


    Hannibal Lecter : Go now!

  • Hannibal Lecter : [lights go on]  Thank you, Barney.

    Clarice Starling : Where are your drawings?

    Hannibal Lecter : Punishment, you see, for Miggs. Like that Gospel Programme. When you're gone they'll turn the volume way up. Doctor Chiltern does enjoy his petty torments.

  • Hannibal Lecter : I would not have had that happen to you, discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me.

  • Clarice Starling : The wig, the dress, the makeup. Raspail was a transvestite?

    Hannibal Lecter : In life? Oh, no. Garden-variety Manic Depressive. Tedious, very tedious. I did not kill him I assure you just tucked him away, very much as I found him, after he'd missed three appointments.

    Clarice Starling : If you didn't kill him, who did?

    Hannibal Lecter : Who can say? Best thing for him, really, his therapy was going nowhere. No, just think of him as a fledgling killer's first attempt at transformation.

    Clarice Starling : What do you mean fledgling killer? Do you mean he's killed again?

    Hannibal Lecter : I've been in this room for eight years, now Clarice, and I know they'll never let me out, not while I'm alive. What I want is a view where I can see a tree, or even water. I want to be in a federal institution far away from Doctor Chiltern. I'll help you catch him, Clarice.

    Clarice Starling : You know who he is, don't you? Tell me who decapitated your patient.

    Hannibal Lecter : All good things to those who wait. I've waited, but how long can you and Jackie-boy wait? Our little Billy must already be looking for that next special someone.

  • Hannibal Lecter : That is very slippery of you, Agent Starling.

  • Clarice Starling : There's no correlation in the literature between transsexualism and violence. Transsexuals are very passive.

    Hannibal Lecter : ...Billy is not a real transsexual. There are three major centers for transsexual surgery... I wouldn't be surprised if Billy had applied for sex reassignment at one or all of them and been rejected... Billy hates his own identity you see, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual.

  • Clarice Starling : Doctor, we don't have any more time for any of this now.

    Hannibal Lecter : But we don't reckon time the same way, do we, Clarice?

  • Hannibal Lecter : Everything that's good in the world is for those who wait.

  • Hannibal Lecter : All good things to those who wait! I've waited, but how long can you and Jacky-boy wait? Our little Billy must be looking for... that next Special Someone.

See also

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