The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Poster


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In preparation for his role, Sir Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons, and studied convicted murderers, and was present during some court hearings concerning gruesome murderers and serial killings.
Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Sir Anthony Hopkins' 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.
When Sir 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 Director 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."
Jame Gumb 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.
With twenty-four minutes and fifty-two seconds of screen time, Sir Anthony Hopkins' 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, at twenty-three minutes and thirty-nine seconds.
When Sir Anthony Hopkins' agent called him 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.
Sir Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster only share four scenes throughout the course of the film.
After Lecter was moved from Baltimore, the plan was to dress him in a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Sir 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.
Jodie Foster spent a great deal of time with F.B.I. 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.
One of the inspirations, from whom Sir Anthony Hopkins borrowed, for his interpretation of Hannibal Lecter, was a friend of his in London who rarely blinked when speaking, which unnerved anyone around him.
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.
Jame Gumb'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.
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 forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder.
The real-life F.B.I.'s Behavioral Science Unit assisted in the making of this film.
When characters are talking to Starling, they often talk directly to the camera. When she is talking to them, she is always looking slightly off-camera. Jonathan Demme has explained that this was done so as the audience would directly experience her point-of-view, but not theirs, hence encouraging the audience to more readily identify with her.
The production received full co-operation from the F.B.I., as they saw it as a potential recruiting tool to hire more female Agents.
When Jonathan Demme filmed the scene where Lecter and Starling first meet, Sir 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".
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.
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 number one greatest film villain (also out of fifty).
Sir Anthony Hopkins said he saw Lecter as similar to H.A.L. 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). A highly complex, highly intelligent, highly logical killing machine, who seems to know everything going on around him.
Sir Anthony Hopkins improvised the fast, slurping-type sound that Hannibal Lecter does. He did it spontaneously during filming, and everyone thought it was great. Jonathan Demme became annoyed with it after a while, but denied his irritation.
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 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. In Harris' novel, Lecter's cell did have bars but also a nylon net just behind them.
Sir Anthony Hopkins described his voice for Hannibal Lecter as, "a combination of Truman Capote and Katharine Hepburn."
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. 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?!"
To everyone's surprise, reclusive Author Thomas Harris sent all the Oscar recipients a case of wine.
The film surpassed its budget in its first week of release.
The pattern on the moth's back, in the movie posters, is not the natural pattern of the Death's-head hawkmoth. It is, in fact, Salvador Dalí's "In Voluptas Mors", a picture of seven naked women made to look like a human skull.
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.
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 re-used to create the establishing shots used in Red Dragon (2002).
After being cast as Jame Gumb, Ted Levine developed his character by reading profiles of serial killers. Levine later said he found the material very disturbing. Since Gumb was a crossdresser, he went to a few trans bars and interviewed some patrons.
The first moth cocoon found in one of the victim's throats was made from a combination of Tootsie Rolls and gummy bears, so it would be edible if swallowed.
The F.B.I. was very impressed by the film's accuracy in depicting criminal investigations, serial killers, and their victims. However, they disagreed with 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 and rare course of action of all time, never to be repeated again.
As of 2017, one of three films to win the top five Oscars: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay (in this case Adapted from Another Medium. Both Screenplay awards are considered part of the top five). The others are It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
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. Also, after listening to that recording Glenn punched Douglas.
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.
Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in December 2011, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
Originally, the film was to open with Clarice Starling and a male F.B.I. Agent in the middle of a drug bust. They were to burst into the room and make several 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.
Gene Hackman bought the rights to the novel. 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.
Jack Crawford was based on real-life F.B.I. Special Agent John E. Douglas, an early member of the F.B.I.'s Behavioral Sciences Unit, who coached Glenn on his portrayal of a member of the B.S.U. Douglas, still an active F.B.I. Special Agent during production, was in the midst of tracking Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who was believed to have killed more than ninety women in Washington between 1982 and 1998. Ridgway was arrested 2001, and pleaded guilty to forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder on November 5, 2003.
During location scouting for the house, in which the serial killer Jame Gumb was living, Ted Levine, who played Jame, was amazed to discover that the house being considered was not only in the town where he grew up but was literally next door to the house of his high school girlfriend.
When studying the character he played, Sir Anthony Hopkins noticed similar characteristics in reptiles. Reptiles only blink when they want to, and do it consciously. Therefore, in the movie, Hopkins only blinks in special moments and very consciously.
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."
Dino De Laurentiis, who had produced Manhunter (1986), passed on this movie, because Manhunter had flopped. He gave the rights away free to Orion Pictures. He then went on to co-produce Hannibal (2001) and Red Dragon (2002).
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 Hannibal (2001). In Hannibal, when Dr. Lecter and Clarice (Julianne Moore) speak on the phone for the first time, he does in fact say "Hello, Clarice". This was possibly put in by the writers of the movie as an inside joke, in reference to the misquoting of the original movie.
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.
Contrary to popular rumor, 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 (April 15, 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."
Clarice Starling was one of the biggest influences for creating the character of Dana Scully, according to The X-Files (1993) Creator Chris Carter. There is also a tribute to this film in the last episode of the ninth season, when Scully visits Mulder in the jail and he tells her, "I smelled you coming, Clarice".
The portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is rated as the number one villain on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains list.
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, the F.B.I.'s own training environment, which had always closed its doors to film crews. Visiting Quantico for the first time, 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.
Jodie Foster stated in Inside Story: The Silence of the Lambs (2010) that this is one of her many favorites movie of her own.
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 Tobacco hornworm 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).
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 twenty-five pounds for her role as Catherine Martin.
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 F.B.I. training facility in Quantico, Virginia. They studied under criminal profiling Agents, learned about firearms and Agent training, and sat in several classes.
The rules for speaking with Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins) are the same as the rules for speaking with Ethan Powell in Instinct (1999), a role also played by Hopkins.
The movie's line "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti." was voted as the number twenty-one movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). This line is taken almost verbatim from the book, but in the book, Lecter says a nice Amorone instead of Chianti. Both are types of wine.
At least six directors have roles in this film: Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kasi Lemmons, Roger Corman, Dan Butler (who directed episodes of Frasier (1993)), and a cameo by George A. Romero.
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.
Jodie Foster avoided Sir Anthony Hopkins during their scenes together, because she was terrified of him.
Sir John Hurt, Christopher Lloyd, Dustin Hoffman, Sir 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.
This is the only movie where Clarice actually uses the media nickname that they gave Dr. Lecter. When she is talking with Jack about who the subject she is to interview is, she says "Hannibal the Cannibal", but throughout the rest of the movie, and in Hannibal (2001), she calls him Dr. Lecter, except when she says "Hannibal Lecter" to Pazzi, to tell him who she is looking for. She respects him, so she always says Dr. Lecter, even when she's not speaking to him directly.
Stayed on top of the U.S. box-office for five weeks.
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, in which she appeared, 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.
Ed Harris turned down the role of Jack Crawford, because he didn't find the role interesting, and would rather have played Hannibal Lecter. He partially got his wish when he played a jailed serial killer, who assists in solving a murder in Just Cause (1995).
According to Jonathan Demme, there were three hundred applicants for the role of Clarice Starling. Meg Ryan and Michelle Pfeiffer turned the role down, because of the disturbing subject matter. Brooke Smith (who ended up playing Catherine Martin) and Nicole Kidman read for the part.
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.
Jonathan Demme cast Sir Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980). Hopkins has said that he felt the sharing-and-caring role of Dr. Frederick Treves was rather dull.
For the film's sequel and prequel, characters appearing in the mental hospital were never re-cast: Anthony Heald returned in Red Dragon (2002), and Sir Anthony Hopkins and Frankie Faison returned for that film and Hannibal (2001). All of the F.B.I. employees, however, were re-cast in the sequel and prequel: Jodie Foster was replaced by Julianne Moore, Scott Glenn with Harvey Keitel, and Ron Vawter with Ray Liotta.
A "Bon Appetit" magazine can be seen in Hannibal's temporary cell.
Dan Butler plays a role in two movies based on novels by Thomas Harris surrounding Dr. Lecter. The first was in Manhunter (1986), based on Harris' novel "Red Dragon", where he played an F.B.I. fingerprint analyst. Here, he plays Roden, the university entomologist who helps identify the Death's-head hawkmoth.
The first film widely available on home video at the time of the Academy Awards ceremony to win Best Picture.
Entertainment Weekly voted this as the fourth scariest film of all time.
Jonathan Demme met with Robert Duvall to see if he would be a good fit for the part of Hannibal Lecter.
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. In Hannibal (2001), Lecter is living in Florence as a fugitive.
The events in this film occur after the events in Manhunter (1986), which was based on Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon". Although there are several characters common to both films, there are only two actors who appear in both movies. Both play different characters. Frankie Faison played Lieutenant Fisk in Manhunter, and Barney in this film, and Dan Butler played an F.B.I. fingerprint expert in Manhunter, and an entomologist in this film.
Gene Siskel was the only mainstream critic to give this Best Picture winner a negative review.
The movie's poster was number sixteen of "The 25 Best Movie Posters Ever" by Premiere.
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, to which she goes, has what appears 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."
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 JonBenét 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.
The revolver that Jame Gumb 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.
Orion Pictures snapped up the film rights for five hundred thousand dollars.
Lecter 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 anti-depressant drugs, known as MAO inhibitors. MAO inhibitors were the first anti-depressants developed, and were used primarily on patients in mental institutions. Lecter worked in, and was committed to, a mental institution.
Part of Jodie Foster's deal for doing this movie, was that Orion Pictures would allow her to direct a film. She later directed Little Man Tate (1991).
The song heard playing while Jame Gumb 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.
Some of the scenes were filmed in Bellaire, Ohio, birthplace of Ted Levine (Jame Gumb, a.k.a. Buffalo Bill).
Then Secretary of Labor, Elizabeth Dole's, Washington, D.C. office doubled for that of the F.B.I. Director's office in this movie.
The third EMS attendant treating Sergeant Pembrie is Jeff Busch, a paramedic and owner of a Pittsburgh emergency vehicle company that detailed all of the emergency vehicles in the film.
In an interview, John Carpenter declared his disappointment over the movie focusing so much on Clarice Starling's character, and that he would have loved to direct this, making it "much more frightening and gripping."
Michelle Pfeiffer was Jonathan Demme's first choice to play Clarice Starling, after the two worked on Married to the Mob (1988), becoming close collaborators. After a long "courting" period of Demme in pursuit, and Pfeiffer considering playing the role, she ultimately turned it down, as she thought the film to be too dark and violent.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter's original line from the book is, "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big Amarone".
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During the film, in a televised announcement by the U.S. Senator, Ruth Martin, the Senator pleads for her daughter's life, and repeatedly mentions her name, Catherine. The F.B.I. Agents and trainees who are watching the announcement, remark that her repeated mentioning of Catherine's name is "smart", with Clarice Starling adding that the Senator's repeated use of her daughter's name could influence her kidnapper to see her daughter as a person, and not as a thing or object. This notion is in direct (and possibly deliberate) contrast with the way in which Buffalo Bill addresses Catherine during another scene by saying lines such as: "It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it's told", and "It places the lotion in the basket".
Sir Sean Connery was Jonathan Demme's first choice to play Hannibal Lecter, but he turned the part down. Connery did a similar thriller, called Just Cause (1995), where Ed Harris played a serial killer. The film was neither a critical, nor commercial smash like this film.
The second film to feature the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the first being Manhunter (1986), where Hannibal's last name was spelled "Lecktor", just like in the books.
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-rating remained for two years, until the OFLC created a new film rating, "MA15+", meaning people under fifteen years of age must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The film was re-rated in 1993.
In the second draft of Ted Tally's screenplay, the names of three characters had to be changed from Thomas Harris' novel for legal reasons: Jack Crawford became Ray Campbell, Frederick Chilton became Herbert Prentiss, and Hannibal Lecter became Gideon Quinn.
Despite the fact that this was filmed in the standard spherical format, "Filmed in Panavision" is listed in the end credits.
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. Jonathan Demme is a fan of Debbie Harry.
In one scene, Catherine Martin is shown speeding along in her car singing American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Brooke Smith (Catherine Martin) was a fan of New York City hardcore, and had wanted the producers to use a Bad Brains song instead. The other song in consideration for that scene was Rufus and Chaka Khan's "Tell Me Something Good".
Inspiration for the song "Buffalo Bill" by Eminem.
(At around thirty-nine minutes) The song playing during the funeral is "Rock of Ages".
Michael Keaton, Mickey Rourke, and Kenneth Branagh were all considered for the role of Jack Crawford.
Dedicated to Trey Wilson.
Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center is a real facility near Montauk, New York.
Anthony Heald was originally cast as Roden though he initially sought the role of Dr. Frederick Chilton, a character that was written as being older than Heald. However, after a table reading with Jodie Foster where he filled in as Hannibal Lecter, he was then cast as Dr. Chilton.
DIRECTOR_CAMEO(Jonathan Demme): Wearing a blue cap at the end of the film.
According to an old news article that Starling reads on microfilm, "Judge Detox" presided over Dr. Lecter's murder trial.
When Clarice is researching Lecter's background, Crawford is mentioned in the articles, but Will Graham, who actually identified and captured him, is not. It is unlikely that the press would have reported Crawford's role more prominently than Graham's, since Manhunter (1986) and Red Dragon (2002) show that Freddy Lounds (Stephen Lang and Philip Seymour Hoffman) incurred Graham's and Crawford's wrath for photographing him, while he was recovering in the hospital.
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The three male leads (Sir 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). Dan Butler also worked with her in Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011).
The reference to Buffalo Bill having had a past homosexual relationship (mentioned during Lecter's conversation with Senator Martin) was not in the novel.
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Jonathan Demme signed on as director after reading the novel.
Gay rights protesters complained that making Jame Gumb a transsexual was highly clichéd and a reflection of and/or pandering to public hostilities around the issue of sexual orientation. This is despite it being said in the film that Gumb only thinks he's a transsexual due to trauma, and that transsexuals are usually quite passive.
The only film in which Jodie Foster won an acting Oscar for her performance in a film which won Best Picture.
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The only film that year to be nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars, it won both awards.
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The second time Sir Anthony Hopkins played a doctor. He did so previously in The Elephant Man (1980).
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When Clarice visits Dr Chilton after the autopsy, he calls her (what sounds like) 'Scully' instead of Starling. Agent Scully in the X Files is based on the character of Clarice.
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Sergeant Pembry's tie pin is a tiny pair of handcuffs.
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The character of Jame Gumb inspired the song "Lady in the Pit" by Bonecage.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Anthony Heald has since gone on to play Dr. Frederick Treves in a successful stage production of The Elephant Man, a role which Anthony Hopkins played in the movie of the same name.
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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Fangoria magazine was declined the chance to cover the film because Orion and the filmmakers felt that the magazine's focus on the horror genre would stigmatize its awards season chances. They were also barred from covering Cape Fear (1991) for similar reasons.
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Clarice Starlings car is a 1975 Ford Pinto.
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As of 2015, The Godfather: Part II (1974) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) were the only sequels to win Best Picture. This film qualifies as well, since it is a sequel to Manhunter (1986). Even if one does not accept this argument, there are some parallels between this franchise and the two others. Like The Return of the King, it is scored by Howard Shore, and won three of the same Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium. Both feature a former child star (Jodie Foster, Elijah Wood, and Sean Astin), and both have a climax in which that character confronts a villain (Buffalo Bill, Gollum) who is threatened by the loss of his "Precious" (in this film, a dog, in the other, a ring). Sean Astin's father is John Astin, who played Foster's father in Freaky Friday (1976) and The Addams Family. He also appeared in the parody film, The Silence of the Hams (1994). Both films were followed by prequels (Red Dragon (2002); The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), both of which feature a dragon as the villain. Richard Armitage, who appeared in The Hobbit films, also played Francis Dolarhyde (the Red Dragon) on Hannibal (2013). Roger Corman appeared in this film and The Godfather: Part II (1974), while Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi in The Godfather (1972), and The Godfather: Part II (1974), appeared briefly in Red Dragon (2002).
The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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This film features two actors that have portrayed Alan Shepard, the first American in space, Scott Glenn and Ted Levine. Glenn played Shepard in The Right Stuff (1983), and Levine played him in the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon (1998).
The air ambulance seen, in the hangar at Memphis International Airport, is a Short 330.
Released eight days away from Jonathan Demme's forty-seventh birthday.
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Silence of the Lambs stars Scott Glenn (FBI Director Crawford) who played Alan Shepard in the film The Right Stuff. Also in Silence of the Lambs is Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill) who played Alan Shepard in the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.
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In the scene near the end of the film, when Jack Crawford is speaking to Clarice from a plane, before she enters the killer's house, you can see that the three men shown in the scene on the plane are all left handed.


Roger Corman: The veteran filmmaker, and President of New World Pictures, played the F.B.I. Director.
Chris Isaak: S.W.A.T. team commander.
George A. Romero: The bearded man who accompanies Chilton and the two guards, who forcibly remove Clarice Starling after her final meeting with Lecter. In addition, Dave Early from Dawn of the Dead (1978) appears as one of the S.W.A.T. team.
Ted Tally: The F.B.I. tactical team member with the mustache and glasses, during the raid near the end of the movie.
Edward Saxon: Head in jar.
Kenneth Utt: The coroner.


The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

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.
During Clarice's first meeting with Dr. Chilton, he mentions that when Hannibal Lecter attacked a nurse, his pulse "never got above eighty-five". While Lecter is escaping in the ambulance, the paramedic mentions over the intercom that the patient has a pulse of eighty-four, again showing Lecter's icy calmness, despite performing horrible acts.
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. In Hannibal (2001), Clarice discovers that Lecter has been living under an alias in Florence.
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.
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 F.B.I. 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. (The final scene was shot on the island of Bimini, which is part of the Bahamas.)
The position of Boyle's body after Lecter has disemboweled and hung him from the cell was inspired by the work of painter Francis Bacon.
After the shoot-out with Gumb, Clarice has partially-burned gunpowder buried in the skin on the side of her face, the result of a near hit. One name for this type of injury is "coal miner's tattoo", a clever reference to the character's background.
When Clarice Starling first discovers Catherine Martin in the well in Jame Gumb's basement, Martin's gown, wide-eyed fear, and holding Gumb's white poodle "Precious", can be seen as a direct mirror of Starling's own childhood memory of trying to save a lamb. Catherine refuses to give up the dog after being rescued.
When Jame Gumb grabs the gun in his bed, right after Catherine captures his dog, you can see that the bed sheet has two stitched Nazi swastikas, showing another layer of the killer's character. Sometime after that there is yet another swastika half hidden by a picture on the wall.
In the movie, it is said that Miggs died by swallowing his own tongue. This is physically impossible to do, unless the tongue has been cut off. It's not particularly fatal, either. This is a figure-of-speech, referring to an unconscious person suffocating because his tongue has blocked his airway, being used incorrectly. It is also possible that Miggs bit off his own tongue and swallowed (choked on) it at Dr. Lecter's urging.
Body Count: eight.
In an early version of Ted Tally's screenplay, Lecter's courthouse escape plan is revealed, when the head of the S.W.A.T. team recognizes the body.
The film has many "cat" clues in the first victim's house that seem to lead Clarice to the identity of the killer and to where Catherine Martin might be. There's a photo of Frederika (the first victim) and her cat, and then a cat figurine by the jewelry box with Polaroid photos. And the pet cat seems to lead Clarice to the wardrobe with the diamond-shaped dress taping that resembled the skinning of one of the victims. Notably, the name Catherine has the word cat in it.
During the closing credits, if you look very closely at Hannibal when he is in the far distance, among the crowd, his hat falls off his head, and he quickly picks it up. This happens a little before the screen fades to black.
Except for Starling and Lecter's fingers touching during the case file exchange in Tennessee, the two characters have absolutely no physical contact throughout the entire movie.
While Buffalo Bill shows the most similarity to necrophiliac and murderer Ed Gein (most obviously with his making a "woman suit"), Hannibal also takes a note from Gein. At the end part of his escape plan is to wear the skin of Agent Pembrey's face to disguise himself. Gein was known to wear the faces of the dead women he mutilated, which also inspired Leatherface in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).
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."

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