A Filmmaker's Guide to: “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
An Appreciation of Cinema (Pt.13)
In this chapter of ‘the filmmaker’s guide’ we are going to explore some of the films that have changed our outlook of the possibilities in cinema in some way, shape or form. These can include, but are not limited to: revolutionary cinematography, narratives that challenge the social structure and the common view, trademark styles of auter cinema, brilliant adaptations of novels and other works, films of philosophical value and films that touch our hearts and souls with their incredible underlying messages and morals. Within each of the films in this chapter there is a certain something that makes them special and a certain something that makes them linger long after we have watched them for the first time. Lasting impressions are difficult to create, but I think that the films we will briefly touch on in this chapter are some of the films we will never ever forget.
“The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) dir. by Jonathan Demme
Possibly one of the most influential thriller films of all time and one of the greatest films of the 90s, “The Silence of the Lambs” became one of Sir Anthony Hopkins most recognisable characters in only months of its release. The only horror film to win “The Big Five” Academy Awards and the only horror movie ever to win the Best Picture Academy Award, this film had far more influence on the cinema community than it is normally given credit for. Great performances by Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony Hopkins are just the beginning, after which we have the incredible directing skills of Jonathan Demme and the vision of Thomas Harris brought to life on the screen through the adapting talents of the great Ted Tally. The film won the Academy Awards for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Golden Globe Award was won by Jodie Foster for Best Actress and the leading man and woman won the Best Actor and Best Actress BAFTA Awards respectively. It was a great moment in horror film history for all fans and to this day, is the only film that I know that truly grosses out my mother (it’s the noise Hannibal Lecter makes with his mouth that makes her shiver).
Takashi Fujimoto’s cinematography was just so very intricate that I still cannot believe he didn’t get the award for Best Cinematography. The scene in which the victim is in the hole with the dog is filmed so amazingly and then we have the scene where Clarice first visits Hannibal Lecter which is one of the greatest filmed scenes in modern horror cinema. But, I have to say that the film in which I think Fujimoto did some of his best work was when Hannibal Lecter requests food in order to escape from the prison. It is such an incredible scene and you can really tell there was a lot of suspense work that went into the cinematography. We have the various close ups, then the multiple cuts that happen quickly in succession between victims and finally, the strange and uncomfortable stillness and slowness of shots after this has all taken place. It really is a piece of work he should be proud of.
During the years, “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) has come under much scrutiny for certain depictions regarding the LGBT people and the way in which women are viewed in the film. However, the film itself is still a piece of beautiful art and cannot be tainted by any criticisms of the sort. AFI named Hannibal Lecter the top villain in “100 Years, 100 Heroes and Villains” with Clarice at number six. In an ABC show entitled “The Greatest Movies of Our Time”, “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) came to win the shows fan-based poll for the best suspense/thriller. An amazing film and a great experience to watch over and over again, there is far more to explore than has been stated here.
I'm going to show you why we insist on such precautions. On the evening of July 8, 1981, he complained of chest pains and was taken to the dispensary. His mouthpiece and restraints were removed for an EKG. When the nurse leaned over him, he did this to her. The doctors managed to reset her jaw, more or less. Saved one of her eyes … his pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue.
- Dr. Chilton, “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)