Silence Of The Lambs

Silence Of The Lambs



Silence Of The Lambs provides a much more
realistic monster, the warped human mind



Silence Of The Lambs


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By this time, everyone knows the story of the lambs. A psychotic serial killer, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) is on the loose. He removes portions of the skin of victims. In order to help catch him the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) assigns a bright, young FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jody Foster) to interview the heinous serial killer Dr. Hannibal ‘ The Cannibal ’ Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins). What follows is one of the truly most chilling films ever made.

While so many films depend on a monster created by science, mutated, dropped from outer space, Silence Of The Lambs provides a much more realistic monster, the warped human mind. While Bill is evil and twisted he is nothing compared to Lector. Hannibal is extremely intelligent. He is gifted with acute powers of observation and insight into the human mind far beyond his training as a psychiatrist, he truly knows how to get into the mind of any living person. The horror here is in the realism. No giant creature so an unassuming man that is evil incarnate. The script by Thomas Harris and Ted Talley, based on a novel by Harris is haunting. There is not a wasted word in Silence Of The Lambs. Every piece of dialogue will keep you on the edge of your seat, fascinated by the tale unfolding before your eyes.

The performances in Silence Of The Lambs are nothing less than genius. Only three times in the history of the Oscars has a film come away with a high five, Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. Silence Of The Lambs was one of them. Hopkins and Foster basically carry the story. As Lector, Hopkins brings this complicated character to life with control, precision and craft no other actor could have managed. Every movement is deliberate, every facial expression calculated and every word given great care, just as Lector would have done. He paints a picture of Lector as a polite, civil man, which makes the horror even more tangible. Hopkins owns this role as few actors can ever own one. The range of Hopkins is incredible. To think that the man that can give us all nightmares in this role was also the comic actor in Road to Wellville.

In order to make Silence Of The Lambs work so well you need an adversary worthy of the evil Dr. Lector. Here is where Foster really shines. As Starling she is young and inexperienced but more than up to the challenge required for the verbal jousting with Lector. She knows she is dealing with a monster but she is also forced to face the ghosts in her own past.

The award-winning director of this film is Jonathan Demme. Not only did he bring Silence Of The Lambs to the Oscars but also the incredible drama, Philadelphia. His style of direction is masterful in how it comes across, controlled simplicity. There are no tricks in the cuts or lighting, no strange angles or framing only the frank presentation of the talent on the screen. While it comes across as simple the details of Demme’s direction is complete control. It is obvious that he takes great care in each of the many set ups Silence Of The Lambs presents. Little touches that you might miss at first viewing so how great this director is how he brings out the best in his actors.

For example some 12 minutes into Silence Of The Lambs we first see Hannibal Lector. Here is the monster that will drive the rest of the Silence Of The Lambs and he is standing in a slimly furnished glass cell, arms at his side staring out into the hallway. The scene sets up the arrogance of Lector, in control even in a maximum security prison. Demme also seems to favor the judicious use of extreme close ups. In one confrontation between Starling and Lecture there is a contrast between their clear, blue eyes. Lector’s reveals the plotting going on in his mind, the schemes whose chance has not yet come. For Starling Demme shows almost the same framing but here the humanity of Clarice shows through. It is contrasts like this that keep Silence Of The Lambs visually so interesting.

A movie of this magnitude deserves nothing less than the best produced DVD possible, unfortunately, MGM/UA did not deliver. The anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer is out right dirty. There are specs and dots throughout Silence Of The Lambs. It appears that this disc was made from a less than perfect print. The colors were also not as vibrant as the VHS copy I own and compared this disc to. The colors often appear a bit faded or muted. The sound just didn’t cut it. There is one little sound effect I have always enjoyed on the tape, while Clarice is running at the beginning of the film there is a cricket that on the prologic tape sounded like it came from the rear of the room. On the 5.1 DVD the cricket sound is much lower in volume and up front. The sound field in this Silence Of The Lambs disc is mostly in the front with very little sent to the rear speakers. The commentary track provided in the laser disc is also absent. There are a number of interesting extras. A making of documentary, cast interviews, 20 minutes of deleted scenes and an out take reel. Silence Of The Lambs is a fantastic film that deserves a much better transfer.

Movie Review of Silence Of The Lambs by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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