The Silence of the Lambs movie cast: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster, Ted Levine
The Silence of the Lambs movie director: Jonathan Demme
The Silence of the Lambs movie rating: 4 stars
If a film manages to snag away the Oscar in five categories of Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, then it must have done something right, right? And the 1991 Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster starrer did exactly that, in an era when getting the coveted golden trophy meant something to people.
Adapted from Thomas Harris’s 1988 novel of the same name, The Silence of the Lambs combines the best of everything to deliver gold. Apparently, for his role as the positively frightening Dr Hannibal Lecter, Hopkins channeled author Truman Capote, Hollywood star Katharine Hepburn and HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In the first scene that Agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) meets the former psychiatrist, serial-killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter (a truly scary Anthony Hopkins), there is some tension. It is of the quiet, restrained kind and we don’t yet fully know how monstrous Lecter can become at will. But his request of Clarice to come “closer” to the glass separating them both is ominous enough.
What is unique about the movie is that the gore, the horrendous crimes are only hinted at, never shown. So it is a testament to the actors’ performance and filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who manage to make the audience cringe with only clues of the grotesque. The best part about the movie is of course the interactions between FBI Agent Starling and the psychopath Lecter. They measure each other, and Hopkins, in those moments, even manages to somehow make Lecter human, which is quite an achievement.
Shout out to Ted Levine, who played the petrifying Buffalo Bill to perfection. A scene comes to mind, wherein he asks his victim to put lotion on her skin. Interestingly, Buffalo Bill would never refer to the gender of his victims, but only address them by the pronoun ‘It’, thereby stripping them and himself of any humaneness. Ted in the aforementioned scene makes the woman cry by quietly threatening her to apply lotion onto herself and also joins her later by sobbing silently. Truly menacing.
And how do we know that the film has remained fresh in people’s memories after all these years? Well, once, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Anthony had said, “I saw Silence of the Lambs in Atlantic City years ago, and with an audience, but nobody knew I was there. I was doing a film and someone said, ‘Would you come to the theater with me?’ So I went and I hid in the back. Then, the lights went out; there was a big storm. And someone in front of me said, ‘It’s a blackout, I think Hannibal Lecter’s at the theater!’ She turned around and said, ‘Oh my God he is!’”