Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs


Director: Jonathan Demme

Writer: Thomas Harris and Ted Tally


This entire movie is great. Every scene Dr. Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) is magical, though he has less than 20 minutes of screen time. Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is a character of determination, yet chilling attributes. She’s a hero in all sense of the word.

There are reasons why films win best actor, actress, director, writer, and picture. It’s called an Oscar Grand Slam. There are three films in history that have done it. In 1934, “It Happened in One Night.” In 1975, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” And in 1991, “The Silence of the Lambs.” The reasons are keeping a simply story using complex characters and the best material (actors, settings, writers, crew, etc.)

Wish all films could do that.

The difficulty in this entry, choosing the best scene, is that Lector’s personality is so attractive and awe-inspiring. He cuts to the bone, choosing each word carefully, and creating fear even through a wall of glass.

When Lector touches Clarice’s hand, giving her back the case file, you understand the amount of respect and admiration Lector has for the young agent. When Lector gives her a call at the end, citing, “I’m having an old friend for dinner…” Clarice has it right when she admits Lector wouldn’t come after her because he would consider it rude.

And the psychology of Clarice – the haunting memory from her childhood, the memory that gives the film it’s title – Lector pulls that memory from her subconscious, explaining why her need to help others is so important because she tried to save the lambs, but the lambs kept screaming.

It’s beautiful.

But, the scene above has another psychology element. Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) wants to be a woman. He was rejected by the sex change operation hospital, casted away by society, and has no love lost for humanity. He is able to torture, kill, and remove skin with no regard to human life.

That’s what makes him interesting.

He kidnaps women, starves them for three days, kills them, cuts the “pieces” he needs, and dumps their body. The “pieces” are making Buffalo Bill a woman suit, made from real women (pun).

In the scene above, he dances in his woman suit and tucks his manhood between his legs, giving a sense that he’s almost completed the transformation.

Transformation is the key. He wants to transform into a woman. It’s the reason why he has the transforming moths in his house. It’s the reason why he kills these women. He wants to be something different, become someone else, and then be accepted by society.

Too bad he’s crazy.

But, this entire movie is about rejection and acceptance. Clarice is a woman in a man’s world, thus rejected. After her father was killed, she ran away after the lamb incident, thus rejected. Yet, she gains acceptance from her mentor and the FBI in the Buffalo Bill case.

Lector is rejected also, in the opposite. He’s a monster, though he was wildly accepted in his former life. He was a doctor. He was an intellectual. He was well liked and appreciated. And then he ate some people and was rejected.

Oh, the humanity.

In the end, any scene from this film could be talked about. The film is magnificent, which is why it wins the Oscar Gran Slam. But, I felt that any scene couldn’t compare, especially when you put on Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus, to Ted Levine dancing around the room dressed as a woman.

Even Kevin Smith agrees.

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