Film Review 2: The Silence of the Lambs

Background

‘The silence of the Lambs’ is an American horror-thriller film directed by Johnathan Demme in 1991. It is based on the 1988 novel ‘The silence of the Lambs’ by Thomas Harris.

‘The silence of the Lambs’ was released on February 14 (<my birthday, just saying), 1991, and grossed $272.7 million worldwide, completely overriding its $19 million budget. It was only the third film  to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Adapted Screenplay. It is also the first (and so far only) Best Picture winner widely considered to be a horror film.

The film is considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the Nation Film Registry in 2011. A sequel titled ‘Hannibal’ was released in 2001 with Hopkins reprising his role, followed by two prequels: ‘Red Dragon’ (2002) and ‘Hannibal Rising’ (2007).

Information courtesy of Wikipedia page on ‘The silence of the Lambs’: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Silence_of_the_Lambs_(film)

 

The Trailer

 

Summary

Young FBI agent Clarice Starling is assigned to help find a missing woman to save her from a psychopathic serial killer who skins his victims. Clarice attempts to gain a better insight into the twisted mind of the killer by talking to another psychopath: Hannibal Lecter, who used to be a respected psychiatrist. FBI agent Jack Crawford believes that Lecter, who is also a very powerful and clever mind manipulator, has the answers to their questions and can help locate the killer. However, Clarice must first gain Lecter’s confidence before the inmate will give away any information.

Written by Sami Al-Taher <staher2000@yahoo.com>

 

Narrative Structure 

The narrative structure for this film is a open structure. It follows the traditional beginning, middle and end structure however when the film reaches the ending, the audience is left wondering what Hannibal is going to do next. This narrative structure can be used to leave the film open to the possibility of a sequel, which this did.

 

My Opinion

Personally I thought that this was a good film. This was due to the incredibly dark yet enticing story line, the magnificent camera work and the outstanding verisimilitude gave this film moments when I forgot what was going on around me and felt as if a psychotic serial killer was staring straight through me.

 

Director and Actors

Director

Johnathan Demme is an American filmmaker, producer and screenwriter. Demme became known in the 1980’s with his comedy films ‘Melvin and Howard’ (1980), ‘Swing Shift’ (1984), ‘Something Wild'(1986) and ‘Married to the Mob'(1988). Demme really exploded as a director however after the release of ‘The silence of the Lambs’ (1991), and was recognised for this by winning the Academy Award for Best Director.

Actors

The character of Clarice was played by Jodie Foster, which gave this film and iconic actor and would have attracted more people to come and watch this film. Jodi Foster was awarded her second Academy Award for her outstanding acting in this film. Still to this day this film remains one of the best thriller films, and controversially one of the best films ever made, and one of the variables people talk about is how good Jodie Foster was at acting in this film, making her largely responsible for the success of this film.

 

Genre

This film is clearly a thriller film, and more extensively the sub genre horror-thriller.

The audience sees that this film follows the conventions of a thriller film, as it has low-key lighting, quick cuts, shadows, tense music and variance in camera angles to show dominance and weakness.

In terms of characters, this film breaks the stereotypical brave and strong male protagonist, instead ‘The silence of the Lambs’ presents the audience with a female protagonist. The protagonist in ‘The silence of the Lambs’ is however still very brave. Also, like most antagonists,  Buffalo Bill is after revenge for what he was put through as a child.

The common theme of ‘feeling like it could happen to you’ is apparent in this film as the killer goes after normal girls, which would make viewers scared as women may think this could happen to them and for men that this could happen to their family or friends.

The cinematography in this film is common amongst other thrillers as it uses low-key lighting and quick shots to build suspense.

 

A little on the camera work…

After watching the film ‘The silence of the Lambs’ I watched an analysis video on YouTube about the film, and it brought up an interesting fact about the camera work. when conversations happen between Clarice and other characters, the characters look directly into the camera, whereas when Clarice speaks, her eye-line is ever so slightly past the camera. This was done as the story is predominantly told through the eyes of Clarice Starling, so if all the other characters apart for the protagonist look into the camera, it makes the audience feel like these characters are addressing them like how they are addressing the protagonist, putting the audience on the side of the protagonist. This very subtle yet very complex labour of the camera is one of the components that make this film exceptional.

Here is the video I watched that went over this technique and more:

 

 

 

 

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