Monday, April 9, 2012
Movie Review: The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
A journey into the darkest recesses of grotesque human behaviour, The Silence Of The Lambs is a devastating psychological terror ride. Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling are two unforgettable and uniquely compelling characters, brought to life by defining performances from Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.
The Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane is supervised by the sleazy Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald), who immediately makes an uninvited and covetous advance on Starling. It does not take long for Lecter, who equally despises Chilton, to analyze Starling to her core, and from a position of total psychological dominance he decides to help her by gradually providing clues that may lead to Buffalo Bill's identity. As Starling starts to close in on the serial killer, Lecter plots his next bloody escapade.
At best, characters like Jack Crawford are neutral, and even his motives and judgement in throwing a trainee into Lecter's cage have to be suspect. Otherwise, Dr. Chilton, Dr. Lecter and Buffalo Bill just represent ever increasing levels of deeply damaged humanity, and the other prisoners in Lecter's dungeon, given the chance, would keep pushing the scale south.
That Anthony Hopkins humanizes Lecter is astonishing, his performance bone chilling in its portrayal of a ravenous monster with the dangerous facade of a smiling human. The combination of extreme intelligence, searing insight into the psyche of any foe, and utmost disregard for societal norms is the visible layer of Lecter's hideous tendencies to eat his way through victims. Director Jonathan Demme frequently fills the screen with Hopkins squarely addressing the camera, forcing viewers to share Starling's nightmare as it comes to life.
Tak Fujimoto's cinematography matches the subject matter, with The Silence Of The Lamb bathed in grim dark yellows and browns, and shot with limited light to emphasize the absence of optimism in the corners of humanity occupied by the likes of Lecter. The music score by Howard Shore is a classic of richly understated mounting horror.
The Silence Of The Lamb stares into the face of the beast that man is capable of becoming. In it's manipulative connivance, the vision is even more terrifying than the concept.
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