The meaning of the film “The Silence of the Lambs”
A huge number of reviews and reviews have been written about the film “The Silence of the Lambs”, which are very ambiguous. I would not advise sensitive natures to watch this picture. But for people seeking to get a thrill, to think about the deep nature of relationships between representatives of absolutely opposite strata of society, this film will bring a lot of experiences and emotions.
Filming finished in 1990. Orion Pictures has delayed the screening of the film in order not to compete with its other film, Dancing With Wolves. Therefore, “The Silence of the Lambs” was released only in January 1991.
I watched the film after reading the bestseller by Thomas Haris “The Silence of the Lambs”. My opinion used to be that a book is always better than a movie. I was convinced of this more than once. But not this time. To say that the motion picture shook to the core is to say nothing.
Preamble to the film
Haris wrote the book The Silence of the Lambs in a surprisingly short time. He was overwhelmed by the high-profile case of the maniac killer Eddie Gein, who killed dozens of people over the course of several years. From a harmless and friendly person, he turned into a monster, digging fresh graves, skinning the dead. The freak sewed suitcases and furniture covers out of this leather. After the verdict, he was hid in an insane asylum, where he read a lot, but frightened the medical staff with long, unblinking looks.
The author of the book has a collective image of Buffalo Bill. In addition to Eddie Gein, he combined the personalities of three more maniacs:
– Ted Bundy, who lured women into his networks just like Buffalo Bill;
– Gehry M. Heidnik, who hid the victims in a deep hole;
– Edmund Kemper, whose grandparents were his first victims, just like Buffalo Bill.
Plot and directorial decisions
The Silence of the Lambs is not a classic horror movie, as many say. This is a powerful psychological thriller. The power of influence on the audience cannot be compared with any other film creation. The incredible brutality and realism of the showing of some scenes, however, put it in the category of “horror”. Not a single person in front of the screen remains calm, clutching at the armrests in fear.
The plot revolves around Clarissa Starling, a graduate of the FBI school, and a genius cannibal maniac, sadist with the inclinations of a music lover and artist, Hannibal Lector. By the will of fate, she has to turn to him for help in search of “keys” to catch another maniac Buffalo Bill.
Former practicing psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecturer experiences an almost sexual pleasure in conversations with the young heroine Jodie Foster. Blackmail forced him to tell about his difficult life in exchange for some information about Buffalo Bill, he listens with pleasure to the story of the death of the heroine’s father.
Particular tension comes from the screen when the story of how young Clarissa tried to save at least one lamb, doomed to slaughter on her uncle’s farm, and how she did not succeed. Since then, at night she has been tormented by nightmares with the screams of little lambs, which she cannot help. He realizes from the fly and tells her that as soon as the maniac is caught, “the lambs will be silent.”
Enjoying the emotional experiences of Clarissa, an insane psychiatrist, willingly or unwillingly, helps her to catch another sadistic maniac. This assistance is much more effective than the assistance of the surrounding male police officers. After analyzing the motives with which the FBI agent Clarissa Starling acts, he refuses to pursue her, even breaking out of prison.
Watching the duet (Lector-Starling), you unexpectedly catch yourself thinking that a mad genius is acting as a father-teacher, no matter how wild this assumption may seem. And the “daughter”, although she is terrified, nevertheless listens to every word, trying to understand the intricacies of hints and riddles emanating from the terrible mentor.
The third most important character in the thriller is Buffalo Bill, a maniac who kidnaps girls. He locks them in a pit and starves them. When the skin on women sags, it kills, cuts out layers of skin. After that, he sews clothes from this “material”. Buffalo Bill is a person lost between a man and a woman. Born a boy, he dreams of becoming a woman all his life. A terrible episode, when a pathologist takes out a larva of the insect “Dead’s Head” from the victim’s throat, tells about the maniac’s dream of rebirth.
The main director’s find was opposition, action on contrasts. The film shows a dangerous, strong killer and a weak investigator. The sadist sits in a cage behind armored glass, wearing a creepy mask, seemingly giving no hope of escaping. The straitjacket and chains almost completely shield the world from a terrible psychopath. But the more such paraphernalia, the more defenseless and vulnerable the surrounding life seems.
Oddly enough, but the plot in this film is not the main thing. It even seems far-fetched, far-fetched and unreal, which only emphasizes the intricacies of relationships between the characters, the psychological problems of society.
The cast, hand-picked by director Jonathan Demme for the film, turned out to be exactly the kind of tandem that Thomas Haris’ book demanded. Anthony Hopkins brilliantly played a controversial character – a brilliant psychiatrist with an excellent education, versed in music and painting, a terrible sadist and psychopath. How Demmy saw in the “good-natured” Hopkins a man capable of embodying a maniac-cannibal in the frame is anyone’s guess.
Even before the filming began, the actor was present at the court hearings of the killer maniacs, even communicated with some of them when visiting prisons. His character on the screen was given only 16 minutes. But during the entire viewing, his invisible presence is felt, the constant tension does not let the viewer go. The prototype of Hannibal Lector was the serial killer Albert Fish. This creature killed and cooked several kids for lunch. What the murderer wrote to his grief-stricken parents. His dossier was scrutinized by Anthony Hopkins.
He is the main star of the film. It is his work, collected from observations of psychopaths, that keeps the viewer in suspense throughout the viewing. On the set in the early days, the team was horrified by the freezing, unblinking gaze of the actor. For a short time in the frame, he received the love of the viewer and the Oscar for Best Actor.
Ted Tully, as the scriptwriter, dreamed that the role of Starling would go to Jodie Foster. However, Damme decided to invite Michelle Pfeiffer for this role. After reading the script, Michelle categorically refused to play in the film, considering it excessively cruel and bloody.
And Jodie Foster did not count on such enchanting luck. The roles went to long-legged beauties. And she, with her tender fragility, remained behind the scenes. Brilliantly playing a novice FBI agent with a deep wound in her soul, she gained a viewer, fame, showed the directors her acting talent.
She and the performer of the role of Buffalo Bill were offered to listen to the recordings of the confessions of the maniacs. Jodie Foster flatly refused, and Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill) after these “outpourings” suffered from nightmares for a long time. It’s a little known fact that Jody and Ted were very close during filming.
The Silence of the Lambs cannot be attributed to one genre. It is a psychological thriller, drama and horror. There is also an exciting plot about serial killers, maniacs and psychopaths. In the film, images are talentedly created, forever included in the constellation of horror culture standards. No wonder he has five Oscars on his account.