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The Silence Of The Lambs
The Criterion Collection

review by Zach B.

Rated R

Studio: Criterion

Running Time: 118 minutes

Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine

Screenplay by Ted Tally
Based on the book by Thomas Harris

Directed by Jonathan Demme

Retail Price: $39.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Jonathon Demme, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Screenwrtier Ted Tally and FBI Agent John Douglas, Deleted Scenes, Storyboards, Film-To-Storyboard Comparison, FBI Crime Classification Manual, Voices Of Death

Specs: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen, English Stereo, Chapter Search (28 Chapters)

Insert Your Favorite Hannibal Quote Here


There is so much to "The Silence Of The Lambs", I have no clue where to begin. But I suppose I'll start with the basics. This movie is a big fan favorite, but upon the original release it garnered critical acclaim and big box office. The movie ended up winning five Academy Awards®, those five being "the big five" as people have called it. It won for direction, Best Actress for Jodie Foster, Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins, Best Screenplay Adaption and of course, Best Picture. But beyond all that, it's a movie that has fitted its way into pop culture and is instantly recognizable. It's a rare kind of piece where all the right notes come together to make a beautiful song. Let's take a look inside this film, shall we?

For those unfamiliar with the film, "The Silence Of The Lambs" is the film adapation of Thomas Harris' novel of the same name. The story follows Clarice Starling, an agent sent by the FBI to investigate a serial killer known as Buffalo Bill, who's trademark is keeping pieces of the skin from the women he kills. She is first sent to Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, a mad former psychaitrist who is locked up who does hold clues to the case. Starling is warned to be careful of him, but as the film goes on, he manipulates her to get what he wants while Starling tries to pinpoint the information Hannibal halls. The two make an unlikely match but this make for an intriguing, disturbing and incredible fascinating thriller complete with character studies that boggle the mind. There's a lot of great FBI stuff in this movie as well as an interesting portrait of serial killers and their psyche.

A reason "The Silence Of The Lambs" works so well is because of the actors. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, who I mentioned both won statues from the Academy for their work here, have such great chemistry. Foster is perfect and raw as the vulnerable Starling, but her delivery and character is strong. She makes her really believable. Still, Anthony Hopkins takes the cake as Hannibal Lecter creating one of the most memorable characters to grace the screen. While it's true Brian Cox originated the characters five years earlier in "Manhunter", when people think of Hannibal, they think Hopkins. It's obvious that some of Cox's performance is in Hopkin's performance, there is that sort of influence and you experience it. Hopkins is chilling and amazing as Lecter, his performance will thrill your spine. He's creepy, he's brilliant and he's disturbing. Truly a great performance, everything out of his mouth amazes me. The way he does it... there is so much passion and so much creepy energy in him. This is one of my favorite performances of all time in film, actually. Words can't describe what Hopkins brings to this movie... you just have to watch it and then you'll understand. The chemistry between the two is also vital to this movie. They play off one another really well. The supporting and much smaller performances are great. As far as I'm concerned, the acting in this movie is perfect and gets everything across nicely. My only complaint is that there could have been more Hopkins, and it has been argued his role was more supporting. But hey, as I've mentioned before, the Academy is crazy.

Jonathan Demme directed this movie and won an Oscar® for his work, and he really creates something magnicificent. The way he moves the camera and sets the story up is great. He tells it in a lean way without being flashy, and lets the viewers use their instincts and feelings to search through the script and meaning of the film then showing us. Sometimes he doesn't show things visually, but through the words of the characters we can clearly see the powerful images. This is quite an accomplishment if you ask me. He really tells this story with much power, quite thrilling moments and develops things well. An Oscar® well deserved.

The editing in this movie is fantastic, and while nominated for an Academy Award®, it did not win it. This is one of the best edited movies I've ever seen, so to me that loss is a bit disappointing. The way shots are conveyed and set up are magnicificent. It adds to more of an eerie feel to everything, it's layered really nicely. Howard Shore's score is memorable, and really adds a lot to key scenes. I felt he was robbed of an Oscar® nod. Ted Tally also cooks up a terrific adaption of the book by Thomas Harris, complete with great dialogue and a nice structure to everything. He taps right into the book and jusices out a ton of it. A job well done there.

"The Silence Of The Lambs" is a true film classic and after all these years, I still find it bold and refreshing. It really holds the test of time. Whenever I see it, I always enjoy it and I find something new and exciting within the context. The acting is great, the direction is solid and the adaption from Ted Tally is pretty amazing. This is a one-of-a-kind film, where everything just comes together so perfectly. This movie is really memorable and will entertain audiences for years to come. If you haven't seen it, take out the fava beans and chianti and enjoy.

Criterion has provided a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic transfer to "The Silence Of The Lambs" and it is pretty good. The image is a bit soft at times, but it can be quite sharp at times. Blemishes and dirt pop up throughout the movie, but colors and fleshtones are really well saturated. There is some grain in the image too. Black are solid and detail is generally good. Overall, it looks good for what it is and you won't be too disappointed.

"The Silence Of The Lambs" has a English stereo track that is decent, at best. Dialogue is clear and not really muffled, while other sounds are pretty good and are crisp. Nothing really overlaps. There is really nothing much to say about this track, it's just a little bit above average. There are no closed captions or subtitles.

Criterion has delivered a terrific set of supplements, mostly from the 1994 laserdisc edition. An Audio Commentary with Director Jonathon Demme, Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Screenwrtier Ted Tally and FBI Agent John Douglas is included, and while editied, it's one incredible track. Everyone is introduced as they talk and there is a really nice flow to this commentary. Comments are really insightful and have a lot of good stories in them, plus a good amount of background on characters, the movie and a whole lot of stuff. There's a lot to gain here, and is one of the best commentaries I've heard on DVD. There are no real gaps of silence, and fans of the film must listen to this. There is a ton of amazing things to gain out of this track. The commentary is also chapter encoded.

There are Seven Deleted Scenes that are in non-anamorphic widescreen and a bit rough. Each scene has a little written statement when you highlight them saying where they should go and what they involve. They don't really add a lot to the film, but they are still cool to check out.

The Storyboards section has storyboards of the following scenes to browse through: "Split Ciy storage units", "Buffalo Bill's basement", "The autopsy", "Searching for Dr. Lecter", "Snapshot from hell", "Clarice finds her man" and conceptual drawings for "Snapshot from hell". There's also a nifty Film-To-Storyboard Comparison to enjoy.

Two supplements that add more background to the movie: a FBI Crime Classification Manual that provides a lot of in-depth things about handling crimes in an FBI manner. This is written out and a good read. There's also Voices Of Death where serial killers, as chronicled in Michael Newton's book, alk about murder, sex, life and death. Fascinating and another good read.

Sadly, this disc is now out of print since there is an MGM version coming out in the near future. It's sure to be a collector's item on DVD. While the presentation is not perfect, the supplements are really in-depth and compliment to the film well. Good luck getting it, and if you do or have it, enjoy!

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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