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Click above to purchase "The Silence Of The Lambs Special Edition (widescreen)" at amazon.com

 

The Silence Of The Lambs
Special Edition
(Widescreen)

review by Zach B.

Rated R

Studio: MGM

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: $24.98

Features: Inside The Labyrinth Documentary, 1991 Making-Of Featurette, Photo Gallery, Deleted Scenes, Outtakes Reel, Anthony Hopkins Phone Message, Hannibal DVD Trailer, TV Spots, Theatrical Trailer, Collectible Booklet

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French Stereo Surround, Spanish Mono, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search (28 Chapters)

Released: August 21st, 2001

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.

This new special edition of "The Silence Of The Lambs" is available in two seperate versions. Depending on your preference, it's in pan and scan (boo!) and widescreen (yay!). The anamorphic widescreen version looks lovely, and is in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1, but seems a little more like 1.78:1. It's the best shape I've ever seen the film in while capturing its pure essence. Colors are gritty, moody and dark and are well saturated. Blemishes pop up here and there but are never distracting. I did notice some edge enhancment that wasn't too much of a big deal, but sometimes I found the overall image really grainy. The layer switch is noticeable but the image can be a bit soft sometimes, while other times quite sharp. Still, this a great transfer that holds up well considering the age of the film.

I was quite excited to hear that this new DVD edition of "The Silence Of The Lambs" would also include a 5.1 Dolby Digital remix. This new mix is not earth-shattering by any means, but suits the film well. Dialogue is clear and crisp and never muffled or overpowered by other sounds. Surrounds are never too aggressive, but there is some good stuff in the form gunshots and the more action filled scenes. Little sounds like footsteps or slight movements are subtle. Howard Shore's score sounds really nice, but I think I expected more of a punch. Don't get me wrong, this is a very good mix, but I was just hoping for stronger and more fuller surrounds. You won't be disappointed probably. A Spanish mono track and a French Stereo Surround track is included. English closed captions are on the disc, plus French, Spanish and YES, English subtitles. Finally, English subtitles for this movie. A bit shocking too, since MGM usually doesn't include English subtitles on their discs.

We know how Criterion is, they like to keep their supplements to themselves usually (unless someone else owns them) and are never really willing to share for other editions. I am a proud owner of the Criterion "Silence" disc, and while it has a lot of great stuff that is not on this new edition, MGM has put together some cool new supplements fans of the movie will enjoy.

I guess the big draw to this special edition is the new documentary Inside The Labyrinth. It lasts just about an hour, and it ranks as one of the best documentaries on DVD I've ever seen. This documentary focuses on all sorts of things in a great manner, it divides things up evenly and there's a ton of information you can absorb. It covers the book, getting it to screen, the horror genre, the story and all sorts of things about the movie. It features stills and clips from the movie, but of course, the interviews are what makes this great. They offer a load of great stories that I loved, and after watching this, I got a ton out of the making of the film... some stuff not covered before in the Criterion commentary track. Great insight, references and thoughts from everybody, this is a well made documentary that is not promotional and really does focus on the film, what it means and the making of it all. Interviews are with Ted Tally, Anthony Hopkins, former Orion exec Mike Medavoy, producer Ron Bozman, Brooke Smith and loads, and I mean loads more. Do not miss this documentary whatever you, fans of the film are going to love this. A great way to spend an hour, it was very fulfilling.

The Original 1991 Making-Of Featurette is also included, and lasts about ten minutes. It's presented in full frame and features clips from the movie, behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Jonathon Demme, Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, among others. It's sort of promo but not exactly, as they talk about the movie, serial killers and give some informative stuff. Not bad at all.

There is a Photo Gallery that features a good amount of stills. "Jodie Foster/Clarice Starling" has 20, "Anthony Hopkins/Hannibal Lecter" has 15, "Johnathon Demme" has 17, "Buffalo Bill/Catherine Martin" has 16, "Portraits" has 5, "FBI" has 7, "Special Effects" has 18 while "Behind The Scenes" has 20 stills. Some nice things to look at here.

The Deleted Scenes sections has two pages worth of deleted scenes in non-anamorphic widescreen. The image quality varies, and as far as I know, just about all the Criterion scenes are here. To my surprise, this DVD features a lot of new ones not found on the Criterion version which did make me happy. You can view them seperate or play them all together. This is a great inclusion and worthwhile to watch, so fans of the movies will want to check these out.

On the second page, an Outtakes Reel is included which does draw some amusing laughs but is rather short (they are in non-anamorphic widescreen too), Eight TV Spots, a Hannibal DVD Trailer, the original Theatrical Trailer in full frame and two channel sound and last but not least, a great Anthony Hopkins Phone Message for your enjoyment and that you could probably use. Also, there are some fantastic menus that fit perfectly with the film, and inside there is a Collectible Booklet.

I am personally thrilled to finally have this fantastic movie in anamorphic widescreen complete with a worthy 5.1 remix and English subtitles. While it lacks a good deal of the terrific Criterion supplements, MGM has put together their own package which is great. Even if you own the Criterion edition, "Silence" fans should not miss this.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(3.5/5)

(3/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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