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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:48 pm 

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The Silence of the Lambs

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In this chilling adaptation of the best-selling novel by Thomas Harris, the astonishingly versatile director Jonathan Demme crafted a taut psychological thriller about an American obsession: serial murder. As Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee who enlists the help of the infamous Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter to gain insight into the mind of another killer, Jodie Foster subverts classic gender dynamics and gives one of the most memorable performances of her career. As her foil, Anthony Hopkins is the archetypical antihero—cultured, quick-witted, and savagely murderous—delivering a harrowing portrait of humanity gone terribly wrong. A gripping police procedural and a disquieting immersion into a twisted psyche, The Silence of the Lambs swept the Academy Awards (best picture, best director, best screenplay, best actress, best actor) and remains a cultural touchstone.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 4K digital restoration, approved by director of photography Tak Fujimoto, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Alternate 5.1 surround soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-ray
• Audio commentary from 1994 featuring director Jonathan Demme, actors Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and former FBI agent John Douglas
• New interview with critic Maitland McDonagh
• Thirty-five minutes of deleted scenes
• Interview from 2005 with Demme and Foster
Inside the Labyrinth, a 2001 documentary
Page to Screen, a 2002 program about the adaptation
Scoring "The Silence," a 2004 interview program featuring composer Howard Shore
Understanding the Madness, a 2008 program featuring interviews with retired FBI special agents
• Original behind-the-scenes featurette
• Trailer
• PLUS: An essay by critic Amy Taubin along with, in the Blu-ray edition, a new introduction by Foster; an account of the origins of the character Hannibal Lecter by author Thomas Harris; and a 1991 interview with Demme

Criterionforum.org user rating averages



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 9:46 pm 
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A great film. The last movie that swept the main Oscar categories that truly deserved it.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:25 pm 
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Quote:
A great film. The last movie that swept the main Oscar categories that truly deserved it.

Actually, Million Dollar Baby was. :D But on the topic of Silence of the Lambs, easily Demme's best work, and I don't even need to point out how remarkable Anthony Hopkins is. Even more remarkable is Foster, who carries the film when Hannibal isn't on screen.

And I know MDB didn't sweep ALL the major categories, but the awards it did receive were well deserved.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 10:04 am 
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bcsparker wrote:
A great film. The last movie that swept the main Oscar categories that truly deserved it.

I dunno. This film seems so overrated now. I find Hopkins' performance way over-the-top and obvious. Especially compared to Brian Cox's fine, understated take on Lector in Manhunter. And if I have to see a clip of the "Fava beans" line again I'm going to go postal!

I do think Jodie Foster was great in the movie and deserved the Oscar but the rest of the film seemed so pedestrian in comparison -- specifically the Buffalo Bill who was reduced to a bad guy stereotype with little insight into his motivations unlike the Dollarhyde character in Manhunter who was much more fleshed out.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 10:15 am 
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I saw it recently and found it a true masterpiece, My take is that it hasn't lost it's merits...

Now, I've heard a lot and friends from the net had recommended me: Manhunter... I haven't seen it and most probably never will unless I buy it...


Axel.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 2:10 pm 
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swingo wrote:
Now, I've heard a lot and friends from the net had recommended me: Manhunter... I haven't seen it and most probably never will unless I buy it...

Check it out, ASAP. Aside from the cliche ending, I find it much more superior to Silence in many ways.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 4:02 pm 
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I don't think Hopkins is over-the-top, but I did NOT like him at all in "Red Dragon." I felt like everything that could've gone wrong with "Silence of the Lambs" (the movie) went wrong in "Red Dragon," especially with Hopkins' performance which went from creepy to cartoonish.

Having said that, I really like both "Silence of the Lambs" and "Manhunter," but I could see a strong case made for "Manhunter," too. Some of it, like the music, has dated poorly (not really fair to say, but I'm just less kind to 80's fashions), but that's mostly things in the background. I just love how Cox handles the phone call. I saw "Red Dragon" first and that scene barely registered on the radar, probably because it was done so poorly. In "Manhunter," they pretty much stay with Cox the whole time, a better choice. "Manhunter" and "Silence of the Lambs"...I can't really choose between the two. They're just very different and very good interpretations of similar material.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 5:13 pm 
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hearthesilence wrote:
I don't think Hopkins is over-the-top, but I did NOT like him at all in "Red Dragon." I felt like everything that could've gone wrong with "Silence of the Lambs" (the movie) went wrong in "Red Dragon," especially with Hopkins' performance which went from creepy to cartoonish.

I would certainly agree with you on Red Dragon. What a train wreck of a movie. Of course, that's what you get for putting it in the hands of a hack like Brett Ratner. And Edward Norton was just totally miscast... which is odd because he can do intensity and intelligence but with his bleach blond, surfer dude haircut he was just all wrong.

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I just love how Cox handles the phone call. I saw "Red Dragon" first and that scene barely registered on the radar, probably because it was done so poorly. In "Manhunter," they pretty much stay with Cox the whole time, a better choice.

Not to mention the excellent battle of wills between Graham and Lector in his cell in Manhunter. The tension in that scene is almost palpable. Amazing stuff. What I like about Cox's performance is his almost cheery nature and being utterly polite but with the menace seething underneath.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 8:20 pm 
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Manhunter IS awesome! I preferred the ending to the Red Dragon ending.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 7:31 am 
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Here is the Silence of the Lambs related section of the '101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men - and more!' thread in the lists section:

zombeaner wrote:
Theodore R. Stockton wrote:
Similar topic IFC had the queer cinema documentary, there were one or two people that bashed Silence of the Lambs for being anti-gay. I don't see it with Lector and Migs being straight how does the film insult gays?

Hannibal Lecter wasn't straight, if anything he was sort of asexual/omnisexual. He does seduce Mason Verger in Hannibal.

Andre Jurieu wrote:
The criticism of the film at the time of its initial release was that Jame 'Buffalo Bill' Gumb (the film's serial killer antagonist) was an insulting characterization of a gay man, or at least an offensive portrait of a transsexual. Many political groups in the US and UK gay community believed that the film essentially portrayed all gay men as being deviant and psychologically disturbed because of Buffalo Bill's homosexuality... and, you know, the fact that he was all skinning young women alive for his own perverse fantasy.

It seems to be another case of political groups claiming that having only one representation of a demographic within a movie implies that the film and filmmakers believe all members of that demographic to share the exact same traits as the character they have created. Whether that method of evaluation is correct is probably a personal choice for the viewer, but I know I often get frustrated when movies display offensive stereotypes of ethnic minorities, though I don't know if that gives me the right to claim the filmmakers are all racist. "No, just ignorant!"

Matt wrote:
Having been an active member of Queer Nation (oh, the shame) at the time of the Silence of the Lambs protests (as well as the even more ridiculous Basic Instinct protests), I clearly remember that the protests were organized well before anyone had actually seen the movie. It was enough for most people just to know that a film portrayed of a person of non-heterosexual orientation who was also a murderer. It was all about "positive representation" back in those days.

It just goes to prove that there are reactionary jerks on all sides of the political field.

zedz wrote:
I'd assumed that the main structural function of Buffalo Bill's sexuality in the film was to have a villain who did not pose a sexual threat to the heroine. The non-sexualisation of Foster in this context (she's just a person doing her job, not a potential victim) seemed to be very much a part of the film's agenda. (Just as I assume that the real agenda of Philadelphia was more about having an audience-surrogate who was black).

I also vaguely recall that the film includes (clunky) expository dialogue explaining that Buffalo Bill is not gay, and that the outcry over his representation at the time was predicated on the 'fact' that many people in the audience would read him as gay regardless of how he was presented. And that they would then generalise that all gay men behaved in a similar way.

Andre Jurieu wrote:
I'm pretty sure Bill was gay in the film as there was a reference made to a man that was his former lover. However, the movie is explicit on the point that, while he seeks to transform into a woman, Bill is not actually an appropriate candidate for gender-reassignment surgery.

While the villain does not pose a direct sexual threat to Clarice (she's also too thin for him to skin), she still remains a potential victim for Bill simply due to circumstance. Hence, Demme's choice to have the audience assume Bill's POV during the film's final moments allows both Bill and the viewer to view Clarice as a "woman in peril," but also allows Clarice to simultaneously extract her revenge upon both voyeurs for assuming such a outdated and obsolete view of women.

davidhare wrote:
Andre how do you KNOW Clarice has too thin a skin to -umm - appropriate?

One of the frirssons of the movie that I enjoy (and not much else) is having a lesbian actor play the foil to the crazy - a point totally missed by Gaylib protesters at the time. Instead Demme buries the dialogue in "Southern white trash", etc. And isn't the NAME of the same killer in Mann's terrific Manhunter "the Tooth Fairy"? (aka "Buffalo Bill".)

Andre Jurieu wrote:
davidhare wrote:
Adnre how do you KNOW Clarice has too thin a skin to -umm - appropriate?

She doesn't have "too thin a skin," she's too thin to skin. As the film makes clear through the dialogue between FBI agents, Buffalo Bill only kidnaps larger women because he requires their proportions to somewhat match his own in order for the suit he's sewn/assembled to fit him correctly. He then starves them in order for their skin to be detached easier (I assume Harris meant that it becomes loose and easier to skin). As Clarice is too slight/small/slender to match Bill's proportions, she is of no material use to him. She only represents the danger of being discovered, identified, and classified (in his mind, incorrectly) before he can transform.

So though he does convey a certain degree of lust towards her in the final moments, when he slaps on the night-vision goggles and ominously stretches his hand towards her as if wanting to grasp or touch her, it feels more like he is envious of her feminine nature and seeks to possess it for himself. However, when Demme fuses Bill's perspective with our own, he places Clarice in the typical "woman in peril" situation, and there is a certain sexual element, or at least voyeuristic glee, to our gaze that mimics so many other horror films, which Bill may or may not share with the audience (probably not considering his sexual orientation). Then Clarice makes us pay dearly for our assumption of her weakness by shooting directly at the camera.

davidhare wrote:
And isn't the NAME of the same killer in Mann's terrific Manhunter "the Tooth Fairy"? (aka "Buffalo Bill".)

Um... I don't know if I understand the question. Manhunter's serial killer is named "The Tooth Fairy" and Lambs' serial killer is named "Buffalo Bill," but they aren't the same person. Doesn't the Tooth Fairy die at the end of Manhunter (that's a tough scene for kids to watch, for multiple reasons)? Are you more concerned about the "fairy" attachment of the name in the context of this discussion? That guy certainly had mother issues, but I don't believe Mann (or Ratner, I guess) ever implied him to be gay.

Mr_sausage wrote:
andrejurieu wrote:
That guy certainly had mother issues, but I don't believe Mann (or Ratner, I guess) ever implied him to be gay.

Not to mention that isn't even his chosen moniker, but one given to him by a sensationalist reporter because of Dollarhyde's predilection for biting his victims. Dollarhyde even expresses his contempt at the name before doing all sorts of nasty things to said journalist.

zedz wrote:
Different killers from different books. And Manhunter is indeed a great film - what a textbook decline that franchise underwent!

davidhare wrote:
Yes it has nothing to do with homophobia expressed by the Manhunter movie but everything to do with the homophobia expressed by the police and the journalists who gave him the moniker. William Petersen is above all that, of course.

And deepest apologies about confusing the two characters I frankly havent watched the Demme since it was released.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 9:57 pm 
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After re-visiting this film again, I found Dave Kehr's original review published in The Chicago Tribune. Kehr, of course, championed Demme in his early years, and like Jonathan Rosenbaum, Carrie Rickey and a few others, didn't like seeing a film like this from someone they compared to Jean Renoir. (Flipping through newspaper articles published in 1991, you'll find detractors like Kehr and Rickey criticizing The Silence of the Lambs and Cape Fear as examples of wrongfully-acclaimed exploitation films made by two highly-regarded filmmakers.)

I haven't been able to find this review in its entirety on the web (at least anywhere that's readily accessible), so I'm posting it here for anyone who's interested. FWIW, I actually like this film, but I've cooled a bit to it over the years. I didn't know Jonathan Demme before this film, and it would be years before I saw any of his earlier movies. (To date, I've only seen Stop Making Sense, Something Wild and Married to the Mob.)

Intimidating `Silence' Director Demme subverts his artistry in a brutal manipulation

It's always puzzling when a good director makes a bad movie, but the case of Jonathan Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs" seems downright baffling.

More than a disappointment, the film is an almost systematic denial of Demme's credentials as an artist and filmmaker.

Demme's deserved reputation as one of America's finest directors rests primarily on the series of warm, eccentric comedies he began with "Handle With Care" in 1977 and developed through "Melvin and Howard," "Something Wild" and 1988's "Married to the Mob."

It's easy to understand why he might want to shake off the cute and cuddly image that has settled on his work (though his films have always contained a beckoning dark side, an edge of violence and despair).

But "The Silence of the Lambs" does more than avoid sweetness and light. It's a gnarled, brutal, highly manipulative film that, at its center, seems morally indefensible.

Based on a novel by Thomas Harris, whose "Red Dragon" was filmed by Michael Mann in 1986 as "Manhunter," the film continues the story of Dr. Hannibal Lector (now rakishly played by Anthony Hopkins), a once-brilliant psychiatrist who, having been arrested and institutionalized for his habit of dining on human flesh, is now the most prized serial killer in captivity.

When Lector's old nemesis, FBI agent and serial-killer specialist Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), encounters a new killer he believes may be linked to Lector, he sends a fresh young female trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) to interview him, knowing that Clarice's innocence will draw out Lector's sadistic, show-off tendencies, and with them a clue to the killer's identity.

The script, by playwright Ted Tally ("Terra Nova"), develops parallels between Crawford's exploitation of his female employee and the new killer's use of his female victims. Nicknamed "Buffalo Bill" for his habit of skinning his prey, the killer (Chicago actor Ted Levine) is apparently in the process of sewing himself a dress made of human skin.

As images of institutional sexism go, this one is (gulp) fairly extreme, and ultimately the political point serves as no more than an alibi, so thoroughly does Demme immerse himself in the details of the killer's project. Long sequences, shot from the killer's point of view, are set in his dungeon-like basement, where he is keeping a young woman prisoner in a cistern in preparation for her ritual execution.

Buffalo Bill, who likes to tie ribbons in his hair and prance naked to acid rock, is indeed a very bad man, but that in itself does not excuse Demme's growing characterization of Lector as a hero: a droll, witty man whose growing friendship with Clarice seems the one positive element in both of their lives.

By the time Lector has exploited the situation sufficiently to put himself in a position to escape (which he does, killing two guards with his teeth), the audience has been placed in the position of rooting him on. He may be a psycho killer, but he's our psycho killer: smart, resourceful and somehow on our side.

Demme's greatest talent is his ability to find exactly the right gestures and details of appearance to quickly and thoroughly characterize even the most minor players in his films, giving his work a sense of human density and vitality possessed by no other filmmaker since the late Jean Renoir.

It is particularly painful to see Demme betraying this talent in "The Silence of the Lambs" in the way he grants personalities to the victims we are supposed to care about (Brooke Smith, as Bill's prisoner, gives a particularly wrenching performance) and withholds them from the victims who are somehow deserving or redundant (the two cops Lector kills). Most troubling is the way Demme caricatures the psychiatrist in charge of Lector's hospital (Anthony Heald) as an officious boob, and then serves him up, almost literally, as the film's punchline.

The movie's moral compass spins wildly out of control, but Demme never relinquishes his technical mastery.

The film is composed of tiny, needling details, both in the nervous, jittery editing by Craig McKay and the slimy textures captured by Tak Fujimoto's cinematography.

"The Silence of the Lambs" is a film that exerts a vice-like grip on the viewer; it's as closed and claustrophobic as Demme's other films have been open and democratic.

The intrusion of violence into "Something Wild," in the form of the gangster boyfriend played by Ray Liotta, was an inevitable consequence of the dangerous freedom discovered by the characters: When the rules break down, all kinds of things can enter the system. In "The Silence of the Lambs," however, violence and cruelty are the system: the way the killer holds his victim is the same way the director holds his audience, through threats and intimidation.

This isn't the Jonathan Demme we know.

[Awarded one star ("poor") on a four-star scale]


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:13 pm 
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Later in the year, Kehr wrote a few follow-up articles for the Tribune, including an essay on serial killers in contemporary Hollywood films (specifically in this film and Cape Fear). I was only able to get a hold of one other article which I've pasted in below:
Dave Kehr wrote:
Demme's urge
Power, not art, animates `Silence of the Lambs'


It's on the second viewing that films usually reveal their undertones-the background emotions that may heighten, offset or even contradict the feelings the director has self-consciously placed up front.

In the case of Jonathan Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs"-which seems, on the first pass, a particularly brutal, inhuman thriller-a second look reveals a layer of sadness and exhaustion, a pervasive, dispiriting sense of resignation.

This sadness of "The Lambs" is, perhaps, a sadness of surrender, the despair of an immensely gifted filmmaker who has (only for the moment, one hopes) decided to abandon the struggle. It's a film that contradicts almost everything Demme has stood for as an artist, in such superbly realized films as "Something Wild," "Melvin and Howard" and "Handle With Care," and yet, in the three weeks it has been in release, it is well on its way to becoming the most commercially successful of Demme's films-his only real hit.

It's sad, too, that the film's success doesn't seem surprising in the least. Give the people what they want-which in this case, apparently, is a cannibalistic serial killer as the hero of a major motion picture-and they'll turn out every time.

For those who haven't yet seen "The Silence of the Lambs" (and it is, for all of its disturbing implications, a film that deserves to be looked at and taken seriously), the plot might be quickly summarized as follows:

Baffled by a series of murders, in which the killer removes the skin of his victims, FBI agent Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) assigns eager young FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) to establish a relationship with captured serial killer Dr. Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who enjoyed devouring the internal organs of his victims. Crawford hopes that Lecter may have some special insights into the killer's personality, which he might share with a beautiful, vulnerable young woman.

As it turns out, somewhat too conveniently, Dr. Lecter not only possesses those insights, but also knows the killer's identity, having treated one of his early victims. Clarice must convince him to give her the name before "Buffalo Bill," as the new killer has been nicknamed, can execute his latest kidnap victim.

Demme, following Ted Tally's screenplay adapted from Thomas Harris' novel, cuts among the on-the-scene investigations of Crawford and Clarice; Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) in his infernal cellar, preparing for his latest kill; and Dr. Lecter's grisly attempts to escape. But the core of the film is the relationship between Clarice and Lecter, as it is played out on opposite sides of glass walls and prison bars.

"The Silence of the Lambs" was described by Village Voice critic Amy Taubin as "deliberately, unabashedly, and uncompromisingly a feminist movie," an interpretation that Demme himself has clung to in his interviews. The film establishes a clear, if somewhat exaggerated, parallel between Clarice's exploitation at the hands of her employer Crawford (who is also portrayed as a father figure and potential lover) and Buffalo Bill's treatment of his victims as objects or animals (he is "harvesting" their skin to make a dress for himself).

Only Clarice's inner strength and feisty independence save her from the predatory impulses of the males who surround her; she is allowed-and this is the greatest anomaly for a Hollywood film of 1991-to survive the film without entering into a romance, without being claimed and redeemed by a man.

But is that really true? Clarice earns Lecter's complicity by striking a strange bargain: For every bit of information Lecter grants her, he will be allowed another question about the most intimate aspects of her emotional history. It's hard to see the feminist thrust of a heroine who allows herself to be raped, mentally if not physically, in exchange for access to the male's superior intelligence and insight.

The perverse dynamics of the Clarice-Lecter relationship become the central focus of the film. On one side of the glass partition that fronts Lecter's infernal prison cell there is power and desire, on the other vulnerability and submission.

The exploitative relationship is reflected in the literary names Harris has chosen for his characters: "Hannibal Lecter" links the irresistible power of a legendary military leader (with the free side effect of some phantom elephant imagery) to a sinister intellectualism-Hannibal is a reader (a lecteur in French) of both books and souls. "Clarice Starling" trembles with a quaint, bygone femininity-a bird about to vanish under the elephant's foot.

Clarice makes herself valuable to her FBI superiors to the degree that she enjoys a "special" closeness to Lecter (although she clearly has other investigative talents). As a couple, she empowers him and he validates her; they become a unit, and we are made to feel troubled when Clarice seems to betray him with a phony deal involving a furlough on a disease-ridden island. It's like a lovers' quarrel, a senseless spat in an Astaire-Rogers film, and we want to see it resolved as quickly as possible.

Luckily, the pair is able to kiss and make up. The consummation of their relationship comes when Clarice yields her ultimate emotional secret (the traumatic childhood event that gives the film its protectively poetic title) and Lecter responds with the suggestion that finally allows her to track the new killer to his lair. There is even a happy ending, one that reaffirms the bond between the characters by means of a quick, sick joke. Lecter promises to kill (and devour) the one character they both dislike-the one character who has tried to come between them.

One of the principal themes of Demme's work is precisely this sense of exchange between the partners in a romantic relationship, an exchange that produces a couple that is greater-stronger, more stable and more alive-than the sum of its parts. The incurable dreamer (Paul Le Mat) marries the hopeless pragmatist (Mary Steenburgen) in "Melvin and Howard"; the tense businessman (Jeff Daniels) is seduced by the dangerous free spirit (Melanie Griffith) in "Something Wild"; another uptight FBI agent (Matthew Modine) succumbs to the funky ethnicity of a gangster's wife (Michelle Pfieffer) in "Married to the Mob."

"The Silence of the Lambs" parodies and perverts that process. The exchange is not free, but horribly forced, sadistically inflicted, and the couple produced is sterile and monstrous.

We know that Clarice has finally absorbed all that Lecter has to teach when Demme confers Lecter's signature shot upon her: a huge, looming close-up, taken through a space-compacting telephoto lens. This is an image of total domination-the subject's forehead seems to hang over the audience, the burning eyes fix us directly-and it sums up Demme's style in "The Silence of the Lambs," a style of intimidation, control, manipulation. He will tell us exactly where to look, down to the precise millimeter, and exactly what to feel, down to the smallest tremor.

That's hardly an unusual technique in American movies, but in th context of a Jonathan Demme film it seems almost shocking, so thoroughly and deliberately does it contradict the approach Demme has developed over the course of his career.

Like Renoir and Rossellini in Europe, and McCarey and Sturges in Hollywood, Demme belongs to a profoundly democratic tradition of filmmaking, in which the basic unit is a long shot, filled with a number of characters and a multiplicity of points of view, that allows the viewer to make his own choices, forge his own identifications and arrive at his own judgments. It is an open, free style, as opposed to the closed-off, authoritarian technique of a Hitchcock or Lang. And most audiences don't like it, because it requires too much work.

In "The Silence of the Lambs," Demme has finally given up: He's succumbed to the temptations of movie authoritarianism, making a film about domination that seeks itself to dominate its audience. Clarice's compassion is only the alibi; the film's deepest appeal lies in the dream of complete callousness, of irresistible power and perfect freedom from moral constraint, that Lecter represents. Ultimately, the film is a power fantasy barely distinguishable from the crudest Arnold Schwarzenegger or Eddie Murphy vehicle, though aimed at a more knowing, more sophisticated public.

There is one shot in "The Silence of the Lambs" that bears Demme's signature, and it comes at the very end of the film: Looking down from above, the camera watches the people passing through the narrow main street of a Caribbean village, quietly observing as Lecter disappears into the crowd. The camera continues to record the spectacle for several minutes, as the end credits pass, even though there is now nothing to see (that is, nothing to do with the narrative).

As the character disappears, so does the director: His authority melts away, leaving only an open, uninflected view of a real world living in its own time and its own rhythm. This is a shot that could have been taken by Louis Lumiere on the first day of the invention of the movies (and Lumiere did take many like it). Returning a sudden, startling sense of innocence to this deeply contrived, brutally calculated film, the shot is almost heartbreaking. Here, in one image, is what Jonathan Demme has lost.

FWIW, another article published in the Trib (written by someone else, not one of their critics) interviewed the head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit with regards to this movie. A portion of that article dealt with common traits in serial killers:
The arrest in January of drifter Aileen Carol Wuornos in Florida in connection with the recent serial killings of nine men indicated an exception to another rule: Serial killers are almost always men.

"Women (who suffer childhood abuse) internalize everything," Douglas said. "What happens is they turn to alcohol, turn to drugs, turn to prostitution."

Male killers usually choose women as victims, in part for sexual gratification but also because women are easier to dominate.

Serial killers tend to be cowards. The inability to establish or maintain relationships with women is a common trait.

"Bundy was living with a woman," Douglas recalled, "but every time there was a problem in that relationship, well, what you see is, rather than strike out at the problem with the person in their lives, whether it was an argument or whatever, they leave and they go outn a hunt, like a predatory animal. . . . They want to punish the victim and watch the victim suffer. They want to torture that victim. They want to see tears streaming down faces. They want to keep that victim alive and under control a long period of time."


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:01 pm 
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Re: "This isn't the Demme we know". The question has to be asked "Whose Demme do 'we' know?"

Those are great articles and thank you for posting them, but I do wonder if the writers had seen Demme's first films like Crazy Mama or Fighting Mad, which show off his roots in genre and exploitation films, which I think he drew upon for Silence of the Lambs. Perhaps more characteristic of Demme would be almost all his films (with the notable exceptions of Philadeplhia, Melvin and Howard and the Spalding Gray film) featuring a common motif of 'strong women', something shown off most blatantly in his directorial debut the women in prison film par excellence, Caged Heat!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:21 pm 
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Or, with respect to Rachel Getting Married, women undergoing a test of their strength. I've always thought Demme's skill with character work is one of the reasons Silence still holds up when so many of the serial killer movies that followed it now look gimmicky and lame- Clarice was an extraordinarily well realized and sensitively played heroine dropped into what could very easily have been a dumb, pulpy story about serial killers vs. serial killers.

I think it's wrong, too, to conclude that the movie is fundamentally Lecter's, and that Demme is as controlling behind the camera as Lecter is before it- Lecter is the ultimate threat, the charismatic and attractive scenario that leads from strength borne of compassion (such as Clarice's) to monstrous, arrogant intellectual vanity. We see men with various stages of that vanity- Lecter is merely the extreme, not the outlier, among them- but we care only for the women in the movie.

I say women because it's not just Clarice whom we love and whom we want to see victorious- there is Buffalo Bill's last potential victim, too, a smart, inventive woman who refuses to submit or even to be sexualized as she would in so many movies of this stripe. We care about Clarice's struggle in part because we care that she saves this woman. I think Silence is significantly a movie about gender, and as such it is hugely significant that even the most minor likable characters (like the victim's mother) are all women- and that Buffalo Bill's desire to transition is a lie.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 4:48 pm 
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Top notch video analysis of Clarice and Lector's first meeting. I hadn't realized how intricately Demme had composed that scene.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:59 am 
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The lead up to that scene, particularly the use of vertical lines, is also very fascinating.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:12 pm 
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And Tony Zhou is also right to point out at the end to look at the dynamics in all of the other jailcell scenes, such as the one in which the warden has put the fire and brimstone preacher on the TV, and the final one in which Lecter is like a trapped bird in a cage. That final scene also plays around with the traditional jail cell bars of the cage (different from the Perspex cell earlier: cruder yet more baroque, ready to be used for the grand guignol setpiece) as they go from oppressive during Clarice and Lecter's conversation/romantic parting to almost completely absent until the connection is broken.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:11 pm 
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Criterion was cited as the liscensor of this in PBS's obit of Demme which seems weird.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:05 pm 
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Reissue Feb 13


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:15 pm 
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A rare essential reissue of a film that's been released dozens of times across a number of formats. Looks like a real labor of love from Criterion and I can't wait to make it LQ's Valentine's Day gift, on the day that the course she's teaching on Demme's run-up to Silence of the Lambs wraps up, no less!


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:19 pm 
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CC always needs a cash cow.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:23 pm 
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Fiery Angel wrote:
CC always needs a cash cow.

True, but I think your cynicism would be more applicable had they not loaded this release up with appealing additions and what will likely be an excellent new transfer.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:24 pm 

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mfunk9786 wrote:
A rare essential reissue of a film that's been released dozens of times across a number of formats. Looks like a real labor of love from Criterion


Not that much "labor" involved beyond the new interview with Maitland McDonagh, and a couple of the essays. MGM did the transfer and all the other extras have been out before.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:34 pm 
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This release will mark the very first time the film will be available on home video in what I would deem acceptable HD quality, as the old Blu-ray is very mediocre, making it an absolutely essential release.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 15, 2017 4:34 pm 
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mfunk9786 wrote:
Fiery Angel wrote:
CC always needs a cash cow.

True, but I think your cynicism would be more applicable had they not loaded this release up with appealing additions and what will likely be an excellent new transfer.

No cynicism involved on my end.


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