“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans, and a nice Chianti”
It was said by Dr. Lecter to Ms. Starling, during the psyche-analysis which was being undertaken by her. This line still strikes fear in the heart of the bravest with that sinking feeling inside their head. That’s the effect that the movie, Silence of the Lambs, has on the viewer’s mind.
The story revolves around the ambitious FBI trainee, Ms Clarice Starling played by Jodie Foster and an ingenious psychopath, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, who is also referred to as Hannibal “the Cannibal” because of his disturbing tendency of eating a part of his victim’s body after the kill. Dr. Lecter is kept under a maximum security prison which he loathes as he later on divulges to Ms. Starling later on. Ms Starling is assigned a perilous task of studying the habits and behavior of the witty and dangerous psychopath, Dr. Lecter. The task was supposed to be an aid to unravel the mystery of cascading series of murders suspected to be done by another psychopath, referred to as “Buffalo Bill”.
During few sessions we see how both the seemingly opposite personalities had a lot in common when it came to their past. Dr. Lecter became interested in her childhood tale of being an unloved orphan and through the series of conversations carried out across the thick glass sheet of his prison cell, we get to know the significance of “the lambs”, which provides a certain level of depth to the title.
The way Anthony Hopkins portrayed this character is by far, I believe was the most counter-intuitive and genius way of doing it. The fluid serpentine flow of speech and an inherent ability to get inside the victim’s mind are some terrifying inherent characteristics which are brilliantly carried out by the Oscar-winning actor. At the same time, Jodie Foster plays the role of a woman who is being dominated and objectified by the men she gets to interact with. This story entwines the lives of a law-enforcing trainee and a law-breaking psychopathic psychiatrist, with a common urge to leave the conditions that they are subjected to, mentally for Ms. Clarice and physically for Dr. Lecter(“People will say we are in love, Clarice”, crackles Dr. Lecter). Both of them tried to inveigle someone or the other. Dr. Lecter through his ability cajoled the adjacent cell-mate to swallow his own tongue which creates a sickening and grim feeling, which makes the audience feel right at edge. Also how Ms. Starling cleverly persuaded Dr. Lecter to provide his analysis of the murders in exchange of his much awaited liberties. She played on his craving for a view of the outside world, and tricked him by giving him fraudulent documents, confirming the same.
The concept of “simplicity” was touched on beautifully. Dr Lecter who is called as a man with “high perception power” in the movie, drops a subtle clue about “simplicity” which becomes the key for Ms. Starling to crack the case. The way it was portrayed in the climax, how through simple logical deductions based on the idea of how even the most convoluted of things are based on some simple daily habit, calls for a special appreciation for script writers.
The right-on-time zoom ins and that eerie, gloomy vibe which the movie was able to establish and most importantly hold it, played a pivotal role in the movie’s success. The scene where Dr. Lecter aka “the Cannibal” bit the guard’s cheek and ripped it out, and then beat the other guard to death was the peak after which a strongly strange and ominous feeling settles in. The uncanny playing of music while he does this and then let his hand flow, smoothly in the air while he enjoys that music with the blood spreading on the floor and two dead bodies on the ground with a messed up face of one and a grotesque and mangled body of the other, it would be an understatement to say that the movie was spooky.
However the movie’s script was clearly trying to talk about the Transgender and their struggle with their body. As the story develops, we become conversant with the theory of “Buffalo Bill” of being a Queer, a derogatory tag. His predilection of torturing young woman and peeling off their skin, obviously instilled an irksome feeling. However through his supreme insight, Dr. Lecter could tell that he was a person with troubled past and had a strained view of his own sexual orientation with sexual frustration. Again the topic of woeful past came into picture. This theme seems to resonate throughout the movie and emphasizes on the fact that how small incidences in an impressionable age carries those scars, those ripples forward in life, only to see how these scars deepen and ripples amplify with many severe consequences, on the person’s personality and also on their immediate vicinity.
However overtime, condescending statements in the script have always been a constant source of criticism, like the fact that Ms. Clarice said trans people are “very passive”, have always been under heavy criticism in these past years. Also the unnecessary scene of the victim’s mom who was a Senator, urges the kidnapper (“Buffalo Bill”) to leave her daughter, and show the world that he was capable of being better than that. In this scene, not even a single reaction was shown from the accused side, in this case, Bill.
However it is sufficient to say, the movie was already breaking so many barriers in so many aspects of that time and the elements of the story and characters are still not quintessential which makes the story a perfect classic in the thriller genre with some memorable lines and ideas for the posterity.

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