Oscar Review: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Our next film of the winners of the 1990s is one of the most acclaimed films ever made. One of only three films to ever sweep the 5 major categories, The Silence of the Lambs boasts as being the first and, so far, only horror/thriller to win the Best Picture statuette.

As a young FBI trainee, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is assigned to question an imprisoned serial killer, Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lector (Anthony Hopkins), as part of an investigation into a background of a second serial killer named Buffalo Bill.

Getting past her initial fears of going up against the greatest criminal mind, Clarice is able to gain access to Lector’s expertise and move forward in their search. Pulled out of her training and directly into the heart of the investigation, Clarice begins to work hand in hand with other agents and her superior, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn).

After gaining a transfer in exchange for his assistance in providing a psychological profile, Dr. Lector negotiates his escape from a less secure facility, but not before analyzing Clarice and providing her with the truth about Buffalo Bill.
*****
A chilling film, The Silence of the Lambs is a brilliantly written psycho-thriller that has not been matched by any of its sequels. Garnering Oscars for Foster, Hopkins, Director Jonathan Demme and Ted Tally‘s adapted screenplay of Thomas Harris‘ novel, this movie keeps the audience at the edge of their seats.

It is no wonder that the dark, cold, calculating eyes of Hopkins’ Hannibal earned him the designation as the #1 film villain of all time to Foster’s claim at the #6 hero slot. Not only is this one of the best thrillers (coming in at #5) but AFI ranks The Silence of the Lambs as the #65 greatest movie ever made.

Other than Dr. Lector’s famous headgear and cool gaze, perhaps one of the most memorable moments of this film comes through one of his lines during his first encounter with Clarice, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” (#21)

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