Monday, April 15, 2013

The Silence of The Lambs (1991)

The Silence of The Lambs

This is my second watch. In my first chance of watching "The Silence of The Lambs", I know there is something need to be fixed from it. Now, I understand that that opinion is reasonable. "The Silence of The Lambs" maybe is just a similarly-styled horror-thriller, except that it has Clarice Starling and—especially—the legendary Hannibal Lecter in it. How it tries to relate to human psychopathic illness and abnormal sexual behavior is also another difference. It barely needs gory and bloody scenes, it doesn't even have a mind-blowing twist. That's why I come up with an opinion that without these characters and premises, "The Silence of The Lambs" is gonna be a thriller that is almost similar to other thrillers.

Adapted from the novel by Thomas Harris, “The Silence of The Lambs” centers on the character of Clarice Starling (portrayed by Jodie Foster), a young FBI cadet who was instructed by her senior, Jack Crawford (portrayed by Scott Glenn) to study from an imprisoned psychopathic patient, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins). The secret intention of this study is to gain information about another psychopathic serial-killer, Buffalo Bill (portrayed by Ted Levine), who was still in run. Starling has to convince Lecter to help her, as the situation gets worse after Bill kidnaps a daughter of a U.S. politician.

The Silence of The Lambs

"The Silence of The Lambs" is a good example of how could a thriller turns into a psychological horror without the presence of extreme violence and abundant bloody scenes, although there are some graphic presentations (like bodies and sensual photographs). It covers the darkest human nature, making this unbelievably possible crime to really take place. Although there's not sufficient background and reasoning about it, "The Silence of The Lambs" delivers a fresh style of spooking viewers without necessarily expanding to any artificial substitutes. It tells us that somehow, we human are more terrifying that we could possibly imagine. It develops from a look to human behavioral and psychological illness to an interesting detective-styled mystery. Not a very satisfying package, but still worth to experience.

Some parts are a bit staged, because to be honest, out of all characters and premises, "The Silence of The Lambs" doesn't give enough room to viewers to be involved in the mystery itself. I recalled, in my first watch, how I try to guess where this movie is gonna lead me to. But I wasn't either surprised or blown, because it went predictably. It is more to be a game of characters rather than a plot play, because the story doesn't offer much. Well, "The Silence of The Lambs" doesn't contain a heavy whodunit style actually, but if it does, it will be a lot more interesting. It still successfully drags you to pump your adrenaline and be curious throughout the duration, and that's why somehow watching it without trying to guess anything about the plot and asking many questions will excite you more.

The Silence of The Lambs

Clarice Starling is the star. She is the one who always be under the spotlight wherever the story goes to. A charismatic, smart, unbreakable woman with a straight-forwarded aim and a hidden scars from the past, Jodie Foster ensures us that Starling deserves the spotlight. Still, for me her presence is less attention stealing than the legendary villain, Hannibal Lecter. Anthony Hopkins delivers probably the best character he has ever portrayed in movies. He kills viewers with his gestures, words, and cold expression. He is the scene-stealer; I always curious if he was about to take sudden reaction in certain circumstances where he was faced to other persons, because his mimic is unreadable and his brain always works. A truly mind manipulator that somewhat amazes me. There's an indescribable loss where he was away from some scenes, and although Starling is always there, trying to re-balance the nuance, Lecter is the one that I expect the most. I haven't watched "Red Dragon" or "Hannibal", but I surely will, because I was so intrigued to know this character more.

Unfortunately, Lecter is more to be a secondary supporting character than Starling, or even Buffalo Bill. Since "The Silence of The Lambs" is tend to be a movie with some outstanding (or unimaginable) characters rather than with a fresh and exciting story, it puts heavy stroke on Starling alone—with no help from Lecter, due to his insignificant amount of duration to show off, or even Buffalo Bill, due to his inability to capture the perfect moment with his antagonism or to be on the same level of smarty villain like Lecter. At last, this "emptiness" appear more prominent because of the so-so story (although the premise itself is so much interesting) and the imbalance portion of characters. Jonathan Demme uses an unusual style of picturing characters by the many use of close-up framing, giving the feel like the characters are talking to the viewers directly. While it does work to characterize the roles, it doesn't contribute much to the story or the movie as a whole. Finally, the conflict does not really climax, and the final scene does not really thrill.

The Silence of The Lambs

I'm sorry, but for me somehow "The Silence of The Lambs" is a bit overrated. It's not that I don't like it; this movie just has the potent and opportunity to surprise me more than what it does right now. Interesting premises and its ability to terrify viewers with the all-human characters are what I mostly appreciate from "The Silence of The Lambs" beside, of course, the Starling-Lecter duo.



The Silence of The Lambs3.5 out of 5 stars

 ▲  The great duo of Lecter and Starling, good premise
 ▼  Not a surprising package of thriller, insignificant amount of time for Lecter to show off

THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS | COUNTRY USA YEAR 1999 RATING n.a. RUNTIME 119 min GENRE Crime, Drama, Thriller CAST Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald WRITER Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay) DIRECTOR Jonathan Demme MORE INFO


9 comments:

  1. Siip, setuju sama ente, The Silence of The Lambs is overrated. Agan Akbar kalo mau film investigasi FBI yang bener2 lebih dalam dan mindfuck banget, try David Lynch Twin Peaks deh, tv series sih, tapi dijamin habis nonton efek faktapnya bakal berasa banget.

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    1. Twin Peaks itu yang jadi inspirasi Upi buat "Belenggu" kan ya? Wah wah, segera cari deh. Makasih buat rekomendasinya Tim :)

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  2. Bro, link lo sudah dipasang di blog gue yaa, hehehe. Thanks :)

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  3. Aaah you don't like it? :( It's probably one of my favorite films of all time. I watch this film at least once a month (for real!). I think you're right, though, that SoTL is more like a character study on Starling, how she (a girl AND a rookie agent in a man-filled occupation) trying the best she can to wear off the stereotype and proving herself and her boss that she can do her job. This is first and foremost, HER film. Even the title of the film and the whole investigation is to 'redeem' her past. But Hopkins was too great playing Lecter, so he always stole the spotlight everytime he's on screen.

    The strongest point from this film is of course the unique relationship between Starling/Lecter. You can see how hard Starling tried to be strong and invulnerable in front of Lecter. But Lecter can see through her. With those conversations they're having, we can see how horrifyingly mesmerizing Lecter was. But Starling was not like any other girl. We can see that at times Lecter was also taken aback by Starling's witty remarks ("Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims." "I didn't." "No. No, you ate yours."). And in these conversations were the heart of the investigations. I believe that from the very first time he read the case file, he already had rightly guessed Buffallo Bill's profile. But no, he wanted to get inside Starling's head first, and to play games too. But I think in the end he knew that Starling was not just a regular agent after all. Those two probably one the best on-screen duos I've ever watched. Deserved their Oscars.

    And I personally think the Buffalo Bill storyline is still intriguing enough. I love the 'we covet what we see everyday' twist and the way Demme wanted us to believe that the police found Bill first. That whole sequence until the end was really tense, I still hold my breath everytime I watch it.

    Sorry for the long post haha it's okay if you don't like it, though. Even Gene Siskel hated it so much lol

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    1. Haha, that's why I gave it a second-viewing. I watched it like years ago and didn't even found that it's interesting. Due to the buzz of a recent TV-series ("Hannibal", you know it), I came up with an idea to rewatch it and, specifically, to find what is wrong with it.

      You are right. Starling is where the camera always spots at. Very much. How she was linked to Lecter is the most cinegasmic experience from this movie. But again, I feel that without Lecter, Starling is a single-fighter. I agree that Hopkins was so great that Foster's great acting is a little bit covered by his, and that's why, his very few on-screen duration is what I regret so much from this movie. Starling is supposed to be always paired with him instead of being by herself through the rest of the movie. Maybe because I have been introduced with a great villain like Lecter just from the beginning, the rest parts of the movie (the heroine vs Buffalo Bill) is not what I really want. I saw a consistency, actually, since the movie is started by Starling and is finished by her too. I don't know, I feel like the awesomeness of this (secondary) supporting character called Lecter is so much attention-stealing that this consistency would better be broken.

      Buffalo Bill is nice, actually. Ted Levine is total. But I really remember how I went like, "It's just... that?" after seeing the final scene. The suspense was nicely built, but just... not a special one.

      Perhaps I'm gonna give it my third-viewing. Thank you for your comment, I love discussion like this! :D Gene Siskel hated it? Oh, I didn't know it. Still, Silence of The Lambs could be one of so few thriller-horror movies that could make its way to Oscar.

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  4. Do me a favor and skip Hannibal Rising

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  5. Yeah, after I had watched it (for the third time), I found it quite overrated...but Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster still awesome for me, lol! I think you should read the novel, it's quite thrilling and detailed. And the author not only wrote from Starling POV, he wrote about what Lecter felt too. Anyway, sorry for my messy English, lol :D

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    1. Oh, I haven't read the novel. Thanks for your comment :D

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