• James Rutherford

'The Silence of the Lambs': The Landmark Tale of an FBI Trainee Engaging A Brilliant Cannibal Killer


Movie poster for the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs (1991) is a highly renowned and viscerally absorbing horror-thriller starring Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, a young FBI cadet assigned to consult with incarcerated murderer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). As the FBI hunts a brutal serial killer dubbed "Buffalo Bill" (Ted Levine), Starling meets with his former psychiatrist Lecter in attempt to pinpoint Bill's motives and identity.


An FBI trainee in Quantico, Virginia, Starling is handpicked by Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), head of the Bureau's Behavioral Science Unit, to interview Lecter at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Colloquially nicknamed "Hannibal the Cannibal" for his ghoulish appreciation for human flesh, Lecter plays a series of intricate mind games with the impressionable yet tenacious Starling—their extended series of tête-à-têtes serving as the backbone to this darkly tantalizing depiction of twisted human psychology.


Based on Thomas Harris' renowned 1988 novel and directed by American filmmaker Jonathan Demme (Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married), The Silence of the Lambs is a heavyweight of a dramatic thriller—extraordinarily well-crafted and highlighted by an absolutely bone-chilling performance by Hopkins. One of the only films in history to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, it's a now legendary tour de force and a true landmark in 20th Century cinema.

 

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