Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Silence of the Lambs

We were supposed to watch Breakfast Club. Just wanted a relaxing movie night, my roommate and I. But we couldn’t find Breakfast Club anywhere, not for free anyway.

So we watched Silence of the Lambs instead.

I’d never seen it, but I knew the general idea. I vividly remembered my friend Emma’s Hannibal Lector impression, “Have the lambs been silenced, Clarice?” I pictured an evil, bald, cannibal scientist looking down into a pit packed—presumably—with lambs, while his loyal assistant Clarice scribbled notes onto a clipboard. Clarice, in my head, had goggle-like glasses and aspirations of overthrowing her kooky boss, Hannibal.

That was not at all what this movie was about.

Clarice, it turned out, was even cooler than I imagined. She was a top student at the FBI training academy, with a background in criminal psychology. She gave off a strong Dana Scully vibe. Was this baby Scully in the making? I will check later.

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I was told that she and Anthony Hopkins both won Oscars for their performances in this movie, and holy damn did they deserve it. That interrogation scene? Anthony’s eyes dug into your soul, steely blue behind his thick glasses. I understood why everyone loved Hannibal Lector – why he was a classic villain character. His very presence, even when caged behind bullet-proof glass, was disconcerting. He didn’t look strong, but you saw the gears turning in his head a million miles a minute. Don’t touch the glass, the guards warned Clarice. Oh, I’d take that advice to heart. Nothing escaped Lector’s gaze, he was ready for you to slip up – and you would, way before he did.

And then he’d eat you.

I loved this movie. I was expecting a cult favorite horror movie, but I got more than I bargained for. This was a quality film. I saw it won five Oscars: well-deserved, my friend. I appreciated the female characters especially. Also, this film was made, I think, in a time before we became more socially conscious of how we portray women in film, and I was happy to see that Clarice was everything I wanted in a protagonist. She was strong, fiercely intelligent, but also inherently flawed. She put on a good poker face, but she wasn’t fearless. And I loved that she’d march right into the belly of the beast even when she was utterly terrified.

But anyway. Moral of the story: don’t fuck with Hannibal Lector. Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep with Hannibal Lector. And don’t leave sharp, easily concealable objects on his desk.

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