Feb 24, 2008

[Movies] The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the LambsNot all Oscar winners are equal, quite frankly. There are some that really make their mark on the entertainment industry and there are others that are relegated to the role of interesting trivia factoids.

Personally, I've always found The Silence of the Lambs to be one of the former kind. You have to admit, this particular movie really made a mark on our collective consciousness. It was more than just a run-of-the-mill horror movie but a completely different kind of movie experience and totally changed the lives of all those involved.

So when I chanced upon this stellar movie on Velvet (SkyCable Ch. 53) last Saturday, I found myself inexorably drawn into watching it once more despite having seen it so many times before.

The Silence of the Lambs is based on a book by Thomas Harris in pretty much a trilogy of titles around the fearsome Dr. Hannibal Lecter, as immortalized by Sir Anthony Hopkins. This chapter of the story deals with rookie FBI cadet Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) on the case of a mysterious serial killer named Buffalo Bill. Their only hope of solving the case was to tap the expertise of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, once a famed criminal profiler but now incarcerated as a cannibalistic serial killer in his own right.

Naturally, a large part of the success of this movie lies in the core story behind the screenplay, definitely something to the credit of Harris' original creative work. Then again, writing can only go so far and that's where we have to pay respect to those who deserve in terms of those who brought the original story to life on the silver screen.

Sir Anthony Hopkins' performance as Hannibal forever changed the nature of horror and perhaps even evil on a human scale. He's not that over-the-top but instead shows us a glimpse of what our darker natures as human beings could possible be. It's hard to dislike him absolutely given that he's also a highly cultured and educated person. It just so happens that in the past he had a nasty habit of killing people and eating them. Nothing much really.

Then we turn to Jodie Foster, who's always been an actress of interest for me. The role of Clarice Starling was played by Julianne Moore in the sequel, Hannibal, but it's Foster's Oscar-winning performance that I fell really embodied Starling as a character. Everything about her ranging from her no-nonsense attitude down to her southern drawl really made her quite the memorable and remarkable female heroine of sorts.

The movie was scary in all the right places and not your cheesy corny monster-driven horror but more of the psychological thriller, the kind of fright that only comes from your baser human features being tugged and pulled at by a true master of the story-telling craft.

I wish I could be more detailed in my reasons for praising the movie thus but I don't want to get into spoilers for those few movie fans who have somehow managed to get through life without watching this classic. While all the sequels and prequels are interesting as well, nothing quite beats the one that really set the ball rolling for us from a movie perspective given how it changed the genre for us.

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