Honoring THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 30 years after

main characters The Silence of the Lambs - thescriptblog.com

Along came a cannibal.

30 years have passed since Hannibal Lecter entered many people’s lives, mesmerizing them, becoming an instant icon. The Silence of the Lambs ended up winning 5 Oscars, all the “big ones” (best film, director, script, actor & actress). It did so A WHOLE YEAR after the film came out. Plus, it was a horror film, which made it an even less hopeful Oscar contender. Most people see it as much as a horror film as a thriller. 30 years have passed, and the film has not lost power. Many features deflate with the passing of years, but a few chosen ones even get better. This is one of them.

Hannibal Books - thescriptblog.com
Hannibal Lecter’s books

The film adapted a very popular 1988 novel, The Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris. Despite this, as the film was being made, few people bet on its success. It was a very dark thriller directed by a guy well known for his comedies, Jonathan Demme; a female-driven cop story (which was not the rule in those times); co-starred by Anthony Hopkins, who was not a movie star in 1991.

Hannibal Lecter as a character was born in a previous novel by the same author, 1981’s Red Dragon. That book had been made first into a movie in 1986, Manhunter, directed by a still unknown Michael Mann (of future Heat and Collateral fame, amongst many others), with Scottish actor Brian Cox playing Hannibal Lecter -who, for some mysterious reason, in the film is called not Lecter, but Lecktor. Maybe they thought Lecktor was more terrifying a name.

The film turned into a cult movie straightaway, its locations in and around Pittsburgh are landmarks for film buffs. The house where the character Jame Gumb (known as Buffalo Bill in the film) lives is set to become a Silence of the Lambs-themed bed-and-breakfast place.

Unfortunately, director Jonathan Demme, the film’s director, died in 2017 from complications from cancer and heart disease. But most of the fantastic cast and crew are alive and kicking, 30 years on.

Manhunter, Red Dragon & Hannibal - thescriptblog.com
Red Dragon, the book where Hannibal Lecter was born, has been adapted 3 times to the screen: Two movies (Manhunter & Red Dragon) and one TV Series (Hannibal).

As my homage to The Silence of the Lambs, I have selected what I think are the best moments from Inside the Labyrinth, a “Making Of” documentary about the film, existing on YouTube.

When you click on the links, you will see only the selected fragment. The bits I’ve chosen are short and really worth watching! (At the end of this post you have the whole doc for you to enjoy.).

15 very short videos that will interest you (especially if you are a The Silence of the Lambs’ fan)

1/ Michelle Pfeiffer was director Jonathan Demme’s first choice as Clarice Starling, Jodie Foster was considered afterward (25s). Here.

2/ Clarice Starling, a woman in man’s world (24s): Here.

3/ Movie star Gene Hackman was meant to be the director of the film and play Hannibal Lecter too, but he withdrew and the project went to the most unlikely of directors, Jonathan Demme (1m 49s). Here.

4/ For practical reasons, Pittsburgh became Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, and Washington (50s). Here.

5/ About Lecter costumes (including the iconic mask) (1m 12s). Here.

The Silence of the Lambs poster and Dali's photo - thescriptblog.com
A photo created in 1951 by Philippe Halsman and Salvador Dalí inspired the “skull” in the original poster of the film.

6/ Painter Francis Bacon as an inspiration (40s): Here.

7/ The asylum and the idea of the Plexiglas cage (2m 8s). Here.

8/ Anthony Hopkins on creating his character (1m39s). Here.

9/ The story concerning Hopkins “fava beans and a nice chianti” slurp sound (27s). Here.

10/ Hopkins amazed at Jodie Foster’s performance the first time their characters meet (31 s). Here.

Alternative The Silence of the Lambs Movie Posters

11/ In a film where moths have such prominence, a Moth Wrangler was required (2m 57s): Here.

12/ About how Jonathan Demme dealt with actors (1m7s ): Here.

13/ About the parallel climaxes on Bill’s house (1h 15s): Here.

14/ The antigay controversy that the film originated and the filmmakers never meant to cause (1m 41s): Here.

15/ The unexpected Oscar nominations and wins (1m 44s): Here.

As I write this, a new TV Series, named Clarice, about Starling’s character, has premiered. After the Marvel Universe, the DC Universe, the Star Wars Universe, the Universal’s Dark Universe, maybe we should start thinking that, although born from only 2 books, a Silence of the Lambs Universe exists too. 5 feature films and 2 TV Series make it qualify, don’t you think?

Below, a recent 30-minute online conversation between Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster

They discuss The Father, The Mauritanian, The Two Popes, acting, directing… and The Silence of the Lambs (from 15m 35s until 28m 33s).

Last, the complete 1h 02m The Silence of the Lambs “Making Of” documentary Inside the Labyrinth (Original English Version with Spanish subs)

The Silence of the Lambs still - thescriptblog.com

More about the 30th Anniversary of this film? Check the articles on Empireonline.com and Vanityfair.com, plus a very rare Thomas Harris NYT interview.

More about The Silence of the Lambs? Check our post Video-Analysis: The First Ten Minutes of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

More on “Making Of” Books? Check Best “Making Of” Books: BLADE RUNNERS, DEER HUNTERS &..Best “Making Of” Books: The Making of CITIZEN KANEBest “Making Of” Books: THE JAWS LOG and First Assistant Directors: Who Are They?, amongst many others.

More on Making Movies? Check our posts Andrew Kevin Walker on SE7EN and 8MMFilm Blocking, What is it?The 5 Best Books on Making Movies, by Darren Aronofsky and Best Screenwriting Books: ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE, amongst many others!