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The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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1:49 | Trailer
A young FBI cadet must receive the help of an incarcerated and manipulative cannibal killer to help catch another serial killer, a madman who skins his victims.

Director:

Jonathan Demme

Writers:

Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Popularity
259 ( 14)
Top Rated Movies #23 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 62 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jodie Foster ... Clarice Starling
Lawrence A. Bonney Lawrence A. Bonney ... FBI Instructor
Kasi Lemmons ... Ardelia Mapp
Lawrence T. Wrentz Lawrence T. Wrentz ... Agent Burroughs
Scott Glenn ... Jack Crawford
Anthony Heald ... Dr. Frederick Chilton
Frankie Faison ... Barney
Don Brockett ... Friendly Psychopath
Frank Seals Jr. Frank Seals Jr. ... Brooding Psychopath
Stuart Rudin ... Miggs
Anthony Hopkins ... Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Maria Skorobogatov Maria Skorobogatov ... Young Clarice (as Masha Skorobogatov)
Jeffrie Lane Jeffrie Lane ... Clarice's Father
Leib Lensky Leib Lensky ... Mr. Lang
George 'Red' Schwartz George 'Red' Schwartz ... Mr. Lang's Driver (as Red Schwartz)
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Storyline

FBI trainee Clarice Starling works hard to advance her career, while trying to hide/put behind her West Virginia roots, of which if some knew, would automatically classify her as being backward or white trash. After graduation, she aspires to work in the agency's Behavioral Science Unit under the leadership of Jack Crawford. While she is still a trainee, Crawford asks her to question Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist imprisoned, thus far, for eight years in maximum security isolation for being a serial killer who cannibalized his victims. Clarice is able to figure out the assignment is to pick Lecter's brains to help them solve another serial murder case, that of someone coined by the media as Buffalo Bill, who has so far killed five victims, all located in the eastern US, all young women who are slightly overweight (especially around the hips), all who were drowned in natural bodies of water, and all who were stripped of large swaths of skin. She also figures that Crawford chose ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Brilliant. Cunning. Psychotic. In his mind lies the clue to a ruthless killer. - Clarice Starling, FBI. Brilliant. Vulnerable. Alone. She must trust him to stop the killer. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 April 1991 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

De schreeuw van het lam See more »

Filming Locations:

Clay County, West Virginia, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$19,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$13,766,814, 15 February 1991, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$130,742,922

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$272,742,922
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel and serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy helped Keppel investigate the Green River Serial Killings in Washington. Bundy was executed January 24, 1989. The Green River Killings were finally solved in 2001, when Gary Ridgway was arrested. On November 5, 2003, in a Seattle courtroom, Ridgway plead guilty to forty-eight counts of aggravated first degree murder. See more »

Goofs

The biologist identifies the moth found behind the murder victim's soft palate as Acherontia styx, the Deaths Head moth. The Deaths Head moth used in the poster is actually Acherontia atropos. (A third Deaths Head moth is called Acherontia lachesis.) While A. styx is native to Asia, as identified by the biologist, A. atropos is native to the Middle East and Mediterranean. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
FBI instructor: Starling! Starling! Crawford wants to see you in his office.
Clarice Starling: Thank you, sir.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The producers wish to thank Adele, Bobby and the rest of the gang at Bufa's. See more »

Alternate Versions

Criterion's Special Edition on DVD features outtake footage not included in the theatrical version, including:
  • a longer version of the scene where Clarice discovers Raspail's head inside Your-Self Storage;
  • a longer version of the scene where Lector explains to Clarice how to identify Buffalo Bill from his rejected applications for sex change surgery. The dialogue is longer and is taken almost verbatim from Thomas Harris' novel, and plays over a scene where the camera moves inside Buffalo Bill's cellar, stopping at the edge of the pit where Senator Martin's daughter is held. This is the same scene that appears in the theatrical version, right after Starling's visit to the enthomologists Roden and Pilcher, with no voiceover but with music and sound effects and Katherine Martin's screams coming from the pit;
  • a brief new scene where Starling is given a gun from instructor Brigham right before her departure for West Virginia;
  • an alternate version of the car scene where Starling and Crawford are talking after the Elk River victim's autopsy. In the theatrical version, Crawford apologizes to Starling for humiliating her in front of the state troopers; the alternate take has Starling revealing that a bug cocoon was found in Benjamin Raspail's throat. In the theatrical version this information is not revealed until later, when Starling mentions it during one of her encounters with Lector;
  • a longer version of the telephone conversation between FBI Director Burke, Paul Krendler and Crawford after the phony offer to Lekter has been discovered; Crawford tries to convince Krendler not to accept Lector's help;
  • a new scene showing a meeting with Starling, Crawford, Paul Krendler and and FBI Director Burke; Krendler blames Starling and Crawford for Lector's escape and Burke suspends them both from the case;
  • the DVD also features the complete video monologue from performance artist Jim Roche as the TV Evangelist; in the theatrical version Roche appears on a TV put in front of Lector's cell, as punishment for Miggs' death.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Justice: Crucified (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Goodbye Horses
(1988)
Performed by Q. Lazzarus
Written by William Garvey (as W. Garvey)
[Played when Jame Gumb is introduced and applying his makeup]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Absolutely Brilliant.
19 February 1999 | by Scudder-3See all my reviews

Sweeping all five major Academy Awards ("Oscars" for Best Movie, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay) is quite an accomplishment. Doing it nearly a year after a film was released is a miracle considering the notoriously short attention span of Oscar voters. It is a powerful example of how great a movie can be when superb writers, directors, actors, and others work at the top of their craft.

`Silence of the Lambs' is the story of a young FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) who is summoned to help find one serial killer called `Buffalo Bill.' by interviewing another. Foster's performance is absolutely brilliant. While Anthony Hopkins receives most of the (well-deserved) praise for his chilling portrayal of incarcerated serial killer `Hannibal ‘the Cannibal' Lector', it is Foster's performance that holds the movie together. The fear she shows just behind her eyes makes Clarice's outward courage all the more interesting and vulnerable. This is the perfect way to play the part because it explains Lector's interest in Clarice. Her only bargaining chip in getting Lector's help is to let him `feed' on her innermost secrets and fears in exchange for his brilliant insights into the psychotic mind. The title of the movie comes from these exchanges and is very poignant.

Director Jonathan Demme is masterful. There is one scene late in the movie that I will not spoil. It is one of the most simply brilliant scenes ever staged in a movie. I don't know if all the credit goes to Demme or the writers, but there is a moment in the film where the suspense builds beautifully to a what seems to be a common movie scene. However, through skillful timing of the direction, the audiences assumptions are used against them and when the truth is revealed (hint: it involves a doorbell) it is shocking and induced a collective gasp from the audience I saw it with at the theatre. It set the stage for an edge-of-your seat climax.

Do not miss this movie.

The movie is incredibly suspenseful and an absolute must see.


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