The movie is about Clarice Starling, training for the FBI. She is tiny, but she is strong and confidant. She seeks out Hannibal Lecter for help in finding a serial killer plaguing the town. Hannibal is a cannibal, but also a genius and a psychologist. They have a lot in common, and they respect each other for their intelligence. There is a sense that Hannibal actually respects Clarice, - he looks out for her and helps her, and we sort of become found of him. I always got the sense that Hannibal killed that weird, pervvy inmate to show Clarice what he could do, and that he respected her. Her face when she finds out always seemed like evidence of this as well. The movie is not all character and drama, though. There is a lot of terror and tension and fear, and it always puts me on edge. There are so many chilling scenes, and we care about them so deeply because we like and can relate to the characters.
I love Clarice, as well. It's rare that there is a woman in a movie that could actually be a role model for girls. Clarice is tough and smart, and she doesn't back down. She suffers more for being a woman, but she deals with it and tries even harder to prove herself. She isn't going to let anyone drive her away from her goals or take away her ambition. I actually sort of was inspirited by her character. I'm an English major now, but ever since I saw this movie when I was younger, I had wanted to go into criminal justice or psychology. It sort of sparked an interest in true crime that I still have today. It's so nice to see a movie where a woman can kick ass and she doesn't have to wear booty shorts or a catsuit to do it.
On a different note, I did read in Ebert's essay that Anthony Hopkins had much less screen time than Clarice. She always stands out in my head as being a great heroine, but just like everyone else, I sort of love Hannibal, too. He's so fascinating, I can't help it! I was actually shocked when Ebert said he only had 16 minutes of screen time total, it seems like so much more because he has such an impression on me when I watch this.
I'm so sleepy, I wish I could keep writing but my eyes keep closing. I love this movie. The characters are so perfect and easy to care for. The scenes that deal with the horror and thriller elements are actually terrifying. The special effects held up really well - I still cringe at scenes, find myself watching it holding my breath because I've gotten so tense. I wish more horror and thriller movies put in characters that were more than just disposable, things to get killed off so they look icky and scare us for 10 seconds. We don't often come back to those movies to watch them again, except drunk with friends. We don't find ourselves thinking about the movie after it is over. Here, we have to think uncomfortable thoughts, like our love for Hannibal. Why? He's just charismatic enough that we can forget that he's a murderer? That's chilling. I love it.
This is just one of those movies that I never, ever get sick of watching. It has everything that I like, and all the elements blend so perfectly. I always am excited to watch this. If you haven't seen The Silence of the Lambs, I'm shocked. Go rent it immediately, especially if you like any sort of crime/horror/thriller sort of movie. If you've seen this movie before, read Ebert's essay, he says a lot of really interesting and observant things about the themes in both story and cinematography. Now, I must sleep, lest I pass out right here, where my alarm will not wake me and I will oversleep until noon.
Ebert's Great Movie Essay on The Silence of the Lambs