I tend to pick my favorite things in groups of three, including my favorite films. Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs makes it into this list for me (along with The Lord of the Rings and The Lion King), ever since my first viewing of it in my sophomore year of high school. Never did I think I’d get to study one of my all-time favorite movies for school, but…
Needless to say, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen this film. It was the movie that piqued my interest in the psychological thriller genre, though I realize Silence is most often identified as horror. It also steered me toward an interest in psychology. This film is no cheap thrill, though it doesn’t ever lose its momentum. It’s the kind of story that commands your attention for its entire duration, due to both its pacing as well as the very thought that you may miss something in figuring it all out.
Hannibal Lecter is my favorite antagonist of all time. Although you can never predict what he’ll do next because of his psychotic tendencies (eating human flesh for one), everything appears so well-planned and thought out after his actions are executed. His grand escape scene, for example, and how well timed everything was. It was a literal jaw-dropping moment for me the first time I saw Lecter peel off Sgt. Pembry’s face from his own. There are many unique qualities to Lecter that make him so memorable, from his love of classical art and music to the fact that his pulse never increases when murdering someone. Almost all killers get an adrenaline rush from the kill, but Lecter is different, and therefore more terrifying. I love this character to the point where I always root for his escape. This may be unhealthy, but if people weren’t rude, they’d have nothing to worry about.
It’s also terrifying to think that someone so psychotic was was a psychiatrist himself, and that he carries the intelligence to manipulate other minds in any way he chooses. Usually a character with this level of intelligence would be annoying and feel unrealistic. But Lecter’s one weakness is his insanity, which is how Will Graham is able to catch him prior to any dealings with Starling. This makes it a little easier to accept. That and my opinion that Lecter is too interesting for us to really care.
Then we have Clarice, through whom Harris expertly portrays the struggle of a female in the traditionally masculine field of the FBI. She struggles with comments and underestimation from her male counterparts on a daily basis, but has conditioned herself to ignore them and to keep her eye on her goal of becoming an FBI agent. These feminist qualities to the film make me like it all the more. When I introduce myself to new people, Silence is often referenced to me because my name is so similar to hers, and I always take it as a high compliment.
This entire post makes it pretty apparent that I am biased toward this film, but I really don’t have any complaints to the story, and never have. From pacing to plot to character, everything is well-developed without being overkill.
And with that, I do still have one question. How the hell did he get the pen?