The Silence of the Lambs


Movie: The Silence of the Lambs

Release Date: February 14, 1991

Director: Jonathan Demme

Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine

Personal History: Watched Before

Rating: 10 Oscars out of 10

It is rare that a movie often associated with the horror genre can in the same breath be called one of the greatest movies of all time. ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is one such film. It was a hit with critics and audiences alike from its release and continues to be right up to today. It has since become a franchise and one of the most accoladed horror films ever. It’s the last film to become a member of the “Top Five” club, winning the top five categories at the Academy Awards. It is arguably a classic.

‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is one of my favorite movies of all time and was a part of my 365 Day Movie Challenge in 2020. Currently ranked at number thirty-six on my favorites list, it is one that I never get tired of watching. Below is an edited version of what I wrote about the movie three years ago. Click here for the unedited version.

From A Movie a Day Keeps the Doctor Away November 26, 2020:

One weekend in late February of 1991 during my second year of college, I traveled home to visit family and friends. Over that weekend I went to the movies with some of those friends to see ‘The Silence of the Lambs.’ Included in that group was a girl who had already seen the film but insisted that we all go see it. She loved it and not only wanted so badly to see it again but make sure we saw what she called “the best movie ever.” Little did I know at that time that I would also be seeing the movie in theaters twice, the second time with a very unwilling participant.

‘The Silence of the Lambs’ was released in theaters on Valentine’s Day in 1991. It instantly received critical acclaim with critics calling it “a taut thriller” and “one of the best of the year.” As far as box office was concerned, the film was more of a sleeper hit and gradually became a commercial success. Thanks to strong word of mouth, it remained in theaters for months and eventually became the fifth highest grossing film in the world that year. It has since become an award winning cultural phenomenon that has spawned sequels, prequels, a television series as well as many spoofs and parodies.

I spent that first time in the theater literally on the edge of my seat. It was such a wonderfully produced and acted thriller that teetered on horror and I loved every minute of it. It was equally entertaining and terrifying. After the movie, the friend that drove us to the theater checked his trunk saying, “I just wanted to make sure Hannibal wasn’t in there.” It was a bit over the top, but the film freaked him out, as it did a lot of people.

A couple weeks later in March, I returned home for Spring Break. My girlfriend at the time (who eventually became my fiancé/wife/ex-wife) traveled with me to spend a few days with me and my family. One of those nights while we were visiting my paternal Grandfather’s house, my parents decided to treat us to a movie. My dad and girlfriend wanted to see ‘The Silence of the Lambs,’ but my mother loathed horror. She despised being scared in every way shape and form. Thankfully, she was not aware of the movie so, I told her it was a comedy. She bought it, and we were on our way.

On the car ride to the theater, my mom started asking questions about the movie as well as piecing things together in her head. By the time we arrived, she knew exactly what she was getting into and was none to pleased. However, I told her that I had already seen the movie and if she sat by me, I would tell her when to look and when not to look. And that’s exactly what happened. My mom sat in the theater, hands clenched to the chair the entire two hours, closing her eyes every time I whispered her to do so. Despite being terrified, my mom did enjoy the movie although she said she would never, ever watch it again. She had a history of going to movies she didn’t want to see for the love of her family (see 58. Psycho). She was always such a good sport.

My mom stood by her word and never once watched Hannibal Lecter again in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ or any other incarnation. I on the other hand, became a true blue fan. I bought the movie on VHS, eventually DVD, and have traveled to the theater to see all of its sequels and prequels. I have even read all of the novels by Thomas Harris of which they are based. I enjoyed the books, although after reading the ending of “Hannibal” I flung it across the room. (I hated the ending and thankfully they changed it when adapting it on film.) I watched the TV show “Hannibal” via Netflix and enjoyed that as well.

‘The Silence of the Lambs’ has to be one of the best thrillers ever produced for the screen. After almost thirty years, it is still terrifying to watch. Jonathan Demme was a fantastic director and was really at the top of his game for this film. Winning the top five Oscars is no easy task, but this movie deserved every single one it received in 1991. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins are superb as is the rest of the ensemble cast. I have watched this movie so many times, I could lip sync along to it.

I am sure this film is not everyone’s cup of tea. It definitely was not my mom’s. But if she could watch it and appreciate it, everyone can and should.

Despite its controversies and boycotts by the LGBTQ community and feminist groups, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ has remained one of my favorite movies of all time. There is never a day that goes by where it is not referenced, quoted or thought about. Those lambs will never be silenced.


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