Friday, February 25, 2011

1991: The Silence of the Lambs

In order to gain insight into an at-large serial killer, known as "Buffalo Bill," FBI-trainee Clarice Starling is assigned to interview an incarcerated serial killer, Doctor Hannibal Lecter - aka Hannibal the cannibal.  Lecter agrees to provide information about Buffalo Bill, as long as Starling tells him about her personal background, which she has been strongly advised not to do.  Getting Lecter to talk becomes even more urgent when Buffalo Bill kidnaps the daughter of a U.S. Senator, and Starling becomes desperate to find her before it's too late.

This is without a doubt the creepiest movie I have ever seen.  Granted, I haven't seen too many horror movies - Hitchcock is about as scary as I'm comfortable with - but this has to be one of the most disturbing films ever made.  This movie was extremely difficult for me to watch (and what was I thinking, starting it so late at night?) and I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't like horror films.  That being said, it's an extraordinarily well-made film, so I can understand why it's so highly acclaimed, particularly by people who like this genre.  I noticed some truly brilliant camera work, and I probably would have noticed more if I hadn't been so caught up in the tension and suspense.  This is not a film to watch when you want to relax.  It's mercifully just shy of two hours, but it feels much longer because of the suspense, and I was incredibly relieved when it was over.

This is the third and last (so far) movie to win all five major Academy Awards (the previous two, as I mentioned when I blogged about them, were It Happened One Night in 1934 and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975).  Anthony Hopkins's career-defining performance as Hannibal Lecter is fabulous, and would be fun to watch if he wasn't so creepy.  It would have been a crime if he hadn't won Best Actor for this.  But his performance alone is not enough; Jodie Foster completes the film with her portrayal of the sympathetic Starling.  Their characters' interactions, especially with the camera angles filming them, are by far the best parts of the film, albeit very creepy.  The scenes of Buffalo Bill scattered throughout, while they may be necessary to the story, are not nearly as good.  Overall, I'm going to give this movie a trembling thumbs-up and then forswear horror films forever (with the exception of Alfred Hitchcock).

Side note: I have to point out that Beauty and the Beast was also nominated for Best Picture of 1991, which made it the first animated film ever nominated for Best Picture.  To this day it remains the only animated film to be one of five Best Picture nominees (Up and Toy Story 3 were nominated after the Academy randomly decided to go back to ten nominees).  While I can see why the Academy thought that Silence of the Lambs was better from a technical standpoint, I would rather watch Beauty and the Beast any day.

And the winner for 1992 is: Unforgiven

No comments:

Post a Comment