AFI #74: The Silence of the Lambs

It wasn’t as scary the second time! I always think of The Silence of the Lambs as being one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen, but watching it again today it didn’t seem so scary and not just because I knew how it ended. I’ve said it a lot during these reviews, but memory definitely plays tricks on you.

What it is, though, is one heck of a great film! Maybe that’s why we remember it as scary — just look at Anthony Hopkins’ eyes! He’s one creepy dude. It’s a great film because it has everything. It has a detailed and complex story. It has memorable characters. It has shock value. It was beautifully shot. It was a thriller unlike any other and it’s one of the best films ever made. But make no mistake…The Silence of the Lambs is all about acting.

Hopkins has never been better and the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is easily one of the greatest creations in film history. And he did it all with his eyes and his voice. Jodie Foster portrayed a naive but confident Clarice Starling and made us believe that an FBI student could solve the toughest crime of a generation. And the guy who played the killer, Ted Levine, was downright scary good from his voice to his intense close ups (and lest we forget the famous “tuck” scene)!

The Silence of the Lambs was of course rewarded with a handful of Academy Awards including Best Actor and Best Actress, but also Best Director for Jonathan Demme and Screenplay. And it remains one of the only thrillers to bring home the Oscar for Best Picture. Oh, and bonus points for a Chris Isaak cameo as an FBI agent!

Next on the List: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid