Silence of the Lambs, adapted from a novel by Thomas Harris, was released in 1991. This frightening, psychological horror film is driven from beginning to end by a talented group of actors who match this gripping story.

It follows an FBI cadet who has the opportunity to assist the bureau in solving a case before she graduates from the academy. It seemed like a stretch when the opportunity was given to this student law enforcement officer, but as the story progressed, it becomes apparent why Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, was asked to participate in this mission.

Even though Starling appears in most of the scenes, the character that will never be forgotten by movie goers is Hannibal Lecter (aka Hannibal the Cannibal), played by Anthony Hopkins. Ted Levine plays this film’s other monster, Jame “Buffalo Bill” Grub. An administrator of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally insane, Dr. Frederick Chilton is played by Anthony Herald, while a Pittsburgh native, Scott Glenn, plays the part of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit’s Agent-in-Charge, Jack Crawford.

The differences between the young, hopeful Starling and the cunning but insane Hannibal are too numerous to list. But their similarities, though few, are significant. Starling is an attractive young lady in a male-dominated institution, a country girl making her way in mainstream society, an orphan without any of the family structure that she can reach out to for support. She’s an outsider. And as far as Dr. Hannibal goes, he has been spending his days in a maximum-security wing of a hospital for the criminally insane because he commits murders and participates in cannibalism. You can’t be more of an outsider than that!

He doesn’t necessarily like her when they first meet, but he does understand who she is and with this understanding comes power.  Starling has a grasp on the situation, but she has a job to do.

The FBI cadet and the imprisoned cannibal are both intelligent. Hannibal’s IQ is probably too high to measure while Starling’s got her into the academy. Hannibal is a genius with charm but lacking any moral compass. Starling’s role model is her deceased father who was killed while serving as a police officer in a small town in West Virginia. Hannibal wants out of jail. Starling wants to help stop a monster that is killing and mutilating young women. It’s believed that Hannibal can help end the rampage of a serial killer, the monster known as Buffalo Bill. Hannibal delivers hints but it will take more than the imprisoned madman is willing to deliver to save another young woman from being murdered. It will take someone who seeks the truth even after it’s been reported that the situation is under control.

As the film ended, I had the feeling that Hannibal Lecter really liked Clarice Starling as much as a man like him could like anyone.

While the primary filming for Silence of the Lambs was done in or around Pittsburgh, you have to know Pittsburgh in order to pick out any recognizable landmarks.  No incline cars or fountains were required for this work.

I’m looking forward to the next time I see this film, now that I know when to cover my eyes

The 64th Academy Awards thought a lot of this film giving it awards for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture.

By: Tom Pollard