The Silence of the Lambs: 30 years of the movie that changed thrillers

On 6 September 1991, one of the most terrifying films in the history of cinema was released in Spain: The Silence of the Lambs. On the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, we at El Antequirófano would like to pay tribute to a true contemporary classic. The Silence of the Lambs is a movie that marked a before and after in the thriller genre, the horror and suspense took on new dimensions and introduced us to one of the greatest villains in the history of cinema: the disturbed doctor Hannibal Lecter. Silence of the Lambs thus became a legendary movie.

The Silence of the Lambs: the film adaptation of a disturbing novel

El silencio de los cordero

The Silence of the Lambs originates from the tetralogy written by Thomas Harris consisting of the novels The Red Dragon (1985), The Silence of the Lambs (1988), Hannibal (1999) and Hannibal: The Origin of Evil (2006). All of them have been adapted into films with varying degrees of success. When The Silence of the Lambs was published, it became a publishing success and film rights were quickly bought. Curiously, it was the actor Gene Hackman who got hold of them with the intention of directing the film adaptation. Later, after reading the script, he backed out because he considered it too violent. Thus the project fell into the hands of director Jonathan Demme.

Although it was clear from the beginning that the character of Lecter would be played by Anthony Hopkins, the same was not true for the role of Agent Starling. Michelle Pfeiffer was initially considered for this role, but the actress also turned down the part due to the violence of the film.

Jodie Foster went on to play the unforgettable Clarice Starling, one of the best roles of her career. The actress was able to embroider the role of a true heroine capable of catching the murderer while facing her own fears. What is clear is that the film adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs is a true masterpiece of horror cinema. The film was able to transfer the power of the tension between the protagonists described in the novel. Throughout the two hours of footage, Jonathan Demme and his actors take us on a journey full of terror, tension and suspense and give us some masterful scenes such as the tense first meeting between the protagonists or the distressing and claustrophobic final scene, in the dark, in the house where the victim is kidnapped. A true cinema classic.

A film in which the protagonists only share four sequences and in which Anthony Hopkins only appears for 25 minutes.

Directed by Jonathan Demme, one of the great successes of the film was the excellent chemistry between its two main characters: the agent Clarice Statarling (played by a magnificent Jodie Foster) and the psychopath Hannibal Lecter (played by a sublime Anthony Hopkins) who only appears on screen for 25 minutes and only takes part in 8 scenes. Both manage, in the few scenes they share, to really make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end with absolutely convincing performances

Hannibal Lecter is one of cinema most memorable characters

El silencio de los corderos Hannibal Lecter

thirty years after its release, Silence of the Lambs is still capable of generating real terror. The opening scene in which the protagonists make contact for the first time in the maximum security prison where Hannibal Lecter is serving his sentence is unforgettable. The doctor, standing impassively in the centre of the cell, calm and gawking, is terrifying. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that the viewer can even empathise with this monster. Lecter is shown as a cultivated, erudite, highly intelligent, elegant and educated person.

This highly cultured character was able to place the audience in a fantastic duality between fascination and rejection. The Doctor, with his icy stare and commanding tone of voice, is capable of sending a real shiver down the spine of the viewer. Anthony Hopkins was apparently inspired for the role by a friend of his who never blinked and who he said made him very nervous. Be that as it may, the actor managed to give shape to a character capable of making viewers shudder. In fact, in a survey by the American Film Institute, Hannibal Lecter was voted the best villain in the history of cinema.

The Silence of the Lambs is one of the three films awarded with the 5 best Oscars

The Silence of the Lambs was a resounding box-office and critical success. At the 64th Oscars, Jonathan Demme proudly picked up the Oscar for best director. But it was not the only time that Silence of the Lambs was named at the ceremony. That night, the film managed to win the other four most coveted Academy Awards. The Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Screenplay made the film go down in history, as until then only two films( Frank Capra’sIt Happened One Night and Milos Formans One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) held the title of having the so-called Big 5, the 5 most important Oscars. The Silence of the Lambs also became the first horror film in the history of cinema to win the Oscar for Best Picture. In short, a film that has stood the test of time. A true masterpiece.


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