The Silence of the Lambs-
my all time favourite Oscar winning movie
Thriller, horror and psychological movies are challenging to make. In addition to it, it is even more difficult or unlikely for such films to win Oscar/Academy awards. Films based on serial killings, violence, gruesome murders and disturbing scenes seldom win at the Oscars.
One such psychological film that won the prestigious award (top five awards – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay) is Jonathan Demme’s 1991 horror-thriller flick ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. It is the only horror film that won the Best Picture.
Reasons behind loving this film lie in the film itself. I fell in love with Anthony Hopkins and his flown talent of acting when I saw the movie. Later, I found out about its prolific and envious Oscar journey. Five Oscar wins for a psychological horror film? Well, there is literally something unworldly about Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs.
Clarice Starling (played by the brilliant Jodie Foster) plays an FBI agent who seeks help from a genius psychopathic (rather cannibalistic) serial killer and former psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (played by the outstanding Anthony Hopkins) to track down a serial killer, ‘Buffalo Bill’ (played by Ted Levine). He skins his female victims. Goosebumps already? There are more in The Silence of the Lambs.
Great acting skills do not get overlooked or overshadowed by others’ performances. Foster held her own and did not let Hopkins rule the roast. It is relevant to mention here that Anthony Hopkins has less than 17 minutes of screen time in the film. Despite having less than 17 minutes on the screen, he managed to win the Best Actor in a Leading Role award at the 1992 Academy Awards (March 30, 1992). His role is certainly the shortest performance ever to win an Oscar for Best Actor in a Lead Performance. Horror with restraint. One of the most compelling scenes comprise the encounters between Foster and Hopkins.
It is understandable what is Anthony Hopkins made up of. Now-a-days, films seldom get enriched by such performances. Dr. Lecter plays on a piano after committing a murder (a classic example of contrapuntal sound). Since when poetic serial killers started to win Oscars? Well, this was the case with this brutal and haunting psychological thriller.
The presenter at the Oscars (1992) dressed like Dr. Hannibal Lecter to pay his rich tributes. It is undoubtedly a masterpiece in crime-drama. Dr. Hannibal Lecter continues to scare its viewers. The film’s chills, innovative camera-work, use of metaphors and close-up shots (prison scene featuring Hopkins and Foster) catapulted Demme to superstardom (one of America’s most talented directors).
Ironically, this gritty crime-drama was released on the day of love (Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1991). The Silence of the Lambs is Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.