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Silence of the Lambs (CE)
DVD disk
02.13.2007 By: Jason Adams
Silence of the Lambs (CE) order
Director:
Jonathan Demme

Actors:
Jodie Foster
Anthony Hopkins
Ted Levine

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In order to catch a serial killer and save his latest victim, a rookie FBI agent must seek the assistance of another murderer—a brilliant, psychotic cannibal named Hannibal.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Yes, it’s a great movie. I remember watching it as a kid (probably a bad idea) and again in high school, but it wasn’t until I looked at it with a critical eye this time around that I realized just how effective and near-perfect a thriller SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is. The plot structure, the pacing and tension, the developed characters, Demme’s visual acumen—everything works to create a great blend of suspense and horror that holds up 15 years later. Even a couple of the more convenient plot points are easier to overlook because it’s all put together so well.

The two main performances are worthy of the golden statues they received, but it’s the chemistry between Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster that makes the hero/villain dichotomy really special, a chemistry lacking with Julianne Moore or Ed Norton in the sequels. Hopkins on his own though is enough to love SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. His Hannibal Lecter was a true psychotic force—dangerous and unpredictable, but fascinating to watch. Notice I said “fascinating” and not “likable” or “huggable,” as his character turned out to be in the later books and movies. People often forget that Hannibal is not the focus of this movie (he’s only seen onscreen for 16 minutes), but that’s because Hopkins’ performance is so magnetic and strong that you feel his presence in every scene.

Jonathan Demme’s direction is tight and effective. Howard Shore’s score does wonders in heightening the tense mood. The supporting actors do great work. (Now anytime I see Ted Levine on “Monk” I unconsciously yell “Mangina!”) I’m trying to think of one thing to complain about and I can’t come up with anything. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is just a great, rewatchable thriller.
THE EXTRAS
This two-disc Collector’s Edition marks the third incarnation of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS on DVD, the previous ones being a 1998 Criterion Edition and a 2001 single-disc Special Edition. While it’s missing a couple of features from the Criterion (a commentary and storyboard-to-film comparison) due to rights issues, overall this new version has a few more in-depth extras than either of its predecessors. (A * designates a feature new to this disc.)

Inside the Labyrinth: The Making of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1:03:14): A very impressive documentary on the entire mythology and careful research behind film. Interviews with cast, crew and serial killer experts show the accuracy the film achieved in portraying its story.

*THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS: From Page to Screen (41:17): A two part feature hosted by Peter Gallagher(?!), looking at the original novel by Thomas Harrris (who hasn’t done an interview or media appearance in 20 years) and how it was adapted to the screen by Ted Tally. A lot of interesting trivia about the history of the project is revealed (i.e. Gene Hackman originally owned the rights to SOTL and was planning to write/direct/star in it.)

*Jonathan Demme and Jodie Foster (52:36): A three-part documentary featuring extensive interviews with both the director and star, who talk about why they each wanted to make the film and take you through the production.

*Scoring The Silence (15:21): Howard Shore’s score adds an insane amount to the ominous mood of the film. Here we get an interview with the man and some insight in to its creation.

Original 1991 Making Of Featurette (8:08): It shows it’s age, but it’s fun to see the actors almost 20 years younger.

Deleted Scenes (20:28): 22 short scenes. A lot of them focus on the relationship between Starling and Jack Crawford, which is a bigger part of the book. You also get to see more of the fantastic Roger Corman. (Yes, that Roger Corman.)

Outtakes (1:47): It’s weird watching silly outtakes for an extremely serious movie, but seeing a blood soaked Anthony Hopkins do a Rocky Balboa impersonation…solid gold hilarity.

*Anthony Hopkins Phone Message (0:31): Record this on your phone if you want to have Hannibal Lecter take your messages with some fava beans and a nice Courvoisier. (Wait…)

Also: a large Photo Gallery, over ten TV Spots, two Trailers, some Previews and a few of Hannibal’s favorite gourmet Recipes. (Most include fava beans. How clever.) You also get a web-exclusive Sneak Peek at the atrocious looking HANNIBAL RISING.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is one of only three movies to win the Big Five Oscars (Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay and Picture) and it deserves each one. I don’t know why I never picked up a copy of the DVD before, but I’m glad I waited. I feel dirty saying this, since this Collector’s Edition is a shameless triple dip to promote the new Hannibal movie, but it actually is the most comprehensive SILENCE OF THE LAMBS DVD yet.

Extra Tidbit: According the infallible IMDB, John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro and Louis Gossett Jr. were all considered for the role of Hannibal Lecter before Sir Anthony Hopkins. Dude, Louis Gossett Jr. … I would so pay money to see that.
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