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The Silence Of The Lambs (film analysis)
Transcript of The Silence Of The Lambs (film analysis)
Mise En Scene
The soundtrack for The Silence Of The Lambs was composed by Howard Shore. When making the music for the film, Shore said "I tried to make the music just fit in. When you watch the movie you are not aware of the music. You get your feelings from all elements simultaneously, cinematography, lighting costumes, acting and music."
Throughout the film, the music used creates a suspenseful and thrilling atmosphere, perfect for a film of this genre, making the audience feel on
edge and tense. In addition to using an orchestra to record the music for the film, various sound effects were used as well, such as heavy breathing, a heart monitor and barking, to add to the tense atmosphere, working in conjunction with the moving image on screen.
The use of characters costumes throughout The Silence Of The Lambs is key to the characteristics and personality of the characters, especially Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal wears dark and bland clothing due to his accommodation in the prison, which makes it clear to the audience of his position and possibly his mental state. As well as this, the plain, simple, black and blue clothing is conventional for the thriller genre, emphasising the dark themes of the film. In addition, Hannibal also wears a face mask, only restricting his face and mouth. This draws attention to the fact that he is not in a stable mental state, emphasising the danger and fear he brings to others. In contrast to this, Clarice Starling wears formal attire, which would usually be associated with a strong and confident woman, however in the case of Clarice, her sartorial choices, emphasise her reserved and austere personality. This therefore makes her appear as
Released: Friday, 31st May, 1991
Vol XCIII, No. 311
Camera Shots, Angles and Movements
Various camera shots, angles and movements are used throughout The Silence Of The Lambs. For example, during the first meeting between Clarice and Hannibal, he enters into the scene through a tracking point of view shot. This shot allows the audience to see his full figure, emphasising the power he possesses, standing strong and confident in the middle of his cell, pausing momentarily to further highlight this. This is then followed by a succession of extreme close up shots of both Hannibal and Clarice, however both create a different mood. When focusing on Hannibal an uncomfortable, uneasy atmosphere is created, making it clear to the audience of his domineering personality, which is also made clear due to the fact that he walks towards the camera, rather than it zooming in on him. This creates a significantly invasive
THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
Grossed: $272.7 million
Running Time: 2h 18min
as Clarice Starling
as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
as Jack Crawford
as Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb
as Frederick Chilton
as Catherine Martin
as Senator Ruth Martin
as Ardelia Mapp
as Barney Matthews
as Lieutenant Boyle
The Silence Of The Lambs is a thriller film directed by Jonathon Demme, based on the novel of the same written by Thomas Harris in 1988. The film follows the story of an FBI trainee in seek of a serial killer with the help of a cannibal.
A young student at the FBI training academy, Clarice Starling, is asked to work on a case to find the notorious serial killer, Buffalo Bill. However, in order to do so, she must enforce the help of Dr. Hannibal Lecter; a once respected psychiatrist who has been imprisoned for a number of acts of murder and cannibalism, as he may have some vital information on the whereabouts of Buffalo Bill and an insight into the case. As the case is investigated, Starling reveals details of her traumatic childhood to Lecter in exchange for more details, and feels that if she solves the case those problems will be solved too. The case unfolds and various clues are found, leading them closer and closer to the killer.
Best Actress in a Motion Picture
British Academy Award
Best Actor in a Leading Role
As well as this, it was the third film ever to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Throughout The Silence Of The Lambs, editing is effectively used to create tense and suspenseful moments. Frequently throughout the film, shot reverse shots are used during the conversational scenes between Clarice and Hannibal. This simple editing technique is effective during these scenes, emphasising the importance of the dialogue, without complicated fast editing which would distract the audience from the scene.
As well as this, parallel editing is used during the film to a create suspenseful atmosphere. In the clip to the right we can see an example of this. This editing technique builds tension and suspense in the scene, hinting to the audience that something is going to happen, building to the climax when the FBI agents break into the house.
and tense atmosphere to the scene, staring directly into the camera, involving the audience in the scene and creating discomfort. However Clarice is seen as weaker and more vulnerable. In addition to this, high angle shots, although not extremely noticeable, are used to convey Hannibal’s power, superiority and dominance over Clarice, as well as highlighting how inferior she feels in his presence.
Another example of when camera angles were used effectively is when Clarice is searching the basement of Buffalo Bill's house. As this is happening, the shots are mostly from the objective angle, watching her movements, however at the most tense and suspenseful moments the camera angle switches to point of view shots to emphasise agent Starling's fear as she is entering the different rooms. Point of view shots are also used for Bill through night vision goggles, immersing the audience in the scene as he watches Clarice search through the rooms.
weaker and more vulnerable compared to Hannibal, who seems much more casual and comfortable, which is intimidating to her.
The setting of the prison also creates a dark and tense atmosphere to the film. As well as immediately conveying to the audience that Hannibal is a criminal, the use of the prison, with basic bare stone walls, also depicts his cell as almost very natural and showing Hannibal's animalistic side of his personality. In addition this, the corridor in which Clarice stands and talks to Hannibal is very dark and intimidating, with metal and wire materials, creating a sense of fear in the audience, as it is an uncomfortable location.
As well as this, low key lighting and shadows are used throughout to create a dark and mysterious atmosphere, with Clarice in the shadows, showing her as more vulnerable and scared of Hannibal.
example of parallel editing
example of shot reverse shot