Yesterday's column revisited the classic horror film "Psycho," often mentioned by critics as a movie with timeless appeal that was given short shrift at the Academy Awards. As this year's ceremony approaches, it is important to note that sometimes great horror films to earn the Academy's respect. One that did is "The Silence of the Lambs," which came out in 1991 and was influenced by the same true story that the book "Psycho" was based on.
"The Silence of the Lambs" stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, a young, attractive FBI trainee. She is assigned to visit Hannibal Lector (played by Anthony Hopkins), a smug and psychopathic psychiatrist who is incarcerated for murder and cannibalism. The FBI is searching for an ominous serial killer, Buffalo Bill (played by Ted Levine). They believe Hannibal, both as a psychiatrist and a practitioner of murder, can be useful to them. Incarcerated for life, he does not see anything he can gain by sharing his expertise with the authorities. Hoping to tantalize him into cooperation, the FBI dispatches the young, pretty and still unseasoned Clarice to try to ensnare his cooperation.
All the performances in "The Silence of the Lambs" are on the mark. Jodie Foster is perfect in the lead role. She depicts Clarice as very smart, but still resolving issues stemming from her father's death. Anthony Hopkins is also great as the gruesome Hannibal. He brings a lot of insidious charm to the character. Both Foster and Hopkins won Academy Awards for their performances.
Jonathan Demme also won an Oscar for directing the film. His work is very impressive. For example, he does a great job creating buildup to the scene where Hannibal is first introduced. Also, the climax is very intense.
"The Silence of the Lambs" is one of the best films to win the Oscar for Best Picture.