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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Silence of the Lambs


Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn and Ted Levine
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £22.99
Certificate: 18
Available 04 May 2009

Clarice Starling is a young, ambitious FBI student who is near to graduating when her boss asks her to help track down a serial killer. Starling's job is simple - get the incarcerated ex-psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter to look at the case files to see if he can get into the mind of the killer as he is the only one who is likely to be able to understand the killer's mind and motive. Lecter agrees to help Starling, but he wants something from her first. She must confide in him her deepest secrets before he is truly willing to trust her...

The Silence of the Lambs was originally released in 1991. I doubt that there's anyone out there that hasn't seen the movie. What surprised me most about watching this film after so long, was how on Earth it managed to sweep the Academy Awards, winning five Oscars. It's a good film, but it's certainly not award winning material. Anthony Hopkins's screen time totals about 15 minutes so I've no idea how he managed to even get nominated, let alone win, for an award.

Hopkins's portrayal of Hannibal Lecter is a little over the top to be honest. He's truly creepy - not the sort of person you'd trust as a psychiatrist. While this heightens the tension of his scenes, you can't help thinking that he's too creepy to have actually had a practice with paying patients in the first place.

The director, Jonathan Demme, originally chose Hopkins for the role as he liked what he did with his character, Dr. Frederick Treves, in The Elephant Man (1979). I can't help but think that it was something like this that Demme was planning for Lecter - a man you can't believe would be so twisted and violent. Instead we get a sort of pantomime villain who just, and only just, stays this side of plausible.

Extras include Breaking the Silence (picture in picture featurette that play the movie and every now and then a small window opens on the screen to provide information from the cast and crew as well as the occasional text based information); Understanding the Madness (19 min, 35 sec); Inside the Labyrinth: Making of The Silence of the Lambs (1 hr, 06 min, 28 sec 3-part featurette. This is interesting for those who are unfamiliar with the origins of the movie as it reveals that Gene Hackman was originally onboard to produce, direct and star, but he backed out when he realised how violent it was going to be. It also reveals that Michelle Pfeiffer also turned down the role of Starling for the same reasons as Hackman. I also couldn't help but feel sorry for poor Ted Levine. Firstly he really seemed unnerved by his character, and secondly his character managed to get the backs up of the gay community - even though his character wasn't gay - something he deeply regrets); The Silence of the Lambs: Page to Screen (41 min, 17 sec two-part featurette which charts the history of the book all the way through to the movie's completion. It was interesting to hear that Thomas Harris is still a recluse and refused to be involved in the movie - though he appears to have liked the end result. Another interesting aspect is how Scott Glenn spent a few days with the FBI guy whose job it is to track real serial killers. Afterwards Glenn thanked him for letting him see his world, to which he replied that Glenn had no idea what it was really like, but if he really wanted to he would give him a taste. He let Glenn hear tapes of children who were tortured and killed and then said to Scott "Now you know what sort of World I have to live in"); Scoring the Silence (16 min look at the process of scoring the movie); Original '91 Making of Featurette (8 min, 07 sec); Deleted Scenes (20 min, 29 sec); Outtakes Reel (1 min, 46 sec); Anthony Hopkins Phone Message (34 sec); TV Spots (1 min, 49 sec) and Theatrical and Teaser Trailers.

The difference in quality between the DVD and Blu-ray is questionable and as you don't get any extras than was previously available on the Definitive Edition 2-disc DVD release (which is now available to buy new from most online stores for under £5) I can't help feeling that yet again Blu-ray customers are getting a raw deal. While the movie is an easy 8/10, purchasing it in this format is a really a bit of a waste of money.

Only buy this if you don't own a DVD player and you are the world's biggest fan of the movie.


Darren Rea

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