Silence of the Lambs

The main characters are Hannibal, Clarice, Jack Crawford, Dr. Chilton, and Buffalo Bill:

  • Hannibal is an improsoned psychopath who is was a very smart psychiatrist before turning into a cannibal. While in prison he forced to be the Dr. Chilton’s patient. He hates this because Dr Chilton does not show him any respect.
  • Charice is an FBI student who is called into Jack Crawford’s office and given an assignment to interview Hannibal. She sees her work in the FBI as continuing a family tradition started by her late father. She appeals to Hannibal because she is female but also because she is respectful to him and also intelligent. 
  • Jack Crawford is the head of behavioral investigation unit and is working on the Buffalo Bill case. He is out of leads and knows that Hannibal has some answers. He sends Clarice in to talk to Hannibal because she is female and also because she is smart. Because she is innexperienced he also uses her as a tool to communicate with Hannibal unbeknownst to her, at times.

Because Hannibal is in a depraved prison situation with Dr. Chilton as his doctor he is subseptible to the charms of a respectful female. Clarice is subseptible to Hannibel because he acts as a mentor or someone who cares about her advancement in the FBI.  She has no parents, and is an only woman in a male dominated, chauvinistic world.

Because Dr. Chilton would like credit for his work with the prisoners and to possibly have a more prestigious position he is greedy for credit on the Buffalo Bill case and makes himself unlikeable to the audience and to everyone else. Crawford wants to catch Buffalo Bill so he uses Clarice to exploit Hannibal’s weakness. I think there is a high degree of unity in the cause and effect chain which leads us to have clear understanding of each character type.

The Silence of the Lambs mostly has a subjective narration strategy. Most of the scenes are filmed from a POV perspective. There are also mental subjectivity moments such as when Clarice sees herself as a child at her father’s funeral. There are also objective narrative moments such as when Clarice is running through a training course.

The narration is mostly unrestrictive but is also restrictive. It is unrestrictive because we know enough about the situations to have a clear idea as to how they will turn out. For example, when Clarice meets Hannibal for the first time we already know she will be creeped out at some point and that they will also develop a repore. We also know that Clarice will be the one to find Buffalo Bill because she has shown herself to be more tapped into the clues.

However, when Hannibal is playing to the dying officer in the ambulance we are surprised by the restrictive narration strategy used. 

Unlike Limbo or The Big Night, Silence of the Lambs has more closure in its ending. First we believe Hannibal will not bother Clarice. We also know that he will kill Dr. Chilton. Lastly, we understand enough about Clarice that she will work to recapture Hannibal and will likely be successful on some level or it will be her life’s work.

This film has a dual emphasis on plot and thematic development. Because the plot concludes the ending answers to that emphasis. However, Clarice has definitely grown as a detective and her role in the FBI is now established.

Silence of the Lambs is a classical narration with a modernist twist. It is plot driven, yet character development takes a center stage throughout. It is unrestricted narration with a touch of restricted narration at key moments. There is a happy ending until we are reminded of Hannibals escape and eminent threat.

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