Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

In Jonathan Demme's Best Picture winning film:

  • one of the film's earliest scenes was the tense entry of FBI trainee agent Clarice Starling (Oscar-winning Jodie Foster) into a high-security area, with a row of underground Baltimore prison cells (where she was abused by prisoner Miggs (Stuart Rudin))
  • Clarice first met with the chilling, repellent, super-intelligent, cold-eyed and intriguing Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins) - who stood there with his head tilted and then requested that she come "Clos-er" to show her credentials
  • the serial killer Lecter delivered many famous lines: "Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have, instead of a view" - "You use Evian skin cream and sometimes you wear L'air du Temps - but not today" - "You're so-o ambitious, aren't you? You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube..."
  • Lecter told about his refined taste in cruelty - with the sound effect of sifting through his teeth as he infamously described one of his earlier cannibalistic murders: "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chi-an-ti" - fpt-fpt-fpt''
  • there were multiple scenes of the intense, seductive discussions-interrogations at his jail cell between Lecter and Clarice - including her confession about failing to rescue a lamb from the slaughter - as the camera moved in for intense close-ups
  • Lecter was muzzled with a face mask restraint for his meeting on the tarmack at the Memphis Int'l Airport with Senator Ruth Martin (Diane Baker), the mother of Buffalo Bill's 25 year-old kidnapped victim Catherine Martin (Brooke Smith); he was intensely insulting to the Tennessee junior senator, asking questions such as: "Tell me, Senator. Did you nurse Catherine yourself?...Did you breast-feed her?...Toughened your nipples, didn't it?....Amputate a man's leg, and he can still feel it tickling. Tell me, Mum. When your little girl's on the slab, where will it tickle you?"; after their stark conversation, Lecter also added: "Oh, and Senator, just one more thing. (The Senator turned back) Love your suit!"
  • at the Shelby County Courthouse, in the middle of the Historical Society Room on the fifth floor, a massive temporary iron cage was set up to hold Lecter; during meal service followed by a murderous rampage, Lecter lunged at Sgt. Pembry (Alex Coleman) with bloody, face-eating cannibalism, and also mercilessly beat to death the second guard Sgt. Boyle (Charles Napier) with a police riot baton; after the two brutal attacks, the camera panned over the blood-flecked food tray over to the cassette player, where Lecter relaxed afterwards to Bach's Goldberg Variations
Sgt. Jim Pembry's Cannibalistic Demise by Hannibal Lecter, and Then His Brutal Attack on Sgt. Boyle with a Police Riot Baton
  • later, officers found the bloody and savaged body of Sgt. Boyle strung up high on the cell bars like Christ, with a carved-away abdomen. "Sgt. Pembry," with an unrecognizable, gory face, lay bloodied on the floor (and remarkably was still alive), and Lecter appeared to be missing
Lecter Cleverly Impersonating Mutilated Sgt. Pembry in Ambulance
  • the near-dead officer Pembry, overwhelmed by a seizure, was whisked away to the elevator on a stretcher and put in an ambulance to be driven away; meanwhile, SWAT team members saw a distant figure dressed like Lecter lying bloodied atop the elevator and believed that Lecter was dead; but the clever Lecter had dressed himself up as Pembry with a bloodied and lacerated face, and then had fooled the officers by disguising himself as the victim Pembry in the ambulance in order to escape - and kill the paramedic
  • meanwhile, Clarice entered into the home of the serial killer Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb (Ted Levine) and was stalked from Bill's POV with night-goggles
Killing of Serial Murderer Jamie Gumb (Buffalo Bill) in the Dark
  • the real curtain-closing climax of the film came after Clarice graduated from the FBI Academy; she received a long distance phone call from Hannibal Lecter at-large, disguised and calling from a phone at an open-air cafe at a tropical airport terminal (in the Bahamas?). He assured her that he wouldn't pursue her: "I have no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world's more interesting with you in it. Say, you take care now to extend me the same courtesy." She responded: "You know I can't make that promise." Lecter ended their short phone call with a famous farewell line - his final words were about literally dining 'with' Dr. Chilton: "I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye."

Lecter Concluding Phone Call to Clarice
  • Lecter noticed that his arch-nemesis, the despicable Dr. Frederick Chilton (Anthony Heald) was deplaning - Chilton was Lecter's next victim. Lecter put on a Panama hat and with his disguise, he slowly walked into the crowded, narrow street of the Caribbean village and disappeared while following Chilton.

The First Meeting Between
Lecter and Clarice

Lecter Strapped Down With Muzzled Hockey Face Mask Before Meeting with Senator Martin

Lecter Relaxing and Listening to Bach

Results of Sgt. Boyle's Beating and 'Crucifixion'


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