The Silence of the Lambs - Blu-ray Review

5 stars

A small little underdog of a movie: it’s hard to believe but that’s exactly what Silence of the Lambs was. It was a film nobody wanted to make. Gene Hackman, who had paid for half the rights, bowed out, claiming it was too violent; Michelle Pfeiffer rejected the soon to be Oscar-winning role for the same reason. It was a follow up of sorts to Thomas Harris’s book, Red Dragon, which had already been adapted cinematically (Manhunter), and, although critically adored, did little to ignite the box office. Nothing about this project sent forewarning that a classic was about to be made.

Jonathan Demme’s first foray into the thriller is considered by most to be a mould-breaker: here we’re presented with a strong female protagonist’s role, traditionally tailored for a male. Archetypal, it is her journey to walk into the lion’s den and rescue the princess. Because she is a woman—a role so easily made to fit the victim, not the victor—her fish out of water presence in this oppressively dark and violent world does with ease what a male protagonist must almost overdo to make his journey compelling: make the threat to them palpable.

Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is a headstrong, diligent cadet in training at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She is summoned by her mentor, Crawford, to interview the captured serial killer Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), under the unwitting pretext of a general profiling questionnaire. What this leads to is a showdown with an active serial killer by the name of Buffalo Bill, a sadistic butcher of women. During the course of this investigation, Clarice must let the utterly insane Dr Lecter further and further inside her mind to save the next abductee from becoming Bill’s next victim.

This film’s every frame oozes tension and terror. It’s unrelenting in its exposure of the crimes these offenders commit, the worlds they inhabit and the banality they prey from, with its choice of locations, its framing, and its drab, understated treatment of the visuals. It grounds the film in a reality of sorts that allows for these larger than life monsters to terrify characters we can instantly relate to, and it does it in such a masterfully subtle way you are never conscious of it. You’re completely immersed in Starling’s plight, both to catch the killer and to prove herself in a man’s world with dignity.

Silence of the Lambs took out the ‘big five’ at the Oscars the following year, but it is ultimately Anthony Hopkin’s iconic turn as Hannibal that wins the day here. It is Foster’s movie, narratively speaking, and she holds her own in each and every scene, but SOTL’s tantalizing moments with Dr Lecter are just enough to enthral and keep you wanting more. He is pitch-perfect in the role and one of the greatest immersions of actor to character that has ever been seen.

In fact, all the actors in this cast play their parts with convincing relish, from Scott Glenn’s clinical Crawford and Ted Levine’s terrifying Buffalo Bill to Anthony Heald’s deliciously sleazy Dr Chilton. As we watch Starling navigate her way through them to save the day, everyone is so damn good they hold your attention.

The writing, adapted from Harris’s novel by Ted Tally, is succinct but never simple; its subtext is complex and open to many interpretations, while never getting bogged down in the police procedural element of the story. Deceptively simple in plot, the film’s many turns creep up on you and never fail satisfy.

This is a masterwork in tension, in horror, in good vs. evil. It possesses one of the greatest roles ever written for a woman, and gave birth to one of the 20th Century’s most iconic and beloved movie villains in Hannibal. There have been several instalments since this one, but none match its class and accomplishment.

A must see movie before you die.

Film Details

The Silence of the Lambs - Blu-ray ReviewClassification: 18.
114 mins.
: Jonathan Demme
Writer: Ted Tally
Jodie Foster; Anthony Hopkins; Ted Levine; Lawrence A. Bonney
Genre: Thriller | Drama
To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Now it places the lotion in the basket."
Orion Pictures Corporation
Official Site:
Release Date: February 14, 1991
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 1, 2013

Synopsis: Young FBI agent Clarice Starling is assigned to help find a missing woman to save her from a psychopathic serial killer who skins his victims. Clarice attempts to gain a better insight into the twisted mind of the killer by talking to another psychopath Hannibal Lecter, who used to be a respected psychiatrist. FBI agent Jack Crawford believes that Lecter, who is also a very powerful and clever mind manipulator, has the answers to their questions and can help locate the killer. However, Clarice must first gain Lecter's confidence before the inmate will give away any information.

Blu-ray Review

The Silence of the Lambs - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

The Silence of the Lambs - Limited Edition Steelbook (Blu-ray + DVD) [1991]

Available on Blu-ray - April 1, 2013
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: English SDH, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin, Thai
Audio: English DTS-hd Master audio 5.1; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live; Blu-ray 3D
Region Encoding: B/2

This is the same version that’s been out for years, repackaged in a shiny new steelbook, which is disappointing. Although this film is intentionally supposed to be drab and unrefined, the MPEG-2 1080p picture shows some jarring levels of noise and loss of detail in many of the darker lit scenes. It could use a fresh 4K scan from the camera neg & a good clean up from restorers. Sound is also a mediocre and muddy DTS-HD lossless audio mix. Extras, although feature length & copious, are dated, mostly ported over from the DVD, and in desperate need of contemporising. This is simply a cash-in for fans of steelbooks, which, admittedly, is a nice presentation. It’s a shame the same care hasn’t been given the actual movie.



  • The studs responsible for this flesh-fest provide a pretty thorough commentary about the film. Director Alexandre Aja, Producer Grégory Levasseur, and Producer Alix Taylor provide the light-hearted analysis, knowing exactly what they are participating in: Spring Break fun.

Special Features:

  • Breaking the Silence
  • Understanding the Madness
  • Inside the Labyrinth: Making of 'The Silence of the Lambs
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Page to Screen
  • Scoring the Silence
  • Original 1991 'Making Of' Featurette
  • Twenty deleted scenes
  • TV spots
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer

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