Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 8/7/98
The Silence of the
1991 (1997) - Orion
review by Todd Doogan,
special to The Digital Bits
A gripping and thoroughly enjoyable decent into hell with a pure
soul as our guide and an evil and enchanting devil to boo at.
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
On all counts other than sound, this is a failed disc. The sound
work is actually very good, but the print seems washed out when
compared to other sources.
Overall Rating: D
This is one great movie, but it's quite simply a flawed disc. With
the bright transfer and lack of any extras the question remains, why
bother when you have the Criterion disc available?
118 Minutes, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided,
single-layered, Snapper packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene
access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0 Surround Sound),
Cinema was given one of it's most endearing anti-heroes in The
Silence Of The Lambs, and somehow we're all the better
for it. Anthony Hopkins injected so much life into the Thomas Harris
creation of Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, that it
earned him a Best Actor Award at the 1991 Academy Awards. But this
film isn't really about awards, is it? Hell, it was released
Valentine's Day weekend in 1991 -- pretty much a suicide move for a
film "wanting" an Academy Award (which proves this film
didn't expect what it got). Who would have ever expected that the
Academy would remember the film as Best Picture almost a year later.
No one. But surprisingly, Hollywood and the mass public embraced
this tale of serial killers, red herrings and a frumpy FBI agent
with a good bag and cheap shoes.
Despite her pedigree and room of awards, Jodie Foster plays her
best character here in this film. Clarice Starling is the classic
screen hero -- woman or not. She goes through obvious growth,
follows her own mind and saves the day -- eventually. Foster took
something that could have been a standard female role and made a
three-dimensional character that people all believe in -- and she
did it with a look, an accent and a quiver. That, my friends, is
Anthony Hopkins took what was a stomach-turning, revolting, little
goblin and made him into one of screens sexiest characters. If it
weren't for the tongue eating and explosive head-crunching temper,
Lecter would be someone we'd all love to have over at our house
entertaining our guests. He's calm, cool and witty. And although
people would say, "Oh, that's horrible that Hollywood would
glorify a character like this." Think for a moment that there's
a reason why serial killers get as close as they do to their
victims. You'd have to be a charming, witty and intelligent guy to
be able to pull off some of the weird crap that goes on in this
world. It may be viewed as a cartoon, but I think that this is more
true to the facts than most people really want to believe.
The Silence Of The Lambs is a
great movie, and great movies make for great DVDs, don't they? This
is not the case here. The Image Entertainment edition is a fine
movie only edition - but then again we are talking DVD here, where
are the extras? Sure, it's widescreen, and the print is clean. And
yeah, the sound is even really nice. But (and isn't there always a
but?) that's it. There is nothing else on this disc. There is no
other language other than English. There are no subtitles, and
though the package claims it I didn't find any captioning.
To be completely honest, and I am a professional critic, so I
should be - the print is really washed out. It's lighter than the
video, theatrical or competing DVD releases. Of particular notice is
the "Cage" sequence in Memphis, where Hannibal is about to
make his break for it. Before Lecter gets his second dinner of the
evening, the camera pans over his tape recorder and the drawing he
made of Clarice the transfer is very white, almost washed out. You
can hardly see the drawing. The following "Escape"
sequence seems sapped of its color. Tak Fujimoto, Demme's Director
of Photography used a red filter over the whole "Elevator"
scene that concludes this sequence, but in this version it looks all
so normal - like someone felt that it was too red, and adjusted to
color to be more photogenic. Sure it's easier to look at, but the
feeling you get is kinda lost with that. It's noticeable, and in a
major way it's a problem, in my opinion. That's not to say the print
is bad, it's not. It is very clean and as I said, easy to look at.
It's just not faithful to the vision of the filmmakers.
Why buy a standard movie only edition, when The Criterion
Collection edition is out? That's all I'm sayin'.