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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 8/7/98



The Silence of the Lambs
1991 (1997) - Orion (Image)

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

Film Rating: A+
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): D/B+/F-
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?

Specs and Features

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), Close Captioned

Review

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 acting.

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.

Bottom line

Why buy a standard movie only edition, when The Criterion Collection edition is out? That's all I'm sayin'.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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