What you may not know about ‘The Silence of the Lambs’

On January 30, 1991, one of the most influential films of the last three decades was premiered at a gala in New York.


On January 30, 1991, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, one of the most significant and influential films of the last three decades, premiered at a gala in New York. The film was presented two weeks later at the Berlin Film Festival, where it was awarded the Silver Bear. He arrived in Spain on September 6. And in 1992, when many had already forgotten about her, she swept the Oscars winning the statuette for best film, best director, best leading actor (Anthony Hopkins) and best screenplay, and was nominated for an Oscar for best editing and best sound.

Based on a cult novel by Thomas Harris, ‘The Silence of the Innocents’, where the writer developed a shocking character, Hannibal, nicknamed ‘the cannibal’, appeared in a previous novel. The director Jonathan Demme (who died months ago) gave the film a prodigious rhythm, which hardly gives the viewer time to reflect on the information that is being provided. But 30 years later there are still very unknown aspects of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’.

As is known, the film had its sequels (‘Hannibal’ (Ridley Scott, 2001), ‘The red dragon’ (2002, Brett Ratner) and ‘Hannibal, the origin of evil’ (Peter Webber, 2007), the last two But what is not so well known is that the character of Hannibal Lecter had already appeared in a previous film, then called Hannibal Lecktor and played by Brian Cox, from 1986, which was titled ‘Manhunter’, directed by Michael Mann, and also based on a novel by Thomas Harris, and featured an NBC television series “Hannibal” that ran for three seasons, starring Mads Mikkelsen from Denmark as Dr. Lecter.

Anthony Hopkins believed, before reading the script, and just because of the title alone, that it was a children’s film, but when he opened it he realized what he had in hand, thinking to himself that “it is the best script I have ever read. », Accepting the role without hesitation. For the same, he prepared himself by asking for a tight prison suit and a voice worked so that it had a metallic tinge. His interpretation was based on two pillars: HAL 9000, the supercomputer from the movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ for its robotic touch, and on Christopher Fettes, a professor he had at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art who ‘had a voice sharp and cut you into pieces. But before Hopkins, other actors had a good chance of taking over the character of Hannibal Lecter: Gene Hackman (who ignored the project when he won the Oscar for ‘Burning Mississippi’), Robert Duvall (the one who was closest, but who did not convince Jonathan Demme), Sean Connery, John Hurt, Dustin Hoffman, Patrick Stewart, Louis Gossett, Jr., Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro or Jeremy Irons. The choice of Hopkins was a personal gamble by Demme, as the actor was much more pigeonholed into historical characters of great dramatic intensity. Hopkins won the Oscar by appearing only a total of 16 minutes in the film.

Also for Clarice Starling, before Jodie Foster there were several candidates: Michelle Pfeiffer (who was Demme’s first choice), Kim Basinger, Andie MacDowell, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Meg Ryan or Melanie Griffith. Foster was eventually chosen on the recommendation of screenwriter Ted Tally, who was his favorite.

The film is full of cameos, not too well known: actor and singer Chris Isaak as a member of SWAT; directors Roger Corman (playing an FBI director) and George A. Romero (as a federal agent in Memphis); screenwriter Ted Tally (as a cop); producer Kenneth Utt turned forensic judge; and even director Jonathan Demme himself, who can be distinguished from the crowd, in the final shot of the film.

During filming there were some improvisations by the actors. The most prominent is that of Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Lecter, who after describing how he ate a victim’s liver “accompanied by beans and a good Chianti,” improvised a strange and disturbing sip, which greatly enriched the character. In the final cut some flash-backs where the girl Clarice ran away with one of the lambs, which Demme considered superfluous, were ruled out.

‘The silence of the lambs’, which is now 30 years old, belongs to the very select club of films that have been included for preservation in the United States National Cinematography Registry carried out by the National Film Conservation Board so that the cinematographic legacy is kept and preserved for posterity in the National Library.


Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Meg Ryan, Melanie Griffith, Kim Basinger, Ridley Scott, Sean Connery, Robert de Niro, Jeremy Irons, FBI Federal Bureau of Investigation


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What you may not know about ‘The Silence of the Lambs’