Produced in 1991 and directed by Jonathan Demme, this terrifying film was based on a novel of the same name written by Thomas Harris. The plot centers on a young and brilliant FBI agent, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), and her quest to save a missing woman from the grasp of a psychopathic killer with the help of another killer, Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). This film is one of only three in the history of the cinema to win the five top Oscars (Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture and Best Screenplay). The other two films were “ It Happened One Night” (1934) and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975).
A powerful masterpiece of terror, this film is superb on many levels, not the least of which is the interaction between Foster’s character and Hopkins’s, all the more amazing because they only share a few scenes. Hopkins’s appearance totals little more than 16 minutes of screen time, and comprises the shortest performance on record to ever win a leading actor Oscar. He described the voice he perfected for Hannibal Lecher as a combination of Truman Capote and Katherine Hepburn!
An excellent supporting cast hallmarks the film. Serial killer, Buffalo Bill (played deftly by Ted Levine), is the real life combination of three actual serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used a cast on his arm to lure women into his car and Gary Heidnick who kept kidnapped women in a pit in his basement. Although the terror never stops for an instant, it does have its humorous moments, notably a copy of “Bon Appetit” magazine that can be seen in Lecter’s temporary cell.
This film is a must see for all lovers of the thriller genre. But prepare for a nightmare or two afterwards. It is inevitable.