4 thoughts on “The Silence of the Lambs–Movie Adaptation

  1. John Langerman

    My group presented on Silence of the Lambs, so I’m extremely interested in the topic and intrigued by the question of what the biggest difference between the movie and the book was. To me however, this question is extremely easy and is the discussion of Clarice’s backstory. To go into more depth about both I will first discuss in detail the portrayal of the backstory in the book and then in the movie.
    The book is extremely interesting largely because in many ways, Clarice’s backstory is in many ways its own story. Readers learn in great depth about her relationship with her father, why she is an FBI agent and much more. I mentioned this in class but when Christina and many others watched the movie for the first time, it was unclear as to why Clarice is an FBI agent and why she immediately goes to a shooting range after having a childhood flashback, but after reading the book these people know why. The book goes into great detail in the back story. Additionally, the book is much more based in the medical side of psychology. While Lector is still a creepy character he is much more normal and asks more medically related questions. This is due to the fact that the book is rooted in anti-psychology and instead is much more based in medicine which was common during this time. All in all the novel is extremely interesting and provides a much different perspective than the movie does.
    On that note, the reason for this difference is in the movie on the other hand viewers are limited to brief flashbacks and the invasive questions asked about Lector. At the very start of the scene we are immediately hit with Lector’s invasiveness when he asks questions such as, “You’re the daughter of white trash aren’t you.” This is the first time that we are introduced to the backstory and it isn’t even done by choice—it is forced out of her. While from just watching the movie we do not know why this is so sad and hard for her we know that it clearly is because she immediately leaves the scene crying and with a flashback to presumably a happier childhood. This flashback however reveals her father’s significance in her life but in one particular scene viewers are left to question how influential her father truly was. More specifically, there is evidence that he may not have been as good of a cop as she suggested.
    One final point to discuss is which framing is more powerful. In my opinion, despite the book going into more detail, being able to see the flashbacks to Clarice’s childhood is more powerful for me. I think this is because seeing it in a movie allows me to visualize which is much more powerful than imagining which is what I’m forced to do with the book. All in all this was a super interesting movie and book and Im excited to hear other’s thoughts.

  2. Alexander Tieberg

    One difference that I noticed after I finished the film was that Crawford’s role seemed much more diminished in the film than in the book. He still played the core role of recruiting Starling and letting her work with both Lecter and the Buffalo Bill case, which is central to the story in both mediums. However, there is no mention of his sick wife in the film, and there doesn’t seem to be any pressure on him to be removed from the case. In a sense, Crawford was a conduit between Starling and Lecter, but Crawford and Starling never talked about the external pressures that were a big part of their working relationship in the book. Viewers were never exposed to Crawford’s inner struggles in the film, he was just there to mentor Starling and get her on the case.

    In the movie, Starling seemed to have more agency to study Buffalo Bill and Lecter and wasn’t restricted by some of the forces that held her back in the book. The fact that she was at Quantico seemed to be more minor in the film than in the book. Throughout the book, Starling was stressed about how much schoolwork and training she was missing, and her future was threatened by this, but that doesn’t really get mentioned in the film. This can be related to the point above that she wasn’t as restricted in her ability to track Buffalo Bill in the movie, letting the viewers focus on what she was doing regarding Buffalo Bill and Lecter rather than what was holding her back.

  3. Jenna McNicholas

    One major change that I noticed right away was the scene when Clarice and Lecter first met. I thought that she frightened so much easier in the movie than in the book. This sets up a totally different power dynamic between her and Lecter. In the movie, Lecter sees her weak, and the instance between Lecter and Clarice after Miggs flicks cum on her is different as well. Clarice gets really close up to the glass and the two are yelling at each other in a scene that ends up being very intense, and kind of weird honestly. I thought it was weird how close she got to the glass in the movie, and it presents a very strange dynamic between the two of them. In the book, when Lecter and Clarice meet for the first time, it is a lot more formal and I think that Clarice was a lot tougher and did not scare easily, which was one of the reasons that Lecter liked her so much. She was different. In the movie, it is less clear why Lecter takes a liking to Clarice because I don’t think she gives off the same effect as she does in the book.

    1. Casey O'Neill

      I agree with Jenna in that Clarice seems much less capable in the movie than in the book. While it is a bit confusing as to why Crawford chooses Starling to assist on the investigations with Lecter and Buffalo Bill, I found it even more apparent in the film. There are many examples of this in the film, such as how Starling doesn’t end up photographing the body taken out of the river, how she seems to be incapable in her FBI Academy class and so on. One thing in particular that I think Jenna is starting to touch on is how emotional Starling is made in the film. In the book, it is often her anger that is addressed and particularly the ways in which she manages her frustration. However in the movie particularly after the scene Jenna refers to with Miggs, Starling begins to cry and break down, rather than channel her frustration as she does in the book. It seems as though Starling was made into a more fragile character in the movie, assuming more of a submissive female role that she doesn’t seem to carry as much in the book.

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