4 thoughts on “The Silence of the Lambs (movie)–Group 4

  1. Alexander Merrill

    I think that the most meaningful difference between the book and movie is what Henry and Gordon talked about, as I do think it really changes the way in which Lecter and Starling’s relationship ends. Lecter’s note that she will always be chasing a way to “silence the lambs” feels very in line with their relationship, however the phone call that takes place in the movie feels more gimmicky to me – especially due to the comment about eating an old friend for dinner.

    Another difference that I noticed was the lack of Jack Crawford’s sick wife in the movie. I don’t think she was ever even mentioned in the film. I felt that the exploration of Crawford’s relationship with his wife did a lot to add depth to Crawford’s character, however in the movie that depth is lacking. This is in line with the rest of the movie however, since I feel as though the movie left out a lot of the detail of the dynamics and inner-workings of the FBI and the people Starling works with, while the novel gave a look into the politics and dynamics of the FBI, or at least the part of it that is concerned with these murders.

  2. Jacob Morton

    The relationship between Lecter and Barney–though hinted at–is far less explored. One of the most interesting scenes in the novel for me was when Lecter said goodbye to Barney–thanking him for the gentility in his treatment of inmates. Barney doesn’t play much of a role in the film. In the beginning, he offers Starling words of support when she embarks on her first interview with Lecter. “You’ll do fine,” she assures her–a far cry from the somewhat condescendingly amused demeanor he is described as having towards Starling when he lets her in. As the novel progresses, we explore Barney’s treatment of Lecter in greater detail–and are shown how his attitude differs from Chilton. It is thusly not too surprising when Lecter expresses his appreciation. In the film, Lecter’s interactions with Barney are minimal; there’s the moment the lights are switched on in his cell and he states, “Thank you, Barney,” and the scene in which Chilton asks Barney to leave him and Lecter alone and the latter whispers “Barney.” Again, no direct gratitude is ever expressed–but it’s lightly hinted at in accordance to the condensed narrative the film format is left with. Similarly, in the novel, Lecter asks Barney to say goodbye to Sammie for him–a request that substantiates the almost doctor-patient relationship the two characters briefly maintained. In the film, Sammie never appears.

  3. Henry Mooers

    One of the major differences between the two came at their respective endings.

    At the end of the film, Hannibal calls Clarice and reassures her that he won’t pursue her. Further, he tells her not to follow him on his pursuit of Chilton. The conversation ends there.

    In the book, Hannibal also reassures Clarice against his following her. However, rather than asking her to not follow him, he suggests that she will never be able to find any peace for herself.

    I saw this as a crucial change because it completely, at least in my view, changes the dynamic between Hannibal and Clarice. In one case, the film, the two part ways without any sort of malevolence. In the other case, its almost like Hannibal wants to leave Clarice with a sort of reminder of him by suggesting that she won’t be able to find peace otherwise. In one depiction, Hannibal is shown to be solely determined to eat Chilton. His mind is utterly focused on that goal. In the other depiction, the book, his mind seems to be more scattered in terms of his next steps.

    1. Gordon Lewis

      Much like yourself, Henry, I was fascinated by how Demme decided to treat the ending of the flim compared to how it was originally written in the book.

      Of course, in the film we see Lecter in a cheesy wig, trench coat, and fedora as he speaks to Clarice over the phone about “having an old friend for dinner”. This is quite the departure from the way Dr. Lecter makes his exit in the book – you’re right, I think, when you say it changes the dynamic between Clarice and Dr. Lecter, but I’d even go one step further and argue that it feels like it changes Dr. Lecter’s character, too, as well as the overall message of the end of the book itself.

      In the book, we see Dr. Lecter in a hotel suite altering his appearance and getting his affairs in order for what appears to be a meticulously thought out contingency plan. It is here that he writes a letter to Clarice, with the message being (like Henry said) that she exists inside a prison of her own mind more absolute than any facility Dr. Lecter himself could ever find himself in, and that she will continue to hunt down serial murderers like Gumb because it is the only way she knows how to deal with her own trauma. All of this nuance is absent in the film, and instead we get an abridged version of Dr. Lecter’s letter to Clarice in the form of their brief phone conversation.

      Looking at the slides about how the movie can be viewed as a critique of the male gaze, I am wondering if this ending change was a deliberate move towards that end. However, I’m not sure if I fully understand the decision after just one viewing of the film. Perhaps I missed something.

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