Director: Jonathan Demme
Stars: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
Plot: A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
In preparation for his role, Anthony Hopkins studied files of serial killers. Also, he visited prisons and studied convicted murderers and was present during some court hearings concerning gruesome murderers and serial killings.
Jodie Foster claims that during the first meeting between Lecter and Starling, Anthony Hopkins's mocking of her southern accent was improvised on the spot. Foster's horrified reaction was genuine; she felt personally attacked.
Buffalo Bill is the combination of three real-life serial killers: Ed Gein, who skinned his victims, Ted Bundy, who used the cast on his hand as bait to convince women to get into his van, and Gary Heidnick, who kept women he kidnapped in a pit in his basement.
With 24 minutes and 52 seconds of screen time, Anthony Hopkins's performance in this movie is the 2nd shortest to ever win an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, with David Niven in 'Separate Tables' beating him at 23 minutes and 39 seconds.
The Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the real-life relationship between University of Washington criminology professor and profiler Robert Keppel and serial killer Ted Bundy. Bundy helped Keppel investigate the Green River Serial Killings in Washington.
After Lecter was moved from Baltimore, the plan was to dress him in a yellow or orange jumpsuit. Anthony Hopkins convinced Jonathan Demme and costume designer Colleen Atwood that the character would seem more clinical and unsettling if he was dressed in pure white. Hopkins has since said he got the idea from his fear of dentists.
The production received full co-operation from the FBI as they saw it as a potential recruiting tool to hire more female agents.
When Clarice visits Dr. Hannibal Lecter in his new facility, Lecter insists she continue telling him about her childhood as part of the agreement. Jodie Foster, reluctantly, continues her story about running away. Midway through her confessions, she mentions taking a lamb with her. If one listens closely after she says, "I thought if I could save just one..." a distant sound of something being dropped can be heard in the background. A crewman dropped a wrench during filming. Director Jonathan Demme panicked, thinking it would ruin the scene completely. However, Foster remained in character and continued the story, ultimately convincing Demme to keep the footage. After "Cut" was said, Foster turned her head to the crew and yelled, "What the Hell was that!"
Anthony Hopkins invented the fast, slurping-type sound that Hannibal Lecter does. He did it spontaneously during filming on the set, and everyone thought it was great.
When characters are talking to Starling, they often talk directly to the camera. When she is talking to them, she is always looking slightly off-camera. Director Jonathan Demme has explained that this was done so as the audience would directly experience her POV, but not theirs, hence encouraged the audience to more readily identify with her.
As of 2015, one of three films to win the top five Oscars: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Screenplay (Adapted). The others are It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
Brooke Smith and Ted Levine were actually very close on the set, making Jodie Foster refer to Brooke Smith as Patricia Hearst, a kidnapping victim who later fell in love with her kidnapper.
Almost all the scenes in Hannibal's original cell have either a reflection of Hannibal or Clarice, depending on the camera's point of view.
Most of the film was shot in Pittsbugh, which was chosen for its large variety of landscapes and architecture. Some of the film's interior scenes, including the Baltimore jail scene in the beginning and the ballroom scene of Lecter in his cage, were shot in Soldiers and Sailors Memorial located on Fifth Avenue in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh.
Jodie Foster avoided Anthony Hopkins during their scenes together because she was terrified of him.
Michelle Pfeiffer was Jonathan Demme's first choice to play Clarice Starling, after the two worked on Married to the Mob (1988), becoming close collaborators. After a long 'courting' period of Demme in persuit and Pfeiffer considering playing the role, the actress ultimately turned it down as she thought the film to be too dark and violent.
Roger Cormanhas, the veteran filmmaker and president of New World Pictures played the FBI Director.
During Clarice's first meeting with Dr. Chilton, he mentions that when Hannibal Lecter attacked a nurse, his pulse 'never got above 85'. While Lecter is escaping in the ambulance, the paramedic mentions over the intercom that the patient has a pulse of 84, again showing Lecter's icy calmness despite performing horrible acts.
When Clarice Starling first discovers Katherine Martin in the well in Buffalo Bill's basement, Martin's gown, wide-eyed fear, and holding Bill's white poodle Precious can be seen as a direct mirror of Starling's own childhood memory of trying to save a lamb. Katherine refuses to give up the dog after being rescued.
When Buffalo Bill grabs the gun in his bed, right after Catherine hijacks his dog, you can see that the bed sheet has two stitched nazi swastikas, showing another layer of the killer's character. Sometime after that, there is yet another swastika half hidden by a picture on the wall.