PRINT March 1991


Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs

IN A FILM OF heart-stopping terror, perhaps the creepiest shot in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs is a close-up of a handshake. It is late in the film. Tough little bird Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) has just officially graduated from fledgling trainee to full-fledged F.B.I. investigator. She is flushed from the triumph of surviving an attack from and shooting a serial killer of young women. She is also the survivor of another mass murderer’s psychological assault: the brilliant asylum-inmate Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), whose intuitions and brief acquaintance with her killer she has used to get her man. Clarice’s other mentor has been severe Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), head of the Behavioral Science Unit of the F.B.I. So, in this scene, she and a proud-papa Crawford shake hands. Her diminutive paw in his larger one is black suited and white cuffed—exactly like his.

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