Mothman

Hannibal Lecter earned the morbid action figures and lasting pop culture impact. It’s no wonder – he’s an engagingly evil movie villain, beyond psychotic, beyond demented. Anthony Hopkins plays the part with a frigid stare that suggests outright sadism, even when speaking normally. As written, he’s a thinking, calculated character who rests at the center of this grand studio thriller.

Clarice (Jodi Foster) isn’t so fortunate – no action figures for her. Yet looking beyond the gratuitous gore and slickly intelligent methodology as to what Silence of the Lambs doesn’t show is a subtly progressive story about women penetrating a traditionally male workspace. In for an autopsy, Clarice shouts for the all-male police crew to leave. They all blankly stare, their eyes an eerie callback to Lecter’s own. The entomologist examining a bug immediately hits on her, again with the same callous stare. An arrogant doctor using the case for personal publicity? Agitated when his advances are rejected.

Silence of the Lambs forces Clarice to combat the worst of men

Silence of the Lambs surrounds Clarice with men, all who appear visually devious or who speak condescendingly. It’s a movie about words and wordplay; the horror for Clarice isn’t only a dead woman’s body, but the snarky resentment from her superiors as she attempts to build a career, sidestepping the judgmental glances and demeaning dialog on her way.

Walking away from Silence of the Lambs means images remain seared into the mind. There’s the skinned body hanging from a cage. Or maybe it’s Lecter pinned to a gurney, an olive-colored mask obscuring his face, allowing only his eyes to show his disdain. Or, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine) in a now dated, fearful transgender role, dancing to his favorite song.

Understandably then, picking out Clarice as Silence of the Lambs’ focal point runs counter to why the film landed as it did. Unquestionably though, that let in a wider audience. More than Clarice withstanding the odor in the autopsy room, she’s contending with her circumstances. The stress is more than visual – and the camera mostly looks away – as Clarice struggles to mouth words. Any mistake is amplified in this world where the men dominate.

Facing Lecter, Clarice’s boundaries break. He manipulates her, to a point of personal joy for him. Indirectly, Lecter strengthens her resolve. Facing Lecter, Silence of the Lambs forces Clarice to combat the worst of men. Suddenly, those awkward, desperate, sexually-laced barbs fall away, and her confidence grows. That doesn’t hurt Lecter’s mainstream popularity either.

Video

Kino’s efforts apply a deft hand to the original cinematography, preserving the imagery carefully. Silence of the Lambs isn’t striking in 4K, but it is precise. A boost in resolution and texture improves over HD releases, drawing out the fidelity in close-ups. Exteriors pack in resolution, resolving trees, buildings, and other elements. Grain varies in intensity, but holds together under the encode.

Usually drained color uses Dolby Vision to push dense (if pale) flesh tones. There’s a distinct digital hue working through the palette, sending the palette toward an orange/teal on too many occasions. The chill looks entirely modern and not of a film stock. Same goes for the warmth used, although not as notably. Regardless, it’s attractive in developing a moody, dour aesthetic.

Black levels run hard and not particularly dense either. There’s some crush to note, much of that on the lighting design however. Silence of the Lambs won’t push peak brightness often. If does generate highlights (say, Starling’s flashlight when against the storage facility’s pitch blackness). Overall dimensionality retains intent first, reserved, and saved for those few moments where intensity is necessitated. It’s the right approach.

Audio

Two flavors of DTS-HD on the disc, one a stereo track, the other 5.1. The latter offers natural nuance, like creepy effects placed in a rear, more effective in staging than what the stereo track can provide. Minor LFE extensions add a light touch.

Either way, fidelity is sublime and pure, losing nothing to age. Firm dialog pairs with a crisp score, which also digs into the subwoofer where needed.

Extras

On the UHD, historian Tim Lucas provides commentary. Everything else is on the Blu-ray, pulling older bonuses. An hour long, tenth anniversary retrospective comes first, and an episode of Page to Screen hits the 41-minute mark. Three featurettes follow, then Johnathan Demme and Jodi Foster interviews that last 52-minutes. Deleted scenes and a short outtake reel near the endpoint, which is marked by promo materials.

Silence of the Lambs
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Psychologically harrowing as a thriller and a captivating commentary, Silence of the Lambs retains its classic status through the decades.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 53 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: