Silence of the Lambs the Term Paper

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In this same sense, though, Hannibal the Cannibal and Clarice of the Cannibalized Psyche are magnetically-attracted (although most unlikely, or so it seems at first but that soon enough makes perfect sense) soul mates. [Yes, even human monsters that could and would eat us alive have souls.]. And it is this cannibal in a cage that slowly makes it possible for the true Clarice who is still locked-down inside her own labyrinth of psychological cages, to begin to give birth to her own scar-swaddled yet still fully authentically self. This is Hannibal's human love and his self-regeneration at once. Here in particular, Demme's implication is a feminist one. But it is also a universal one. A woman may give birth to her true self. But sometimes a man, and even the most unlikely among them at that, can help in that process, and in some cases (this is one, Demme insists) himself create the very conditions of possibility for this to take place at all.

Demme's exquisitely sensitive (perhaps even equivalent in that sense to the director) cinematographer, Tak Fujimoto shows us, especially when his camera closing in tight and still at key intervals in the plot (part of Demme's genius here is that we never see these moments coming) on Hannibal's light blue, liquid-looking eyes - beautifully luminous yet almost childish-appearing inner oceans containing (I hesitate here, but this is how I read Demme's intention for this character) love and profound human recognition of another badly tortured but still healable soul.

This is a would-be daughter, grown now but with scars that parallel Lector's own. Further, this penetratingly intelligent but non-self-reflective young woman could, despite Lector's past destructiveness, have been much akin to someone of his own flesh: springing from him instead of being destroyed by him, as so many others have been. In Clarice's own case, though, Lector need not take her into himself; his self is already, for better or worse, within her and always has been.

Hannibal's light blue eyes, especially when Fujimoto's now-gentle camera peeks shyly upward toward them and catches unawares, leveling itself off now, their soft, watery, fatherly expression as he gazes down (but less so than before), for both are now more equal and both know this) at Clarice, his eyes practically shouting, now: I SEE YOU EVEN IF YOU STILL CANNOT SEE YOURSELF AND I LOVE YOU - YOU CAN SEE AND LOVE WHAT I DO!!! - say we are Hannibal and Hannibal is us - all the good and bad of that, and (yes) there is some good, at least potentially, even in that since that too is human.

These slightly upward-panned then slowly full-on, tight-tight camera shots of Hannibal's haunted eyes in particular also represent, although less explicitly but with equal power, the antagonist Hannibal's most poignant powerful moments of human recognition and possibility. The camera work here successfully (since it is almost invisible) presents visually (and irresistibly, due to its complete lack of any apparent obtrusiveness) an idea most scary and encouraging, at once, to us as viewers and human beings.

This idea is that to be human is to have both a soul and the capacity to self-cannibalize it (Lector and Clarice alike show within the film that each of them is capable of doing both), and since even Hannibal the Cannibal is in fact human, and strangely, surprisingly, capable of recognition and even love for another's essential humanity, we too, must by association have the capacity to think monstrous thoughts and commit monstrous acts against others, but also to love deeply, e.g.,: the saint within the sinner; the protector of society and life within the criminal destroyer; the woman-child within the childless man.

Lector points them out) even ways that encroach on her on-the-job thinking) keeps her own best and most authentic self, intellectual; psychological; personal - encaged. By association, then (and this is Demme's; original author (of the novel of the same title, on which the movie is based) Thomas Harris's (Silence of the Lambs, 1989); and the movie's deeply feminist motif that helps drive the plot and resolution of this film offering from within a genre of fiction (Horror) most unlikely to be feminism-inflected.


Demme, Jonathan, dir. Silence of the Lambs. With Anthony Hopkins and Jodie

Foster. Orion, 1991.

Harris, Thomas. Silence of the Lambs. New York: St. Martin's [Reissue edition]


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