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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English Dolby Surround
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Commentary by Jonathan Demme, stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and FBI agent John Douglas
  • Seven deleted scenes
  • Film-to-storyboard comparison
  • Storyboards
  • FBI crime classification manual
  • Voices of Death: word-for-word statements of convicted serial killers

The Silence of the Lambs


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, Brooke Smith, Diane Baker, Kasi Lemmons, Charles Napier, Tracy Walter, Roger Corman, Frankie Faison, Dan Butler, Chris Isaak, George A. Romero, Daniel von Bargen
1991 | 118 Minutes | Licensor: Image Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #13 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: July 14, 1998
Review Date: October 5, 2008

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SYNOPSIS

From Thomas Harris's novel, director Jonathan Demme explodes and reconstructs a classic genre, laying a foundation of emotional and political commitment beneath a perfectly constructed psychological thriller. Fourteen years after her controversial role in Taxi Driver, Jodie Foster finally makes the transformation from helpless victim to rescuing hero in this dark, gender-bending fairy tale of an American obsession: serial murder. As Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, Anthony Hopkins is the archetypal antihero-cultured, quick-witted, uncontainable-a portrait of all the sharpest human faculties gone diabolically wrong. Winner of five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay Adaptation for Ted Tally.

Forum members rate this film 7.5/10

 

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PICTURE

The long discontinued Criterion edition of The Silence of the Lambs is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layered disc. The image has not been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

This disc presents an average non-anamorphic transfer. The colour scheme is rather muted, fitting the mood of the film. Flesh tones are pretty good, black levels are nice and deep. Sharpness and detail isnít amazing but itís good enough. There are noticeable artifacts that make the image a little fuzzy, the one screen grab below, the second last one (with Buffalo Bill dancing about) shows some noise around his nose. Zooming in on the image with a widescreen television makes it more noticeable.

The print is in decent shape. There is some damage scattered throughout the film but itís not frequent. The newer releases found from MGM and Fox present anamorphic transfers that, on a technical level, do look better. I think, in the end, supplements are going to be the main concern for anyone looking to pick up this release.

6/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The film comes with a Dolby Surround track and itís pretty effective. The music fills out the soundfield quite nicely, lending to the mood of the film. Voices sound natural and clear, and thereís excellent range. Itís not a track that will blow anyone away but it sounds quite good and works for the film.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

MGM/Fox have released better editions of the film, in terms of supplements. Thereís technically more on those discs but the Criterion edition packs on some supplements that may be of interest to fans of the film.

One supplement that still hasnít seen the light of day on any other DVD release is the audio commentary found on this disc (the other releases donít even bother with a commentary.) itís similar to most of Criterionís older commentaries in that it has all of its participants recorded separately and then edited together. The track includes director Jonathan Demme, screenwriter Ted Tally, actors Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, and, as Criterion likes to do, an actual expert on the subject the movie tackles, FBI profiler John Douglas. Iíve always liked these edited tracks as it usually keeps the pace going and stops (for a majority of the time) stops the participants from wandering off. Demme and Tally of course talk specifically about making the film and the source novel by Thomas Harris (itís a shame they couldnít get him), while Foster and Hopkins give great analysisí of their characters, and Douglas talks a bit about the reality behind the subject matter, even pointing out bits of pure fiction in the movie. Itís a rather well rounded track covering every aspect of the film and its subject matter and itís a real shame that this DVD, long out of print, is the only release that contains it. The commentary alone makes this disc worth picking up (as long as it isnít ridiculously priced.)

The deleted scenes may also be of interest as I donít believe they appear on any of the other releases. I think there is only one scene that can be truly considered a deleted scene where Clarice is at a meeting being relieved from the case. Another deleted sequence shows the full bit by the TV Evangelist from the program Hannibal is force to watch (which is a rather cool addition.) The other scenes are extensions or alternate versions, the biggest of which would be an alternate take on Clarice searching through the Yourself Storage garage with an added effect of rats scurrying about. Nothing truly great or different is revealed but theyíre all still a rather nice set of features.

There are 6 storyboard galleries where you can skip through using your remote. Youíll also find film-to-storyboard comparison. There are pretty generic and common on DVDs but theyíre still rather interesting to look at just for the creative process that goes behind the film.

There are a lot of notes that take up the disc. First of these text supplements is an "FBI Crime Classification" manual. This is a great little educational bit, defining certain crimes and gives you a wonderful step-by-step look at how agents the types of cases presented here, including the use of profiling. Very nice extra. Another section are quotes from serial killers under the section called "Voices of Death". Theyíre a little creepy to say the least.

This was a port of the Criterion laserdisc and unfortunately, for whatever reason (because Iím sure they would have fit) they didnít port over all of the supplements. Apparently there were bios on members of the cast and crew (including a piece by Pauline Kael on Demme,) production photos, and a filmography for the filmís genre. Why these were dropped I unfortunately donít know.

The newer DVD editions are loaded with more supplements (including documentaries) but I still think the supplements found on this release are fairly unique and interesting. The commentary is quite good and I found the text supplements interesting (if at times off-putting.) If one can find it for a good price this disc is worth picking up for the exclusive extras.

7/10

CLOSING

The Criterion DVD has been long out of print, unfortunately and the supplements found on it havenít been carried over to other DVD releases. The transfer has its problems (other than being non-anamorphic) and one would be better off probably going with one of the newer DVD releases from MGM/Fox for the transfer. But for fans of the film the Criterion may still be worth picking up for its commentary and deleted scenes, unless itís ridiculously priced. Iím positive Criterion will never be able to release this film on DVD or any other format again, but I hope one day the supplements on here might find their way to another DVD/Blu-Ray release in the future (and Iím sure this film will see many more ďdipsĒ on home video over the years.) It was a nice release for one of Criterionís earlier titles.


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