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The Silence of the Lambs: Special Edition (MGM edition)

It's extremely rare for a movie to win all of the top five Academy Awards: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture. The Silence of the Lambs, a modestly budgeted thriller released on Valentine's Day, 1991, took critics, audiences and the Academy by surprise by turning out to be one of the most mesmerizing stories of Good vs. Evil ever committed to celluloid, and swept the Oscars over a year later. A decade's passed, and it remains one of cinema's scariest and most entertaining offerings, neither horror nor suspense nor whodunit, but a stunning combination of all three. Jodie Foster plays one of the screen's great heroines as Clarice Starling, a rookie FBI agent hand-picked to help find a notorious serial killer by the Bureau's expert on the subject, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn). Her assignment is to visit the infamous killer Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist who has made a habit of eating parts of his patients. Clarice soon discovers that Lecter is charming and probably dangerous, but also a man who's so confident in his superior intellect that he can barely stand conversation with ordinary people. Silence's other manifestation of evil is the serial killer she's hoping Lecter will lead her to, Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), his gruesome nickname bestowed upon him by the police because of his modus operandi: He skins his victims. Thomas Harris' novel is a fine example of how to write a tight, economical thriller, and director Jonathan Demme's direction of Ted Tally's script brings the viewer into the story almost by force. The most important scenes in the film are long stretches of dialogue between Clarice and Lecter, yet these scenes never drag because of Demme's use of the camera. Establishing from the start of the film that we're seeing most of the film's events through Clarice's eyes, Demme then lets us see what she sees, no matter how painful — and when the ending finally comes, it's almost as if we caught the killer ourselves. Now that's a good movie. MGM's The Silence of the Lambs: Special Edition features a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Supplements include the 60-minute documentary "Inside the Labyrinth," a 1991 "making-of" featurette, 20 minutes of deleted scenes, an outtake reel, a phone message by Anthony Hopkins, a photo gallery, a theatrical trailer, and eight TV spots. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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