5 What did you see?lascenara17 | 14/11/2008 | See all lascenara17's reviews (97)Famous for being only the third film in history to win the grand slam Academy Awards of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay and for unleashing the monstrous Hannibal Lector in the form of a lip-smacking Anthony Hopkins, most people these days tend to forget just how good a thriller and horror movie it actually is.Anthony Hopkins is undoubtedly the reason why everyone remembers the film, it being his most famous performance. His Lector is a typically English villain: gentlemanly, laid-back, simmering and brooding yet capable of shocking outbursts of both violence and psychological torture. Effortlessly playing around with every person he comes into contact with Lector is a real embodiment of inescapable evil, made all the more frightening because of his meticulousness and cool and methodical approach replacing a more generic supernatural ability.That said, this is not a film about Hannibal Lector. At the most he is a significant but supporting character who is used as a mediator between Clarice Starling and her real quarry, Buffalo Bill.Foster is as outstanding as Hopkins, if not more so. Playing a feminine version of all those clever cops who never quite solve the case, Starling is one of the very few strong feminist characters in film history, made even more significant for her presence in a traditionally patriarchal genre. Starling is beautiful, compassionate and headstrong, which inevitably invites the gazes of desire from every man she meets, from routine county cops to Bill himself. But, never buckling under pressure or just plain chauvinism, she drives forward and forces herself to better Lector, in her eyes a mere criminal, though a theatrically complex one.Their relationship is the fulcrum of the plot, relying on each to get under the skin of the other. Lector is impressed by Starling's commitment and courage, but she also keeps herself out of reach, just, of Lector's emotional spider web. Even the unmistakable sexual tension between the two is all surface: what pushes these two to their physical and mental limits is their desire to conquer what they see as their only true challenge. The thirst to reach the conclusion first is what turns their relationship into a borderline obsessive game of chess, slowly finding that soft centre under the initially thick-skinned defence.Scattered throughout are searing images to awaken an unconscious horror. Violence and gore is glimpsed briefly, in flashes, like sudden outbursts from within the film's texture. Fujimoto's claustrophobic camerawork also brings the viewer directly into the character's lines of sight, as if urging the audience to think and figure out the puzzles as well.Ted Levine also does a great job of playing the unhinged psychopath, a modern day ancestor of the skin-wearing family from the 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. With his awkward voice and speech and disgusting habits he creates some of the film's most disturbing images.Demme's direction is taut and powering, never letting up for a second, somehow managing to make Hopkins' mere 18 minutes of screen time feel like he's in almost every scene. With other visual trickery and contrasts the mind is bombarded with images and sounds that mix into a cocktail of encroaching terror. Rarely is a thriller so perfectly combined with a horror; 'The Silence of the Lambs' is the best example of how to do it right.