The Silence of the Lambs (film)

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The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 film about a young FBI trainee who is hunting a serial killer who skins and butchers his victims. To better understand the motives of the killer, she attempts to get inside his mind with the help of an imprisoned psychopath, with whom she plays a deadly psychological game of cat-and-mouse.

Directed by Jonathan Demme. Written by Ted Tally, based on the novel by Thomas Harris.
To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman. taglines

Dr. Hannibal Lecter[edit]

  • Good evening, Clarice.
    • Note: Usually misquoted as "Hello, Clarice".
  • You fly back to school now, little Starling. [softly] Fly, fly, fly. Fly, fly, fly.
  • I've been in this room for eight years now, Clarice. I know they will never ever let me out while I'm alive. What I want is a view. I want a window where I can see a tree, or even water. I want to be in a federal institution, far away from Dr. Chilton.
  • Our Billy wasn't born a criminal, Clarice — he was made one through years of systematic abuse. Our Billy hates his own identity, you see. He always has, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual. But his pathology is a thousand times more savage and more terrifying.
  • Quid pro quo – I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself. Quid pro quo. Yes or no?.
  • Tell me, Clarice– have the lambs stopped screaming?

Clarice Starling[edit]

  • You see a lot, Doctor. But are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you—why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Maybe you're afraid to.
  • Your anagrams are showing, Doctor. Louis Friend? Iron sulfide, also known as fool's gold?

Dr. Frederick Chilton[edit]

  • I am going to show you why we insist on such precautions. On the evening of July 8th, 1981, he complained of chest pains and was taken to the dispensary. His mouthpiece and restraints were removed for an EKG. When the nurse leaned over him, he did this to her. [pulls out photo] The doctors managed to reset her jaw, more or less. Saved one of her eyes … his pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue.

Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb[edit]

  • [To a mirror] Would you fuck me? I'd fuck me. I'd fuck me hard.
  • [Shouting] You don't know what pain is!
  • It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it's told. It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again. Now it places the lotion in the basket. Put the fucking lotion in the basket!

Others[edit]

  • Miggs: I can smell your cunt.
  • Miggs: I bit my wrists so I can diiiiie!
  • Jack Crawford: Believe me, you don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head.

Dialogue[edit]

[Clarice meets Crawford in his office]
Jack Crawford: I remember you from my seminar at UVA. You grilled me pretty hard, as I recall, on the bureau's civil rights record in the Hoover years. I gave you an A.
Clarice Starling: A-minus, Sir.

Dr. Frederick Chilton: Crawford is very clever, isn't he, using you?
Clarice Starling: What do you mean, sir?
Dr. Frederick Chilton: A pretty young woman to turn him on. I don't believe Lecter's even seen a woman in eight years. And, oh, are you ever his taste. So to speak.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Now then, tell me. What did Miggs say to you? Multiple Miggs in the next cell. He hissed at you. What did he say?
Clarice Starling: He said, "I can smell your cunt."
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: I see. I, myself, cannot. You use Evian skin cream, and sometimes you wear L'Air du Temps … but not today.
Clarice Starling: Did you do those drawings, Doctor?
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Ah. That is the Duomo seen from the Belvedere. You know Florence?
Clarice Starling: All that detail just from memory, sir?
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have instead of a view.

[Discussing "Buffalo Bill"]
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Why do you think he removes their skins, Agent Starling? Enthrall me with your acumen.
Clarice Starling: It excites him. Most serial killers keep some sort of trophies from their victims.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: I didn't.
Clarice Starling: No. No, you ate yours.

Dr. Lecter: You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well-scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you've tried so desperately to shed? Pure West Virginia. What's your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you … all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars … while you could only dream of getting out … getting anywhere … getting all the way to the FBI.
Clarice: You see a lot, doctor. But can you point that high-powered perception at yourself? What about it? Why don't you – why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to.

[Gumb is holding Catherine Martin hostage in a hole in his basement]
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: [to his dog Precious] It rubs the lotion on its skin. It does this whenever it is told.
Catherine Martin: Mister … my family will pay cash. Whatever ransom you're asking for, they pay it.
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again. [to his dog, Precious] Yes, it will, Precious, won't it? It will get the hose!
Catherine Martin: Okay … okay … okay. Mister, if you let me go, I won't – I won't press charges, I promise. See, my mom is a real important woman … I guess you already know that.
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Now it places the lotion in the basket.
Catherine Martin: Please! Please, I wanna go home! I wanna go home, please!
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: It places the lotion in the basket.
Catherine Martin: I wanna see my mommy! Please, I wanna see my …
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Put the fucking lotion in the basket!

Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Jack Crawford is helping your career, isn't he? Apparently he likes you, and you like him too.
Clarice Starling: I never thought about it.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Do you think that Jack Crawford wants you sexually? True, he is much older, but do you think he visualizes scenarios, exchanges, fucking you?
Clarice Starling: That doesn't interest me, Doctor, and frankly, it's … it's the sort of thing that Miggs would say.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Not anymore.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center. Sounds charming.
Clarice Starling: That's only part of the island. There's a very, very nice beach. Terns nest there. There's beautiful …
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Terns? If I help you, Clarice, it will be "turns" for us too. Quid pro quo – I tell you things, you tell me things. Not about this case, though. About yourself. Quid pro quo. Yes or no? [pause] Yes or no, Clarice? Poor little Catherine is waiting.
Clarice Starling: Go, doctor.

Dr. Lecter: Tell me, Senator, did you nurse Catherine yourself?
Senator Ruth Martin: What?
Dr. Lecter: Did you breast-feed her?
Krendler: Now, wait a minute …
Senator Ruth Martin: Yes, I did.
Dr. Lecter: Toughened your nipples, didn't it?
Krendler: You son of a bitch!
Dr. Lecter: Amputate a man's leg, and he can still feel it tickling. Tell me, mum, when your little girl is on the slab, where will it tickle you?
Sen. Martin: Take this thing back to Baltimore!
Dr. Lecter: Five foot ten, strongly built, about 180 pounds; hair blonde, eyes pale blue. He'd be about 35 now. He said he lived in Philadelphia, but may have lied. That's all I can remember, mum, but if I think of any more, I will let you know. Oh, and Senator, just one more thing: love your suit.

[About Lecter]
Officer Murray: Is it true what they're saying, he's some kinda vampire?
Clarice Starling: They don't have a name for what he is.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter: First principles, Clarice: simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius, "Of each particular thing, ask: What is it in itself? What is its nature?" What does he do, this man you seek?
Clarice Starling: He kills women.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: No, that is incidental. What is the first and principal thing he does, what needs does he serve by killing?
Clarice Starling: Anger, social acceptance, and, uh, sexual frustration …
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: No, he covets. That's his nature. And how do we begin to covet, Clarice? Do we seek out things to covet? Make an effort to answer, now.
Clarice Starling: No. We just …
Dr. Hannibal Lecter: No. We begin by coveting what we see every day. Don't you feel eyes moving over your body, Clarice? And don't your eyes seek out the things you want?

Dr. Lecter: No! I will listen now. After your father's murder, you were orphaned. You were ten years old. You went to live with cousins on a sheep and horse ranch in Montana. And …?
Clarice: [tears begin forming in her eyes] And one morning, I just ran away.
Dr. Lecter: Not "just", Clarice. What set you off? You started at what time?
Clarice: Early, still dark.
Dr. Lecter: Then something woke you, didn't it? Was it a dream? What was it?
Clarice: I heard a strange noise.
Dr. Lecter: What was it?
Clarice: It was … screaming. Some kind of screaming, like a child's voice.
Dr. Lecter: What did you do?
Clarice: I went downstairs, outside. I crept up into the barn. I was so scared to look inside, but I had to.
Dr. Lecter: And what did you see, Clarice? What did you see?
Clarice: Lambs. And they were screaming.
Dr. Lecter: They were slaughtering the spring lambs?
Clarice: And they were screaming.
Dr. Lecter: And you ran away?
Clarice: No. First I tried to free them. I … I opened the gate to their pen, but they wouldn't run. They just stood there, confused. They wouldn't run.
Dr. Lecter: But you could and you did, didn't you?
Clarice: Yes. I took one lamb, and I ran away as fast as I could.
Dr. Lecter: Where were you going, Clarice?
Clarice: I don't know. I didn't have any food, any water, and it was very cold, very cold. I thought, I thought if I could save just one, but … he was so heavy. So heavy. I didn't get more than a few miles when the sheriff's car picked me up. The rancher was so angry he sent me to live at the Lutheran orphanage in Bozeman. I never saw the ranch again.
Dr. Lecter: What became of your lamb, Clarice?
Clarice: They killed him.
Dr. Lecter: You still wake up sometimes, don't you? You wake up in the dark and hear the screaming of the lambs.
Clarice: Yes.
Dr. Lecter: And you think if you save poor Catherine, you could make them stop, don't you? You think if Catherine lives, you won't wake up in the dark ever again to that awful screaming of the lambs.
Clarice: [choking up] I don't know. I don't know.
Dr. Lecter: Thank you, Clarice. Thank you.
Clarice: Tell me his name, Doctor.
Dr. Lecter: … Dr. Chilton, I presume. I think you know each other.
Dr. Chilton: Okay. Let's go.
Clarice: It's your turn, Doctor.
Dr. Chilton: Out!
Clarice: Tell me his name!
Boyle: I'm sorry, ma'am. We've got orders. We have to put you on a plane. Come on, now.
[Chilton and the guards start leading Clarice out]
Dr. Lecter: Brave Clarice. You will let me know when those lambs stop screaming, won't you?
Clarice: Tell me his name, Doctor!
Dr. Lecter: Clarice, your case file. [their hands touch briefly] Goodbye, Clarice.

Ardelia Mapp: Is this Lecter's handwriting? "Clarice, doesn't this random scattering of sites seem desperately random – like the elaborations of a bad liar? Ta, Hannibal Lecter."
Clarice Starling: "Desperately random." What does he mean?
Ardelia Mapp: Not random at all, maybe. Like there's some pattern here …?
Clarice Starling: But there is no pattern, or the computers would've nailed it. They're even found in random order.
Ardelia Mapp: Random because of the one girl. The one he weighted down.
Clarice Starling: Oh, Fredrica Bimmel, from … Belvedere, Ohio. First girl taken, third body found. Why?
Ardelia Mapp: 'Cause she didn't drift. He weighted her down.
Clarice Starling: What did Lecter say about … "first principles"?
Ardelia Mapp: Simplicity …
Clarice Starling: What does this guy do? He "covets". How do we first start to covet?
Ardelia Mapp: "We covet what we see …"
Clarice Starling: "… every day."
Ardelia Mapp: Hot damn, Clarice.
Clarice Starling: He knew her.

[Clarice shows up at Gumb's door]
Clarice Starling: Good afternoon. Sorry to bother you. I'm looking for Mrs Lippman's family.
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: No, Lippmans don't live here any more.
Clarice Starling: Excuse me. I really need to speak with you.
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: What's the problem, officer?
Clarice Starling: I'm investigating the death of Fredrica Bimmel. Your name is?
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Oh, uh, Jack Gordon.
Clarice Starling: Mr. Gordon, good, uh … well, Frederica used to work for Mrs. Lippman. Did you know her?
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: No, nuh-uh. Oh, wait … was she a great, big, fat person?
Clarice Starling: Yeah, she was a big girl, sir.
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Yeah, I may've … no, I read about her in the newspaper. Um, Mrs. Lippman had a son, though, maybe he could help you. I got his card in here someplace. Do you wanna come in while I look for it?
Clarice Starling: May I?
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Yeah, sure. Are you close to catching somebody, you think?
Clarice Starling: [warily] Yes. We may be. Did you … take over this place after Mrs. Lippman died, is that right?
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Yeah, I – I bought this house … two years ago.
Clarice Starling: [looking around] Did she leave any records? Any business records, tax forms, lists of employees?
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: No, nothing like that at all. Say, does the FBI learn something? The police around here don't seem to have the first clue. [Clarice notices a moth] I mean, have you got, like, a description, fingerprints, anything like that?
Clarice Starling: No. No, I don't. [she unbuttons her gun holster]
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: Oh, here's that number!
Clarice Starling: Very good, Mr. Gordon. May I use your phone, please?
Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb: [starts laughing] Sure. Sure, you can use my phone.
Clarice Starling: [draws her gun] Freeze! Put your hands over your head and turn around! Spread your legs! Spread your legs! Put your hands in the back … thumbs up – freeze!
[Jame Gumb runs off]

[Last lines]
Dr. Lecter: [on telephone] Well, Clarice, have the lambs stopped screaming?
Clarice: Dr. Lecter?
Dr. Lecter: Don't bother with a trace, I won't be on long enough.
Clarice: Where are you?
Dr. Lecter: I have no plans to call on you, Clarice. The world's more interesting with you in it. So you take care now to extend me the same courtesy.
Clarice: You know I can't make that promise.
Dr. Lecter: I do wish we could chat longer, but … [eyeing Dr. Chilton] I'm having an old friend for dinner. Bye.
Clarice: Dr. Lecter? … Dr. Lecter? … Dr. Lecter? … Dr. Lecter? …

Taglines[edit]

  • Prepare yourself for the most exciting, mesmerising and terrifying two hours of your life!
  • May The Silence Be Broken!!
  • Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Brilliant. Cunning. Psychotic. In his mind lies the clue to a ruthless killer. – Clarice Starling, FBI. Brilliant. Vulnerable. Alone. She must trust him to stop the killer.

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]