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Thirty years of fascination with Hannibal Lecter


'The Silence of the Lambs' changed the history of horror cinema in 1991. The film won the top five Oscars and elevated its creators: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster and Jonathan Demme. "Something of Clarice remains in me", confesses the actress in an interview with EL PAÍS

“We started shooting.

And when he began to speak, Hopkins brought out that tone and that Hannibal Lecter accent ... I reacted surprised, because I had not heard him like this before.

When they cut, even the sound man was terrified.

Of course, I thank him for not giving notice: my reaction was genuine, ”recalls Jodie Foster in an interview with EL PAÍS.

30 years ago, on Valentine's Day 1991,

The Silence of the Lambs

premiered in the United States


It arrived in Spain later, in September, when it had already become a smash hit: it was a


budget (19 million dollars), which recovered the investment in its first week in US theaters (it would end up exceeding 272 million dollars worldwide), and that in March 1992 became the third, and even now, the last feature film in the history of cinema to win the five main Oscars: film, direction, script —in his case, adapted—, actor and actress.

And, above all, he created in the audiovisual the modern image of the


the psychopathic serial killer who with Lecter became a refined, very intelligent and icy guy.

  • The game of emotion.

    Criticism of Ángel Fernández-Santos of 'The Silence of the Lambs'

  • When Anthony Hopkins masterfully loses his mind

Few remember it now, but

The Silence of the Lambs

is a sequel.

In 1986 Michael Mann adapted


Thomas Harris' first novel in the Lecter saga,

Red Dragon,

published five years earlier.

It was the first appearance of Hannibal the Cannibal, to whom Brian Cox put a face (in that movie Hannibal's last name is Lecktor, and even today no one has given an explanation for the change).

It was a failure and Dino De Laurentiis, the producer, decided not to buy the film rights to

The Silence of the Lambs

when it was released in 1988. Gene Hackman did so that he could play Lecter himself and direct it, but his daughter gave him he warned that he had too many violent characters in a row.

So his producer friend, Arthur Krim, of the Orion Pictures production company, who had bought the rights half with Hackman, was left alone on the project.

Legend has it that Paul Verhoeven received an offer to head the project, today it seems impossible that

The Silence of the Lambs

was directed by a director other than Jonathan Demme, who after all started with Roger Corman.

“He hit all the sticks with success.

You couldn't really label him beyond the fact that he didn't look very American.

I was like apart from the rest of the world, ”recalled Chema Prado, former director of the Spanish Film Library and friend of the New Yorker, when the filmmaker died in 2017.

Sean Connery refused to play Lecter, and the producers turned to Anthony Hopkins, thanks to his portrayal of the doctor in

The Elephant Man


As Demme explained, "Dr. Treves is a good man, as is Lecter, but he is trapped in a sick mind."

For Clarice Starling, Demme proposed Michelle Pfeiffer, with whom she had just worked on

Married with Everyone.

The actress, reluctant to face the character, launched an ordeal: she would do it for two million.

That amount was out of budget and next on the list, Foster, who had just won the Oscar with


accepted the challenge.

"I fought for that role," he explains.

“We had an interview, and at the end he told me it was mine.

Jonathan liked my determination. "

Foster took the commitment out of Orion to produce her first film as a director,

Little Tate.

“From that shoot, and after the promotion, I was left with the image of a very humble Hopkins.

He was a veteran Shakespearean actor, I was young, in full personal growth.

And he come humility.

So much, that I wondered if he was not acting.

No way!

It's like that, ”says Foster.

The interview takes place, via Zoom, days after the anniversary and



published an online chat between the two interpreters, where Hopkins also confessed his intimidation that first day of filming before Foster.

"It is true that there you can see that we love each other, that we respect each other," confirms the actress.

"My career, for the public, has been linked to his, and it is an honor."

On screen, convicted murderer Lecter and young FBI agent Starling share only four sequences;

moreover, Hannibal only appears 24 minutes and 52 seconds.

Because in reality,

The Silence of the Lambs

tells the race to catch another murderer, Buffalo Bill (a character who at the time caused complaints from the LGTBI collective).

But the heart of the plot is driven by the relationship between the man who ate the liver of one of the census, "accompanied by some beans and a good Chianti", and the agent of "good bags and cheap shoes."

The coldness of a computer

Harris based this strange friendship on that of criminologist Robert Keppel and the famous serial killer Ted Bundy, who helped Keppel investigate the crimes of the Green River killer in Washington.

Hopkins created Lecter as a mix of a London friend of his who did not blink when he spoke, a reptile (they blink at will) and HAL 9000, the



, a space odyssey,

cold, intelligent and aware of everything around him.

Foster spent time with an FBI agent, from whom he got the idea of ​​crying standing next to the car, to relieve the tension.

With its implicit violence, with a production design — a work by Kristi Zea — based in part on paintings by Francis Bacon,

The Silence of the Lambs

is, although some deny it, a horror film.

At the end of a show in October 1990 at the ShowEast convention, there was dead silence in the stalls.

Ted Tally, the screenwriter, turned to Demme and asked, "Don't you think maybe the movie is too scary?"

Even so, Orion decided to postpone the premiere to February 1991 so as not to disturb the promotion of another of his jewels,

Dancing with wolves.

For this reason, when in March 1992 it won the five Oscars (out of seven nominations), it became the first film to win the main statuette after being on video, and the only horror film to have obtained it.

Thomas Harris did not want to participate in the script.

He was writing Lecter's third novel — of the quartet —


and he didn't want to be contaminated by someone's interpretation of his character.

Of course, after the awards season, he sent each winner a bottle of wine.

Although Hopkins repeated as Lecter, Foster did not return to Starling: in the cinema she was replaced by Julianne Moore.

Now the series


which takes place a year after

The Silence of the Lambs,

is being broadcast in the US


Foster confesses: “I have not seen it, although I am glad that Clarice inspires so many adaptations.

He is a wonderful character.

Harris created it, all actresses have interpreted it to suit her.

But yes, I love her, something of Clarice remains in me ”.

Tyramine on the menu of the day

What do wine, lima beans, and a liver have in common?

Well, they contain tyramine, a monoamine that acts in the human body as a vasoactive.

When Lecter explains his menu, he is sending another message: at that time he had stopped his medication, because the intake of tyramine is extremely dangerous for patients taking antidepressants (especially monoamine oxidase inhibitors), something common in psychiatric institutions.

By the way, in the novel, Harris did not write Chianti, but Amarone, after the Venetian Amarone della Valpolicella.

Source: elparis

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