Filmmaking / Directing : RB's April Challenge (day 12) by Geoff Hall

Geoff Hall

RB's April Challenge (day 12)

One of my favourite films is Jonathan Demme's 'The Silence of the Lambs'. I'm entranced by the psychological tension of the scenes between Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling. I was watching some behind the scenes reports about the scene (included on the video below). Demme had asked Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster to speak to camera and not to each other, which on hearing, most people looking on thought it was madness and wouldn't work. (Does this guy really know what he's doing with two great actors?) The answer was of course, yes! I love this scene at Lecter's cell and think that the subtle alterations in camera perspective really work, and add a great deal to the psychological tension. As I endeavour to create psychological tension in my newest film, I must remember that tension doesn't have to be with grand gestures from the character or camera and that sometimes the subtlest of movements can amplify the mood of the scene. The camera is after all like a magnifying glass which accentuates the most understated facial gestures and body language. Here you go. Enjoy.

Bill Costantini

This is a great film and novel for writers to study because the psychological tensions are multiple and as deep in human psyches as can be. Two characters who are both strong and weak in their own ways. One represents good and one represents evil, and they need to work together in order for both of them to transform and reach their external goals. It doesn't get any better than that. My favorite scene is probably when Lecter is transferred, and gets Clarice to understand "what we covet" and she tells him about the lamb slaughter. Not only does she have to bare her soul of its deepest pains, but she also has to understand the most important clue that Lecter has given her. To me, that is the most psychologically tense scene in a film loaded with tensions. It might not be as visually tense as the basement scene when Clarice kills Buffalo Bill, but it bares the deepest hurts of Clarice. Quid pro quo, indeed. Again, it doesn't get any better than that. Nice pick, Geoff.

Geoff Hall

Thanks Bill. There is so much good stuff to learn from here. This is one of the best psychological crime films of all time.

Aray Brown

Great share Geoff

Edith Medina

Great post, thanks Bill.

Geoff Hall

Thanks @Aray! How are you doing?

Aray Brown

I'm doing good. How are you?

Geoff Hall

Doing okay, thanks. Working on a few projects at the moment and I've just heard from my publisher that the next book he's working on releasing is mine! So that was welcome news, after long delays.

Carol Jackson

Thanks, Bill this would be a good film to study because I'm currently writing a psychological thriller.

Aray Brown

@Geoff That's great news!

Geoff Hall

Thanks, Aray!

Marli Monroe

Great post, Geoff, and congratulations on your book!

Adam S. MacPherson

No one mentions Harris here, that is a shame. Despite known fact that he wrote the series. Obviously common knowledge but give credit people. This entire series was his brainchild. He wrote it all. Red Dragon/Manhunter (1981) The Silence of the Lambs (1988) Hannibal (1999) Hannibal Rising (2006). Jon Demme, Mike Mann, Ridley Scott, and all the other writers/directors/producers that made the scripts/screenplays/movies happen. Cudos to all who made the movies. However, you owe it all to Thomas Harris. Recognize, thank you.

Geoff Hall

Thank you @Marli! I like the fact that Demme was working under pressure, as many doubted his ability to deliver on such a dark and foreboding subject. The lesson for filmmakers/directors here, is in the face of doubt, press on and don't listen to the naysayers. In the end he delivers a classic, Oscar winning film!

Richard Willett

Great post, Geoff. Great movie. I just wrote my first thriller (I'm still writing it -- it never ends), and I have studied this one a lot in the process. What was fascinating to me on revisiting it was how what we all remember is the Hannibal/Clarice scenes, but the bulk of the movie actually focuses on the solving of the Buffalo Bill case. It's that ticking time clock that allows us to rest with these two in some of the most remarkable character scenes ever written, especially for a thriller.

Geoff Hall

Hi @Richard, yes the Hannibal/Clarice are I think remembered because they are so iconic. At the time I don't think I'd seen anything quite like that before. But for me one of those lovely switches happens when Clarice visits Buffalo Bill's home, with the moths and that wonderful night vision scene, whilst the FBI approach the wrong place! The pacing of the film is wonderful too.

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