Monday, April 08, 2013

Straying From the Party Line: The Lack of Closure in Silence of the Lambs

Just a short entry today, because Silence of the Lambs comforms to this checklist better than any other movie I’ve ever tested.  The one area that sticks out is one that also stuck out last time:
  • Deviation: The strands of the movie never come together.
  • The Potential Problem: As Jonathan Demme mentions in the DVD doc, he was really afraid that the audience would get antsy that we abandon Clarice for a long time while Lecter makes his escape.  By the same token, it’s odd that Lecter disappears from the story after his escape, and never gets an showdown with Clarice. 
  • Does the Movie Get Away With It? In fact, it would have been easy to put Clarice at the escape, and one can imagine a version in which Clarice is the first to figure out what Lecter has actually done, and she’s the one who tries to warn the ambulance driver, a moment too late.  Presumably the only reason that they didn’t do this was that they wanted to stay true to the book.  In the end, it might have smoothed out the movie slightly, but it’s not really a problem.  
  • By contrast, one can also imagine a version of the movie in which Lecter comes after Clarice, possibly even converging on Bill’s house at the same time, but that clearly would have been a much weaker choice.  The lack of closure between Clarice and Lecter is “unsatisfying” in the best way, leaving us shocked, impressed by the movie’s audacity, and unsettled about the problem of evil.  The only advantage would be that there wouldn’t have been a craving for the (inevitably disappointing) sequel. 
But, wait, before we move on to the next checklist, I’ve got more to say about neat tricks I admired while re-watching this movie, so let’s turn this into a Silence of the Lambs week! Tomorrow: Not calling attention to your structure...


Anonymous said...

Just checking -- is it intentional that there's no text in the Sunday posting, just the Silence Of The Lambs photo? (Or IS there text, and my computer isn't displaying it? I see the text on today's Post #2 just fine...)

Matt Bird said...

Sorry about that. I'm actually away from my computer this week, so I posted everything in advance. Sunday's post was another massive table (like the Bridesmaids one) but it seems to not be loading in Firefox, but I believe that it's loading fine in Safari and Chrome. If you have one of those, you might have to switch over to view Sunday's entry. I'm away on a family vacation until Sunday, but I can try to fix it then.