The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a serial killer imprisoned in an institution for the criminally insane, is depicted with heightened senses from being incarcerated. His ability to correctly identify the perfume and moisturiser that Clarisse usually wears is portrayed as remarkable and implies the intelligence of the cold and calculating killer, suggesting Clarisse could still be in danger, despite security measures.  A focus on Hannibal’s ability to draw landscapes with photographic characteristics ‘from memory’ accentuates the isolation Hannibal endures during his time in prison. The exceptional detail in these drawings exhibit the extent of Hannibal’s free time and therefore, the time that passes him by during his incarceration.

Furthermore, Hannibal reverses the dynamic between prisoner and interrogator. He achieves this by politely greeting Clarisse first, with ‘good morning’. He also suggests that Clarisse should ‘sit’, all while wearing his signature sinister smile, showing that he revels in Clarisse’s discomfort. Forced intimacy between the two characters is conveyed through extreme close up. A shallow depth of field highlights the detail of the face, suggesting each character is consuming every detail of one another. Each face fills the entire frame, leaving little space for the background. Thus, a parallel is created between the confined space in his cell and on camera, creating claustrophobia that can only be present in a prison cell.

Rebecca Hind

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