One of the greatest psychological thrillers of all time is ‘The Silence of the Lambs’. If you haven’t watched the movie then stop reading this article and go watch it right now. You will not be disappointed and this article is full of spoilers. The movie is great because of an incredible storyline, a great balance between action and tension, and superb acting by the two leading parts. The ending itself leaves a lot of questions about what happened to Hannibal in the following years.
At the end of The Silence of the Lambs movie, we see Hannibal on a payphone congratulating Clarice but warning her not to try and find him. We then see him stalking and it turns out we are on a beautiful tropical island. The scene ends with Hannibal following Dr. Chilton as he about to follow up on his words to Clarice that he is “having a friend for dinner”. The cannibalistic serial killer is about to wreak havoc again. With an ending like this fans would always want more. Of course, the film world granted its audiences this when they released a sequel entitled Hannibal in 2001. While Jodie Foster did not return to play Clarice, Anthony Hopkins was happy to play the role of Hannibal Lecter one more time. The story takes things a turn stranger as we see Hannibal eat someone’s brain with Clarice forced to watch. In the end, he escapes again from Clarice’s grasp. While the movie is strange it is nothing on the book of the same name. In that story, Hannibal actually tries to brainwash Clarice into believing that she is his dead sister. It doesn’t work but it does cause her to give way to the apparent sexual tension and they end up sharing the brain and then having sex. Bizarre. This doesn’t at all fit with the first movie and may offer some indication of why Jodie Foster opted to steer clear of the whole project after she read the initial script.
It turns out Jodie Foster was a smart woman as the movie tanked with a 39% score on Rotten Tomatoes and the book didn’t do much better either with most thinking it was too strange to fit with the original story. The notion of Hannibal and Clarice running away is lovers together is just too cheesy daytime TV for this tense thriller.
Of course, these were not the only two Hannibal movies that were made. In 1986 there was a movie called Manhunter released (before Silence of the Lambs came out in 1991). The movie isn’t as connected as the others but is a good watch. It ranks highly on Rotten Tomatoes with a critic score of 93%. Red Dragon was released in 2002, only a year after Hannibal. It is a better movie based on a much better book. The cast is strong with Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes shining. It is, of course, a prequel to the Silence of the Lambs. It scored 68% on Rotten Tomatoes which may be a reflection of Brett Ratner’s directing limitations. Although still a great movie.
Overall the Hannibal series has produced one incredible movie and some great additional moments. The Silence of the Lambs will forever go down as one of the greatest psychological thriller/horrors ever made. While Hannibal may have ended up riding into the sunset with Clarice as they dined on brains in later life, we can all simply choose to ignore that fact and enjoy the snapshot that Silence of the Lambs provided highlighting two of the greatest characters modern cinema has ever witnessed.