Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video about one of the greatest characters in the thriller genre: Clarice Starling The Silence of the Lambs.
How do you write a protagonist who can conceivably square up against not one, but two serial killers? The Silence of the Lambs has no shortage of cannibals and skin-wearing psychos. So how can a mousey FBI trainee hold her own in such bold company?
Well, the answer is that Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster, is an exceptional womanwithin both the halls of Quantico and the thriller genre itself.
When we first meet Clarice, she has all the familiar trappings of an underdog: she’s assured, ambitious, and patently underestimated. But as the film unfolds, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter gets his hooks into her, it becomes clear that she is more than just a wide-eyed trainee looking to prove herself. Indeed, her diligence inevitably reveals itself as a symptom of an obsessive recklessness — a morbid curiosity that repeatedly draws her towards danger like a moth to a flame.
This is the crux of Clarice’s complexity, and the implicit fear lurking in the background of her psyche: that all that separates her from someone like Dr. Lecter, is a pane of glass.
The video essay below goes into more detail as to what makes Clarice Starling so compelling; from Foster’s subtle facial queues to director Jonathan Demme’s intimate positioning of the camera. It is a concise reminder that, in a film full of big personalities, quietly persistent Clarice is perhaps the most complex.
Watch “The Silence of the Lambs | Making a Complex Thriller Character“:
Who made this?
This video essay comes courtesy of The Discarded Image, a video series created by Julian Palmer that deconstructs film. The series began with a deconstruction of how Steven Spielberg creates suspense with the beach scene in Jawsand has steadily grown from there. You can check out The Discarded Image’s video essays here. This video essay was written and narrated by Manuela Lazic, whose website you can visit here.
More Videos Like This
- Here’s another sample of what to expect from The Discarded Image: a video celebrating the legendary career of Al Pacino.
- One more: on how director Edgar Wright foregrounds sound.
- Here’s Jodie Foster winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Silence of the Lambs in 1992.
- Here’s Lessons From the Screenplay with a look at the anatomy of the first encounter between Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Starling: How each follows a three-act structure and plays a larger role in the narrative.
- The Closer Look has a video essay on why The Silence of the Lambs is a masterclass in how to terrify an audience.
- Believe it or not, but Jodie Foster has never spoken to Anthony Hopkins.
- Here’s Jodie Foster for WIRED answering the web’s most searched questions about her.