"Devil's Advocates: The Silence of the Lambs" Book Review
Written by Barry Forshaw
2013, 113 pages, Non-Fiction
Released on July 4th, 2013
Like the telekinetic teen Carrie White (also featuring in her own recently released Devil's Advocate book), the good Doctor Hannibal Lecter is riding high on a surge of interest thanks to his recent NBC television series. With this Devil's Advocates entry, film scholar and author Barry Forshaw lays out the case for the classic Silence of the Lambs, and finds it to be ripe for re-examination. How delicious.
He's not too keen on the aforementioned TV show though, which he disregards, finding its Doctor Lecter to be too non-threatening and mumbly for his tastes. As a massive fan of 2013's best television series, I can't say I agree, but he's right in that it doesn't really hold a candle to Jonathan Demme's masterwork. When it comes to crime cinema, very little does. I've experienced The Silence of the Lambs several times now, and have always enjoyed it, dodgy sequels and all. The problem with reviewing and discussing such classic films is that there's always a struggle to find something new to say. We all know, for example, that The Shape's costume is a retooled William Shatner mask, and that Jack Nicholson's infamous 'here's Johnny' line was improvised by the actor himself, so how can we talk about those films without going over hokey old material over and over again? Enter the Advocates, who bring a nice recipe of personal experience, opinion and fact to the mixture.
More so than any Devil's Advocate book I've seen so far, The Silence of the Lambs goes into great detail in its reading of the other texts and movies which bookend the titular film. This is a great idea, as most books about franchise-starters rarely seem to go into much depths where prequels and sequels are concerned. Forshaw is less dismissive of Brett Ratner's Red Dragon and the whole Hannibal Rising debacle than one might expect (and rightly so – both have their merits, in spite of their more unpalatable flaws) and enters into a welcome discussion of Manhunter (Lecter vs Lecktor) and the controversial ending of Thomas Harris's Hannibal. Overall, it gives a thorough analysis of Lecter's many lives, with particular insight given to the titular film. It will serve as a great read for long-term fans of the character as well as a nifty introduction to those neophytes who are relatively new to the good Doctor, outside of Mads Mikkelsen's portrayal. Fannibals might want to give that particular chapter a miss, though...
All of this is accompanied by a platter of pictures and a thorough analysis of the film's story, imagery and creation, all the way from page to screen. Forshaw is a knowledgeable and gracious host, giving each course plenty of time to settle and not skimping on the meat. And yes, I was left craving another viewing of The Silence of the Lambs. Savour this book. Personally, I think it goes down great with fava beans and a nice chianti...