Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Yet Another Post about "Silence of the Lambs"

I've been watching some of the documentaries on the new 2-disk "Collector's Edition" of "Silence of the Lambs", and there are some fascinating tidbits in it.

* Sean Connery was the first actor Jonathan Demme sent the script to for Lecter. He had a "commercial" Lecter in mind (Connery) and a "perfect" Lecter (Hopkins). When Connery passed, Demme figured he'd done his due dilligence to make the film more obviously commercial and very happily went to Hopkins to see if he'd do it. "Are the lambsh shtill shcreaming, Clareesh?"

* Jodie Foster used to call the actress who played Catherine Martin (the girl in the well) "Patty Hearst" (jokingly) because she was always hanging out with Ted Levine, who played her captor, Jame Gumb.

* Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins never really spoke to each other until filming was nearly completed. Only rarely were they both physically present for a shot because of all the POVs and close-ups.

* Jonathan Demme rarely did more than two or three takes to get his shot, and his cast and crew were happy --Demme created a very collaborative, congenial atmosphere on his set. (I include that to contrast with the Fincher post of yesterday. Cheap shot, I know, and every director's different and all that, but it's definitely possible to make a brilliant film and create a positive working environment. Blah blah.)

*Thomas Harris (the novelist) and Ted Tally (the screenwriter) were acquainted with one another BEFORE the novel's publication through Tally's wife. Harris did business with the art gallery she worked with. Harris sent Tally a galley copy of the book prior to publication.

* Gene Hackman bought the rights first because he wanted to produce, direct and STAR in the film as Lecter. When Tally turned in his screenplay, he said it was too violent and sold the rights back to Orion. Orion gave it to Demme.

Lots of good stuff on that bonus disc. I'm also looking forward to the documentary they did with Howard Shore on scoring the film. It's one of the great scores, I think, particularly because it manages to tell a story that can get almost operatic at times, but the score itself never gets too showy.

Anyway, I'm very into "Silence of the Lambs" right now (as you can tell), and this 2-disc DVD edition is the perfect way to groove on this "Silence" phase I'm in. Just the same way that watching a really bad movie can be a depressing experience, watching a fantastic movie can be exhilarating. They make it look so easy that it gives the impression (false though it may be) that making a genius film is simply a matter of getting out there and doing it. But the truth is that films like "Silence" are an absolute rarity. Even though they assembled an extremely talented crew of people to make that film, none of them, in my opinion, have even come close to being involved in a film as good as "Silence" in the years since. Except maybe Jodie in "Nell".

Ttotally timeless.


blankfist said...

Agreed. What a fantastic piece of cinema, and what's more what an interestingly male-minded female protagonist. I know Hannibal steals all of this movie's thunder, but Clarice is truly a character unto her own. It's just thorough filmmaking from the window to the wall.

troglodytis said...

I'm back and ready to bring the smackdown, bitches! Silence of the Lambs cannot escape my awesome smackdowniness! What the hell is up with the goddamn moths?

i'll get to smacking in a couple days...