Nailed to a tree as five separate signs, the message to everyone who dares venture into the FBI training ground is clear: Hurt. Agony. Pain. Love—it. Pride. With those words, the chilling movie The Silence of the Lambs begins.
As Women Who Wow Wednesday continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, which began with Maleficent, and continued last week with Claudia from Interview with the Vampire, today we’ll have a look at Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster), the detective who uses one psychopath to catch another with horrifying results.
She’s in the top quarter of her class, double major in psychology, criminology, and graduated Magna. She was an intern at the Reitzinger Clinic, and more than anything wants to work for Mr. Crawford (Scott Glenn) in Behavioral Science.
From the moment Clarice steps into the Behavioral Science Services office, the images of serial killer Buffalo Bill’s victims sink into her eyes. When Mr. Crawford walks in and offers her a seat. He remembers her from his seminar at UVA where she grilled him about the bureau’s civil rights record during the Hoover years—he gave her an A. Not quite. She remembers an A minus.
He has a job for her. The FBI is interviewing serial killers in custody for a psycho-behavioral profile. They’re looking for help in unsolved cases. He asks, “Do you spook easily, Starling?”
“Not yet.” She answers.
Crawford then asks Clarice to profile Hannibal Lecter—“Hannibal the Cannibal” as he is known. But he warns her to be very careful with Hannibal Lecter. She cannot deviate from the physical procedures she will take when interviewing him. Above all else, she cannot tell him anything personal. She cannot afford to have Hannibal Lecter inside her head.
Once Clarice realizes Hannibal the Cannibal is a monster, a pure psychopath and the asylum’s most prized asset, she takes precautions by heeding to the rules:
- Do not touch or approach the glass.
- Pass him nothing but soft paper.
- No pencils or pens, no staples or paper clips in his paper.
- Use the sliding food carrier, no exception.
- If he passes anything, do not accept.
From there, Clarice takes it upon herself to play the game she needs to play with Lecter in order to get what she needs. She attempts different ways to get into his head, but he proves, with his genius ability to sense her next move, he isn’t a pushover. If anyone’s getting played, it’s her.
Throughout her interviews, she adapts and modifies her methodology to Lecter’s coy ways. With every play and counter-play, they raise the stakes until someone surrenders.
In the dark world Clarice inhabits, there are serial killers, murderers and psychos. However, that’s not to say she is weak when terrifying events knock her from her seat. She’s resilient, making it easy for anyone to choose her as the perfect example of a woman who stands up for her convictions against the evil in this world.
With Clarice in the room, darkness has nowhere to hide.
RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.
If you’ve seen Silence of the Lambs, what did you find most frightening?