PictureThe Silence of the Lambs flutters ever so gracefully onto this UK Blu-ray release at a theatrically correct 1.85:1, 1080p using the earlier MPEG-2 codec. This was somewhat of a let-down but appears to be the norm for Fox's back catalogue. It's certainly better than earlier incarnations on disc and although detail is a little more apparent, the presentation still remains a little soft, muddying some of the fine detail which this film is more than capable of revealing.
Extra detail is now more than apparent in Jack Crawford's office at the start of the film, with the newspaper article from The National Enquirer pinned to the wall easily enough read as long as you hit the pause button. The grubbiness of Buffalo Bill's abode comes across well as do the markings on the Death's Head Hawk-moths. Skin tones, whilst appearing natural in colour, do not have that level of pore detail found on some other premium releases.
Brightness and contrast are fair for the most part but do fluctuate from time to time and those blacks do appear a little crushed every now and again. The depths of Miggs' cell and the connecting corridor do look a little flatter than I had hoped for. Bright outdoor scenes look pristine and those colours are held in check against their borders, those borders though showing some signs of haloing and the occasional blemish which still exists on the print do come to the fore here.
Colours though are beautifully rendered and have never looked any better. Although somewhat muted, a stylistic choice, they are perfectly constrained and show no signs of bleed. Due to the nature of the film there are some deep reds to behold and the walk down into the depths of Hell in which Dr Lecter is incarcerated is wonderfully rendered with no hint of blocking or gradiation. All told this is a much better release than earlier versions, more detailed with excellent colour fidelity. Still it could have been so much better for a film which is still not twenty years old.
SoundAs is usually the case Fox grace this release with a full DTS-HD MA 5.1 English track. This more than adequately serves its purpose but please don't be expecting too much use of your surrounds as there's really no real cause for those to kick in with any gusto.
Ambiance is occasionally heard there though, on the walk through Chilton's psychiatric establishment (especially when Clarice descends to interview Dr Lecter) probably the best workout your surrounds will get from this feature and even then it's quite subtle and fleeting.
Dialogue is the order of the day and that is much more detailed than earlier versions; the guttural obscenities from Miggs' cell, the hushed calls between Clarice and Crawford and Buffalo Bill's monologue as he dances in his new found flesh all seem a little more detailed, more structured and certainly more clear. On the non dialogue front the whine of the recharging flash during the autopsy and the ear piercing yelps of Buffalo Bill's poncy pet pooch have a little more clarity to them, more contained and defined.
Predominantly then this is a frontal based offering with the score adding some weight and depth to that array. However due to the nature of the film most of the audio comes across from the centre channel. There is some subtle use of LFE, usually to create a feeling of unease (which it does so quite successfully), but like surround use this is nothing to write home about. An adequate track for what it is but like the video before it, somewhat short of demo material.
- Breaking the Silence. 480i/MPEG-2
This initially looks like a BonusView offering with trivia tracks and short commentaries by the main people involved, however it's simply another independent video stream with the trivia 'pop-ups' and commentaries simply overlaid onto the main film. That being said though it's an interesting piece with some good input from Foster and Hopkins. Some of the pop-up factoids peaked my interest a little, learning about the history of some of the characters. It is a little sparse at times but ultimately worth it.
- Understanding the Madness. - 0:19:25 - 1080p/MPEG-4
Discussing the work of the F.B.I. criminal academy and the study of profiling offenders. This is an interesting little short and I do wish it had gone on for a little longer. The talking heads consist of specialists in the field, snippets of Silence of the Lambs are shown as is a copy of one submission from the Zodiac killer. Serial killers throughout history are discussed and how Buffalo Bill and Lecter are composites of many of these nefarious characters. If you're a budding Cracker then this is the one for you.
- Inside the Labyrinth. - 1:06:28 - 480i/MPEG-2
Probably regarded as the definitive introspective on The Silence of the Lambs, this documentary comes in three parts, Putting it Together which covers Thomas Harris' work and how that came to our screens, the screenplay, choosing the director and general plot. The Cast of Characters does exactly what it states on the tin... interviews with the cast who in turn discuss the parts they played. Production, Protests and Awards brings this section to a close with some interesting snippets regarding the protests which went on after the film hit the screens. Just goes to show that there's always someone to protest against something or other. All in all this is a well put together additional extra and one which certainly deserves your attention.
- The Silence of the Lambs: From Page to Screen. - 0:41:17 -480i/MPEG-2
Peter Gallagher presenting Page to Screen, which I believe is a US based television show and essentially tries to show how this book came to be modified for its big screen debut. This is an unusual and interesting addition because it compares the book to the final screen version; what was left out, what was added and ultimately if the project worked or not.
- Scoring the Silence. - 0:16:00 - 480i/MPEG-2
Howard Shore discussing his score for The Silence of the Lambs. Very similar in tone to the one he produced for The Fly I felt. It parallels Clarice's movements and attitude. It is melancholy and dramatic when needed, hushed as required.
- Original 1991 Making of Featurette. - 0:08:07- 480i/MPEG-2
Nothing more really than an extended trailer with very brief interviews with some cast members. Nothing like the earlier, extended making of featurette.
- Deleted Scenes. -0:20:29 - 480i/MPEG-2
A collection of deleted or extended scenes which play en masse with no individual select feature. The print is pretty rough, and in all honesty none of these would have added anything to the final vision. Much like most other deleted scenes they deserve their place in cutting room Hell.
- Outtakes Reel. -0:01:46 - 480i/MPEG-2
A short collection of out-takes some mildly amusing, some just the usual fodder for It'll Be Allright on the Night. However Hopkins does a superb Rocky impersonation and that alone is well worth a watch.
- Anthony Hopkins Phone Message.
A spoof telephone answering message: I'm sure you've already got it from somewhere.
- TV Spots. - 0:05:55 - 480i/MPEG-2
A collection of short TV spots used to advertise this on its initial release.
The teaser and original theatrical trailer for The Silence of the Lambs
By far the best package I have seen for this film, most of which has been ported over from the 2 disc special edition I purchased some years ago. It's good to see that they have gone an additional mile and produced something more updated for this release and whilst there is some repetition between the individual extras the sum of their parts is definitely greater than the whole. If there is a criticism then it's the fact that the majority of these extras are still in 480i and MPEG-2. Lovers of this film will enjoy trawling their way through these.
VerdictThe Silence of the Lambs is a good piece of writing and one which has kept the reclusive author more than happy for sometime. His amalgamation of serial killers throughout the ages has produced a couple of characters which will go down in movie history. One of them, Dr Hannibal Lecter, will haunt the viewer well past their bedtime. Hopkins' portrayal as the murderous, intellectual is nothing short of stunning and in all reality the film would be nothing without him. This certainly propelled him onto a wider American audience and opened Holywood's doors to him. Nixon apart he has not done anything better.
The Blu-ray package is a step up from the DVD from both an audio and video viewpoint but still not reaching that demo shelf of yours, which is somewhat of a pity. I do feel there is more that can be extracted from this, and if any film deserves it then Silence of the Lambs is one of them. In saying that though both are better than we have ever had and certainly justify an upgrade from the video side of things.
One to definitely own, one to watch time and again if not for the storyline, then for some of the phrases that Lecter comes out with. That speech of his to the Senator and her suit has me rolling in the aisles every time. On the whole a justifiable upgrade if you already own this. If you don't then what are you waiting for... go buy it. Highly recommended, with a some fava beans and a nice chianti.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.
- Breaking the Silence. 480i/MPEG-2