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Op-Ed: Only a cat beat Hannibal Lecter of 'The Silence of the Lambs'

By Ernest Dempsey     Jan 14, 2011 in Entertainment
Hannibal Lecter may have helped Clarice Starling get close to the killer in The Silence of the Lambs. But it was the cat who did the real job for Clarice in nailing him. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Oscar winner's release.
Behind-the-bars Hannibal would play with a Clarice Starling for fun’s sake, but when a cat meows at a critical moment, it certainly means business. Those who have been die-hard fans of the movieThe Silence of the Lambs, now celebrating two decades of supremacy in the history of psychological thrillers, may know how every sound and movement counted in the Oscar-winning, riveting hit, starring Jodie Foster (Clarice Starling) and Sir Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal the Cannibal Lecter). How many of them know that a “meow” did it for Clarice?
The meticulously woven plot of this phenomenal thriller leads from FBI agent Clarice Starling’s assignment to seek help from the heartless genius of a psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter, who has been in jail for 8 years for a series of sadistic murders he committed. As Hannibal loves to “feed” on the anxieties of his subjects, his treatment of the young, attractive FBI girl becomes the main catch for the film’s audience. After a series of sessions with the doctor, including playing quid pro quo, Clarice finds herself revising her notes for interpreting Dr. Lecter’s quirky clues while the terror is out of the prison after killing and maiming two prison guards.
Acting on Levter’s clue that coveting follows seeing something daily, Clarice is led to the house of the serial killer’s first victim Frederica Bimmel whose body was found significantly later than other girls taken by the killer. The rest of the FBI team working on the case is about to miss their hunt for the killer while Clarice is allowed to take a look at Frederica’s room in her house in Ohio. And it is here that the domestic cat comes into the view. Not certain what to look for ahead of her, after looking a careful look inside the bedroom, Clarice’s attention is caught by the cat’s meowing. The enviably nonchalant creature, licking its fur, leads Clarice to Frederica’s wardrobe. And the rest is history!
Now we may choose to reave the cat of the credit by choosing to think that Clarice may have got to the wardrobe anyways. Yet, the “if” factor speaks for the cat’s causal, and crucial, role in leading Clarice to the sight that would start her call her boss Jack Crawford about the killer’s actual motive, and shortly thereafter send her looking for the dressmaker, as he is revealed by Frederica’s dress collection. For the plot’s conclusion, the meow did it just in time to save the next victim, Catherine Martin, and to earn Clarice the medal that Hannibal may never would have thrown her way so generously. For Clarice Starling, Hannibal Lecter was important. But the cat played the final card in her favor. Yet, the talented feline was not shown attending the ceremony where Clarice got her medal!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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