Voted 6th greatest film hero by the American Film Institution, Clarice Starling is the highest ranked heroine on the list.
The whole idea of cannibalism always scared me off from watching Silence of the Lambs. As I got older I would start to take peeks and glimpses but it wasn’t until college that I actually sat down and watched the film in its entirety. And I must say, it’s one of those perfect films.
When creating the X Files, creator, Chris Carter has stated that Starling was a major influence when he was creating, Dana Scully. In fact, Starling inspired many women to join the F.B.I. in real life.
In the 2017 article, Why the Silence of the Lambs is a Feminist Fable, author, Nicholas Barber, explores the idea that “Silence of the Lambs is a film about what it’s like for women to be stared at by men”. At every turn, Starling is either being flirted with or objectified by men. Even Lector brings up a number of sexual topics with Starling, each of which she deflects. The most interesting topic, Barber brings up is that in the male dominated world of law enforcement, Starling gets by firmly on her training. Where male heroes, such as James Bond save the day by being a rebel. Clarice Starling goes by the book.
Speaking of the F.B.I., after the agency had helped actress Jodie Foster with a death threat she had received, she wanted to make sure that the agency would be portrayed in the right light. She was worried after seeing director, Jonathan Demme’s film “Married to the Mob”. Fortunately, they were on the same page from the start. In fact, the F.B.I. was impressed with the realism throughout the film, the only issue being the ending where Starling finds herself alone with Buffalo Bill. Stating, they would never allow an inexperienced agent alone on a dangerous mission. According to IMDB, the F.B.I. stated, “it would be the most improbable and rare course of action of all time, never to be repeated again.”
In conclusion, Starling doesn’t allow anything to stand in her way. She trudges her way through male dominated waters, doing everything by the book, and coming out victorious. Her only bit of defiance being her game of Quid pro quo with Dr. Lector. Against the advice of, Jack Crawford, she does indeed allow Lector inside her head. And the two gain a level of respect for one another. Which ultimately works in her favor.
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