Study Guide

The Silence of the Lambs Watching

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Everyone's watching Clarice closely—Lecter, Miggs, Chilton, the bug guys, cops, woman-skinners. She's the object of curiosity and desire, often unwanted, from all kinds of men; even some of her male colleagues look at her with thinly-veiled disdain. The camera work throughout the film emphasizes all this. As film guru Roger Ebert noted, "The point-of-view camera takes the place of the scrutinizing men in her life, and when she enters dangerous spaces, it is there waiting for her instead of following her in." (Source)

There are lots of close-ups of Clarice, looking uncomfortable and nervous, reacting to what men are saying to her, most memorably when Lecter is staring down at her from his cell in their first meeting. Scariest of all might be the night-vision-goggles POV, when Buffalo Bill traps Clarice in the basement and is ready to pull the trigger as she helplessly gropes around in the dark. But Clarice is paying close attention, too. She hears the click of the gun and fires in his direction. This "I was blind but now I see" moment completes Clarice's evolution from powerless, scrutinized trainee to capable player.

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