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Silence of the Lambs Question


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#1 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam R. Aucoin

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Posted August 29 2001 - 04:12 PM

We know, both from the movie itself, and from the "deleted scenes", that Jack Crawford knowingly made, through Clarice, a false offer to Hannibal to the effect that he if helped catch Buffalo Bill, he would be moved away from Dr. Chilton to another maximum security prison.

Question: Did you think that Clarice knew BEFORE she communicated the false offer to Hannibal, that the offer was false?

I ask because the manner in which she presented it to Hannibal (such as her description of the island, the fact that he could walk on the beach - under SWAT team surveillance, etc.) convinced me that Crawford may have been using HER as well, and that she really did not know she was making an offer that was never valid.

The only thing that tells me that she knew the offer WAS false when she made it, was her failure to apologize to Hannibal when visited him in the holding cell in Tennessee. To me, Clarice was the type of person who would have apologized for lying to him if she had later discovered that she had, in fact, lied to him.

Just curious on what others' takes are on the question . . .
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#2 of 21 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted August 29 2001 - 04:33 PM

I last watched this movie in February (just before I saw "Hannibal"), but I seem to remember always having the distinct impression that Clarice was unaware of the scam. She was, as far as she knew, being truthful to Lecter.
 

 


#3 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam R. Aucoin

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Posted August 29 2001 - 04:52 PM

Carl:

I think so, too. But don't you think it was part of Clarice's "character" to have apologized to him at the holding cell? After all, they were still playing "quid pro quo". And she was "strangely" silent when Hannibal told her that Anthrax Island was "a nice touch". It seems to me that THEN, she would have said something to the effect: "Dr. Lecter, I am sorry - I did not know the offer I gave to you was not valid."

After all, she went back for one thing - Lecter's continuing help.

If I had been Clarice and had KNOWN I lied to him previously, there is no way I would even think that he would be willing to still help me (which he did, in fact, do).
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#4 of 21 OFFLINE   Mitty

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Posted August 29 2001 - 05:18 PM

They make it very clear in the beginning that she must not know anything he can't know, since he'll suss it out.

"And don't lie, or I'll know."

They established quite solidly that she could neither lie to, nor withhold information from him.

Thus, there is no way that she knew it wasn't a legitimate offer.

#5 of 21 OFFLINE   Mark Lee

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Posted August 29 2001 - 06:37 PM

I have to go back to the deleted scenes again, but I thought one of them showed Jack Crawford and Clarice discussing the fabrication of the fake offer beforehand....

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#6 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam R. Aucoin

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Posted August 29 2001 - 07:27 PM

Mark:

I will endeavor to do so as well. I recently purchased the MGM special edition of Silence of the Lambs, and I highly recommend it, as it has more deleted scenes than does the Criterion Collection edition. Of course, the Criterion Collection has its own special features that make it worth owning as well (if one likes this type of movie).

I know that the B movie director, Roger Corman, plays the head of the FBI, and asks Jack Crawford if Jack sent someone (Starling, although I do not believe she is mentioned by name) to Lector with a "phony" offer on behalf of the Senator. Crawford admits to doing so, and said that his motive was to try to get Hannibal to "break" and give them some much-needed information.

Another deleted scene shows Corman, as the FBI director, talking to both Crawford and Starling AFTER the fact, and basically chastizes them: Starling is suspended and Crawford is told to take a leave of absence. Yet, I do not recall any discussion of Starling knowing that the offer was false BEFORE she made it.

Mitty: I understand your points, but remember that Starling herself broke the rules and allowed Lector to "get into her head" by discussing her private life as a child - something Crawford specifically told her not to do. So I don't think that Crawford's warning about Hannibal's deftness in ferreting out the truth would have necessarily meant that she was intentionally lied to so as to not make her look like a liar to Hannibal. I think the offer, in and of itself, was a simple thing to do and not something that even Hannibal could have detected as being false if Starling was lying. In other words, I don't think that lying about a fake offer was something that difficult for Starling to convincingly do.

I would still like someone to comment on the character issue of Starling, and would like to know if anyone agrees with me that Starling would have probably apologized for the lie at the holding cell if she had not known. By the the time she went to see him in the holding cell, she seemed to exhibit a sort of "respect" for Hannibal, she had definitely established a rapport with him, and I personally think that she would have felt too embarassed to go meet with him, face to face, at the holding cell, knowing that she had lied to his face at the dungeon.

This, of course, is not a big deal - but it is a question that "bugs me". Posted Image

[Edited last by Sam R. Aucoin on August 30, 2001 at 02:32 AM]
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#7 of 21 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted August 30 2001 - 02:04 AM

The film makes it clear that Starling not only knew the offer was phony, but that she herself helped design it. This is confirmed in the dialogue when Starling returns Lecter's drawings to him in Memphis. The exchange (from memory) goes something like this:

LECTER: Anthrax Island. That was an especially nice touch, Clarice. Yours?

STARLING: Yes.

LECTER: Yeah! That was good.

In part, he's complimenting her on the cleverness of the fabrication, including the detail and the way it was tailored to his expressed desire for a view. But he's also telling her that he saw right through it. Starling's expression and the way she says "yes" makes it obvious that she knew the offer was phony all along; it's almost apologetic.

M.

[Edited last by Michael Reuben on August 30, 2001 at 09:48 AM]
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#8 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam R. Aucoin

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Posted August 30 2001 - 02:17 AM

Michael:

Are you SURE that Clarice says "yes"? I watched the move this past weekend and I had the subtitles on and I do not recall the subtitle showing her saying "yes", nor do I recall hearing her say "yes".

Addition: I must admit that I never thought I would receive two diametrically opposed answers to this question: "Yes, she definitely, without a doubt knew", and "No, there is no way she knew".

Posted Image

[Edited last by Sam R. Aucoin on August 30, 2001 at 09:19 AM]
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#9 of 21 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted August 30 2001 - 02:47 AM

quote:
Are you SURE that Clarice says "yes"? [/quote] Absolutely -- and Lecter responds to it with obvious delight. He's pleased with himself for correctly identifying the part of the offer that Clarice designed just to appeal to him. It's almost a confirmation that the two of them have some sort of strange understanding.

quote:
I watched the move this past weekend and I had the subtitles on and I do not recall the subtitle showing her saying "yes", nor do I recall hearing her say "yes".[/quote]I just checked the MGM disc. Clarice audibly says "yes", and it's reflected in both the subtitles and the closed captions.

quote:
I must admit that I never thought I would receive two diametrically opposed answers to this question: "Yes, she definitely, without a doubt knew", and "No, there is no way she knew".[/quote] With apologies to others, I don't see how the exchange in Memphis can be interpreted any other way.

M.

[Edited last by Michael Reuben on August 30, 2001 at 09:50 AM]
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#10 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam R. Aucoin

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Posted August 30 2001 - 04:14 AM

But Michael (and I am not trying to be combative), simply because Clarice played a role in choosing the LOCATION of the island does not automatically mean that she knew the offer she was making was false - does it?

For example, I easily see Crawford telling Clarice: "Hey, Starling - we really need Lecter's help. I have obtained permission to have him transferred away from Chilton - find a place that would qualify as both 'maximum security' AND provide him 'with a view'. I am authorizing you to make such an offer to Lecter." Clarice then does all of the ground work for the transfer, not knowing that Crawford DIDN'T have authority to authorize her to make the offer, and not knowing that she is lying to Lecter when she makes the offer.

Why is this not plausible?
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#11 of 21 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted August 30 2001 - 04:37 AM

quote:
Why is this not plausible?[/quote] Because it's utterly inconsistent with the demeanor and tone of both Lecter and Starling in the Memphis conversation.

When Lecter says, "That was an especially nice touch, Clarice. Yours?", he's not saying: "What a well-chosen location!" He's saying, "That was a good bit of added detail to entice me into this phony deal." There's no other way to interpret his tone and expression -- or the "Tsk! Tsk!" clucking of the tongue before he says, "Anthrax Island". He's scolding her for having been naughty, but he's amused by the naughtiness. And the expression on her face when she says "Yes" is an admission that, indeed, she tried to snooker him. It's a fleeting smile that says, "You caught me."

Watch the scene again and see what you think.

M.

[Edited last by Michael Reuben on August 30, 2001 at 12:02 PM]
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#12 of 21 OFFLINE   Aaron Reynolds

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Posted August 30 2001 - 05:59 AM

Not only do I think that she knew, I think that Lecter knew as soon as the offer was made that it was a fake, but played along with it because of the cleverness and wit. He caused trouble about it later as a calculated attempt to get himself moved to a less secure location, in a bid to escape.

#13 of 21 OFFLINE   Joe D

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Posted August 30 2001 - 01:49 PM

I think that she didn't know.

In the movie, someone is talking to Jack Crawford on the phone, and he asks Crawford if he came up with a plan about an island or whatever for Dr. Lector, and he responds that he had to try it. Then the guys says that we've got Starling here and she's hopping mad about it.

I don't remember where it is located in the movie but it's there.

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#14 of 21 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted August 30 2001 - 04:20 PM

quote:
Then the guys says that we've got Starling here and she's hopping mad about it.[/quote] That's not the dialogue. Roger Corman, playing the Director of the FBI, calls Crawford and tells him that the Senator is "mad as hell", and that Paul Krendler from the Justice Department is taking over at the Senator's request.

There's no reference to Starling being there. Why would the Director even see her? And why would the Director of the FBI and a high-ranking official of the Justice Department spring into action on the say-so of "a trainee" (the Director doesn't even know Starling by name)?

quote:
I don't remember where it is located in the movie but it's there. [/quote] It's at 1:00:50 on the MGM disc. Check it out.

M.

[Edited last by Michael Reuben on September 01, 2001 at 09:27 AM]
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#15 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam R. Aucoin

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Posted August 30 2001 - 04:34 PM

Consider the following order of scenes (with deleted scenes added in and noted accordingly; I have attempted to put the deleted scenes in places where I think they would have been had they not been cut):

1. MGM Deleted Scene

Crawford talking to Starling as they are riding in an FBI vehicle in Washington and while she looks over the "offer" that, by all appearances, looks valid - it even has a signature where the Senator's name is signed (which we find out later was definitely a forgery):

Clarice: It looks like a damned good deal, sir. Do you think he'll go for it? [Now why would Clarice say that a phony deal looks like a damned good deal? If I had known that I was about to make a phony offer, I would have asked: "It looks real - do you think he will think it is real?"]

Crawford: The man's a raving maniac. Who knows what he'll do? You up to this?

Clarice: Yes sir - I'm up to it. Now Lecter's offered us his help - couldn't we just ask him for Bill's identity?

Crawford: You told me you don't spook easily.

Clarice: You call this easy, sir?

2. Third meeting at dungeon where Clarice makes the offer:

Clarice: If your profile helps us catch Buffalo Bill in time to save Catherine Martin, the Senator promises you a transfer to the VA Hospital at Oneida Park, New York with a view of the woods nearby. Maximum security still applies, of course. You'd have reasonable access to books. Best of all though, one week of the year, you get to leave the hospital and go here: Plum Island. Every day of that week, you may walk on the beach, you may swim in the ocean for up to one hour - under SWAT team surveillance, of course. And there you have it. A copy of Buffalo Bill's case file. A copy of the Senator's offer. This offer is non-negotiable and final. Catherine Martin dies, you get nothing.

Lecter: Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center. Sounds charming.

Clarice: That's only part of the island. There's a very - a very nice beach there. Terns' nest there.

3. MGM and Criterion deleted scene shows that after Clarice's "offer meeting" with Lecter, Chilton enters Lecter's cell and tells him that Clarice's offer was phony. How he discovered this is not revealed. I assume he called someone in Washington after he heard it on the listening device and was told that no such authority had been given.

4. MGM and Criterion Deleted Scene (although Criterion's version is not as extensive as MGM's):

FBI Director: Jack, Hannibal Lecter is being transferred to Memphis.

Crawford: Transferred?

FBI Director: Did you have a trainee make some sort of phony offer to Lecter in the Senator's name?

Crawford: Yeah - I rolled the dice and I had too.

FBI Director: Well, she's [in my opinion, clearly referring to the Senator - not Clarice] mad as hell, Jack. Paul Krendler's over here from Justice - she's asking him to take over in Memphis. [Again, the context of the sentence by the second use of the word "she" definitely means the Senator, as Clarice would not have the authority to ask that the Justice Department take over, and Clarice would certainly NOT want Justice to take over from the FBI - that would mean the end of her direct role in the case, which is exactly what happened].

Krendler: Crawford, why on Earth didn't you just tell the Senator what you were doing?

Crawford: Because Mr. Krendler, I was afraid the Senator would do exactly what she's doing.

5. Clarice's visit to Lecter's holding cell in TN AFTER her suspension:

Lecter: Good evening, Clarice.

Clarice: I thought you might like your drawings back doctor. JUST UNTIL YOU GET YOUR VIEW.

Lecter: How very thoughtful. Or did Jack Crawford send you for one last wheedle before you're both booted off the case?

Clarice: No - I came because I wanted to.

Lecter: People will say we're in love. (He then begins gently shaking his head and making sounds like you would make before saying the phrase "what a naughty girl") Anthrax Island. That was an especially nice touch Clarice. Yours?

Clarice: Yes.

Lecter: Yeah.

Conclusions:

I have now concluded that Clarice did NOT know that the offer was phony when she first made it. Based on her statement to Lecter that she was returning his drawings so that he would have them until he got "his view", I think she may have never known that Crawford essentially lied to her as well as Lecter.

An earlier poster suggests that Clarice knew the offer was phony based on the conversation about Anthrax Island and Clarice confirming that "it" was her idea. The earlier poster thought that "it" referred to the phony offer. After re-watching the segment several times, I think the context of the sentence suggests that "it" refers to the choice of the island. In other words, it was Clarice's idea to allow him to visit an island where anthrax is present - NOT that it was her idea to make a phony offer. Also keep in mind that Crawford CONFIRMS that it was HIS idea to make the phony offer, when he admits to the director that he "had to roll the dice". Thus, "it" could NOT be referring to the phony offer - if it did, it would mean that Clarice would have been saying that the phony offer was her idea, and that would not be true.

In addition, Clarice DOES manage a small, devilish smile when Lecter asks her if "it" was her idea. But she smiles (at least in my opinion), not because she "knew the offer was phony and got caught", but because SHE CHOSE ANTHRAX ISLAND as the place for him to visit during the Summer. You have to admit, that is quite amusing. I just don't think that her smile, as another poster suggests, means that she felt "guilty" or "embarassed" at having been caught making a phone offer. I think she was pleased with herself that her choice of Anthrax Island even made Lecter chuckle.

Another clue: I believe that "Anthrax Island" is a euphemism for Plum Island, the island that is home to Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center. Why? Because anthrax is traditionally a deadly ANIMAL disease. Because it is so contagious and so lethal, it would make perfect sense to conduct research on anthrax ON AN ISLAND so that if an animal escaped a pen, it would have nowhere to go except wander around the island (whereas on the mainland, if the animal escaped, it could come into contact with other animals and cause an epidemic similar to the one that occurred in England earlier this year). And what better name to refer to Plum Island, an island where research is conducted on eradicating anthrax, than "Anthrax Island"?

Finally, look at and LISTEN very closely to Lecter as Clarice is discussing the offer - he is almost salivating at the idea of getting away from Chilton, he has a look as though he can't WAIT to get out of that cell, and he breathes very heavily - much as a person would breathe in response to being satisfactorily "stimulated".

Just my two cents . . .

[Edited last by Sam R. Aucoin on August 30, 2001 at 11:35 PM]

[Edited last by Sam R. Aucoin on August 30, 2001 at 11:41 PM]

[Edited last by Sam R. Aucoin on August 30, 2001 at 11:43 PM]

[Edited last by Sam R. Aucoin on August 31, 2001 at 05:01 PM]

[Edited last by Sam R. Aucoin on August 31, 2001 at 05:16 PM]
Sam R. Aucoin

#16 of 21 OFFLINE   Joe D

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Posted August 31 2001 - 01:12 PM

Whoops, looks like I imagined the Starling part. Good explanation Sam.

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#17 of 21 OFFLINE   Junaid

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Posted September 01 2001 - 01:04 PM

My 2 cents:

i'm not going to go into a long explanation, but i thought it was very obvious from the Foster's acting that she was deliberately lying. just my take on the subject of course, and different people can see different things in the same performance.

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#18 of 21 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted September 02 2001 - 10:12 AM

Sam, if you want to look outside the finished film for evidence, why stop at the deleted scenes? Consult the novel as well.

Chapter 19 consists of a lengthy conversation between Starling and Crawford as they strategize over how to enlist Lecter's assistance. Here's the relevant excerpt; the first speaker quoted is Crawford, and the boldface is mine.

Quote:
" . . . You have an offer for some privileges -- stuff that only somebody as powerful as Senator Martin could get for him. He has to believe he should hurry because the offer ends if Catherine dies. The Senator totally loses interest in him if that happens. And if he fails, it's because he's not smart and knowledgeable enough to do what he said he could do -- it's not because he's holding out to spite us."

"Will the Senator lose interest?"

"Better you should be able to say under oath that you never knew the answer to that question."

"I see." So Senator Martin hadn't been told. That took some nerve. Clearly, Crawford was afraid of interference, afraid the Senator might make the mistake of appealing to Dr. Lecter.

"Do you see?"

"Yes. . . . "

Chapter 35 contains Starling's conversation with Lecter in Memphis when she returns the drawings.

Quote:
"Dr. Lecter, without in any way . . . impugning what you've told Senator Martin, would you advise me to go on with your idea about --"

"Impugning -- I love it. I wouldn't advise you at all. You tried to fool me, Clarice. Do you think I'm playing with these people?"

"I think you were telling me the truth."

"Pity you tried to fool me, isn't it?"

Now, the film changes many small elements from the novel, and it's possible that Starling's knowledge of the phony offer is one of them. OTOH, looking over your assembly of quotations from the film and deleted scenes, I don't see anything conclusive either way. It ultimately comes down to how one interprets the film's exchange between Starling and Lecter in Memphis. You've offered an interesting interpretation, but I don't find it persuasive. And until Ted Tally or Jonathan Demme or Jodie Foster comes out and says otherwise, the likely bet is that they stuck to the novel on this point.

M.
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#19 of 21 OFFLINE   Graeme Clark

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Posted September 02 2001 - 07:44 PM

Quote:
Clarice: I thought you might like your drawings back doctor. JUST UNTIL YOU GET YOUR VIEW.

I don't think this refers to the offer in any way, just that he may in fact get a view again at some point... which of course he does.

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#20 of 21 OFFLINE   Sam R. Aucoin

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Posted September 04 2001 - 11:33 AM

Michael:

Earlier, you said:

"With apologies to others, I don't see how the exchange in Memphis can be interpreted any other way."

You were, of course, referring to your conclusion that Clarice was DEFINITELY lying and acknowledged as much while in Memphis.

Yet, you later say:

" . . . looking over your assembly of quotations from the film and deleted scenes, I don't see anything conclusive either way. It ultimately comes down to how one interprets the film's exchange between Starling and Lecter in Memphis. You've offered an interesting interpretation, but I don't find it persuasive."

That was my whole point - just to see if anyone else had a DIFFERENT interpretation of (1) what occurred and (2) who had knowledge of certain things. While you might not find my interpretation "persuasive", you seem to have at least moved away from your earlier position of "It's this way, and that's it."

Again, I did not intend to start a fight or be combative in our posts. I simply thought that the film left a lot open to interpretation either way, and I was interested in seeing what others thought.

Thanks for the discussion - I have enjoyed it.
Sam R. Aucoin





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