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on February 2, 2007
If you really love "The Silence of the Lambs", then this is the best edition you could find (though, nowadays it's also the only one you can find).

I have seen every DVD release of this film, though sadly I wasn't old enough to see it when it first came out. Nevertheless, MGM and 20th Century Fox have really outdone themselves:

1. Criterion

The Criterion Collection has always been a trusted source of films for me, and their initial release of this film was decent but lacking with special features, plus the video quality was somewhat scratchy. Still, couldn't beat that commentary track.

2. 2001 MGM

The MGM Speical Edition was pretty nice to promote the theatrical release of Hannibal, with a slew of documentaries and interviews that gave a lot of information of the Silence. No commentary track, but a nice new 5.1 surround mix and a much needed clean-up of the faded picture made the greens rich and the reds blood red.

3. 2007 MGM/20th Century Fox

This new 2-disc set offers the same anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer as was the 2001 release and it still has all of the same documentaries, but this release adds some more features that give even more information about how the film was made and the contoversy afterward. That, and the package art is absolutely delicious. Speaking of which, just behind the inside cover booklet is a tasty treat that invokes both sick humor and helpful tips about "cooking"

Bottom line, if you've never seen this film before then I highly recommend it...that is if you have a strong stomach. It's a brilliant story about good and evil and how dark some people can really be. If you already have all of the previous releases, check this one out too, it's worth the double-dipping into your wallet. The best reason to get this are the added bonus features, but if you really love this film like I do then you'll find it's a great addition to your DVD library.
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on March 17, 2009
Pulp entertainment of the highest order, "The Silence of The Lambs" is terrific filmmaking. Entertaining, suspenseful and more than a bit hokey (albeit in just the right places), "Silence" at its core is a "B" movie thriller given an "A"-level film treatment. Fine direction, a crackling plot, iconic characterizations, perfect casting and superlative performances all adds up to a five-star film (out of five) that is worth owning for any self-respecting horror/suspense fan. Unfortunately, MGM's "Silence" Blu-Ray debut is sure to disappoint, as it looks strikingly similar to a finely upconverted DVD, albeit one with heavy doses of grain throughout. Yes, sharpness is slightly improved, but it's only really noticeable in a handful of scenes, and the difference is hardly impressive; the same can be said for the Blu-Ray's blacks and slightly-improved colors.

Some are attributing this to the MPEG-2 encoding, but really the problem lies with the film master source, which really needs a better clean-up. Another contributing factor is the cinematography and lighting of the film, which just doesn't lend itself all that well to hi-def. The underwhelming DTS-HD 5.1 audio fares no better, again probably due to the limitations of the original audio source; the overall sound is flat with the rear channels and sub-woofer barely used, if at all. To top things off, this Blu-Ray release includes most, but not all, of the extras found on the previous DVD releases, meaning if you're a hardcore "Silence" fan, you'll want to to hang on to your old DVD(s). Of course, the Blu-Ray edition does currently offer the best visual and audio presentation of this film, but the difference is decidedly unimpressive and contains far greater film grain than any of the previous DVD incarnations, to boot.

As a side note, I want to state that I have no problem with film grain per say, and will always take the naturally grainy-albeit-sharp look of film over a waxy-looking DNR "remastering" any day of the week. Yet, when the only appreciable gain of a Blu-ray upgrade over its (1080P upconverted) DVD counterpart is a barely perceptible upgrade in sharpness, slightly stronger colors and heavier doses of grain (stemming from a combination of a worn master, mediocre re-mastering, digital noise and the type of film stock originally used for shooting the film), then I say stick with the DVD, as the trade-off simply isn't worth it.

Regarding special features, while the majority of the bonus features included on the Blu-Ray are simply ported over from the 2007 DVD release, the Blu-Ray does contain one exclusive: a picture-in-picture commentary / trivia track called "Breaking The Silence", which has factoids mixed in with occasional snippets of new interviews from Jodie Foster, Scott Glenn, Anthony Heald, Anthony Hopkins, and screenwriter Ted Tally. Unfortunately, it sounds cooler than it really is; while the interview snippets are pretty good, there is no making-of footage of any kind included in the PIP, and the factoids mostly contain information that is recycled from earlier (more compelling) bonus features. Also, there are annoyingly long stretches throughout the film in which the PIP track simply disappears. Overall, a mediocre exclusive bonus feature at best, and decidedly inferior to Criterion's audio commentary track (or the previously made making-of docs, for that matter).

So, for those who DO NOT OWN any DVD edition of "Silence of The Lambs", this is what it boils down to:

- The Blu-Ray is currently reasonably priced here on and (depending on your tolerance for film grain) is therefore worth picking up;

- For hardcore "Silence" fans, they should seek out both the Blu-Ray AND the Criterion DVD, as the Criterion disc contains special features that are not contained in any other edition of this film on home video, particularly an outstanding (and exclusive) audio commentary track that includes Foster, Hopkins and director Johnathan Demme. As I type this, it's still the overall best making-of feature made for "Silence", IMO.

- Be advised that the Criterion DVD has the weakest visual presentation of the various DVD releases, as the picture on that disc is in non-anamorphic widescreen, which is why I recommend the Criterion version to Criterion collectors and hard-core "Silence" fans only;

- For the price conscious, the 2001 "Special Edition" DVD can be had for under $5.00, has good (anamorphically-enhanced) video and (5.1 Dolby Digital) audio, and a nice set of special features, including the same hour-long making-of doc ("Inside the Labyrinth") that is included in both the Blu-Ray and 2007 DVD edition; although it lacks interviews from Foster and Demme, it's probably the best making-of feature that's been produced for "Silence", outside of the superior Criterion audio commentary.

- As for those who ALREADY OWN "Silence of The Lambs" in either the 2001 or 2007 DVD incarnations, there really is no compelling reason to upgrade to the Blu-Ray edition, unless you can get this on the cheap, or are an obsessive-compulsive Hi-Def completest with money to burn. The fact is, both the 2001 and 2007 DVD editions contain respectable audio and visuals that competently represent the original look of the film (although the 2001 "Special Edition" DVD release has a slightly greener hue to its video transfer, while the 2007 transfer has a slightly redder hue) and both editions look perfectly fine upconverted via 1080P. Never mind the naysayers who hate DVD upconversions, as there are some of us who can settle for "good enough" with certain films and save our hard-earned cash for far worthier hi-def material.
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on June 26, 2001
The Movie: As a movie that launched imitators from the sublime ("The X-Files," "Se7en") to the schlocky ("Copycat," "The Bone Collector"), "The Silence of the Lambs" could have become overdone and familiar through no fault of its own. Watching it again, however, you see what made it a hit. Far from a routine cat-and-mouse thriller, it is a heroine's journey cloaked in nightmarish imagery. (It's not for the squeamish. If horrific and disturbing movie violence -- particularly against women -- turns you off, I highly recommend AGAINST it.)
More horrifying than Jonathan Demme's imagery is the character interplay, and not always from the expected sources. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter IS demonically attractive -- like Dracula or the Joker -- and Buffalo Bill IS depraved. But the film's underlying assertion is that a bit of Buffalo Bill's evil exists in MOST men. Witness the exchanges between Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling and Anthony Heald as Dr. Chilton. Even Scott Glenn as Jack Crawford displays some in the funeral home scene. Only Hannibal Lecter, for all his insanity, fully accepts Clarice on her own terms. No imitator has ever captured the perverse mentor-prodigy relationship between the two.
What's most amazing about the film, however, isn't the imagery or the performances or the attention to detail and accuracy. Most amazing is how, after ten years, an ill-advised sequel and countless imitators, "The Silence of the Lambs" still has the power, both on cerebral and visceral levels, to shock, disturb and terrify.
The DVD: Others have remarked upon the sub-par transfer, although the final chapter is color bars, which does little good for those using a DVD-ROM drive on a Macintosh or laptop monitor. And the disc could use a trailer and subtitle track.
Having said that, this DVD is not designed as much for film buffs as for scholars of criminology and behavioral science. Film buffs will find fodder here -- the storyboard sequences, the deleted scenes (the best of which is Jim Roche's televangelist rant against child abuse) and Jonathan Demme's commentary. However, the remaining extras focus more on the factual reality of serial killers and the FBI behavioral sciences division.
The commentary track is one of the best ever. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins are highly intelligent actors who do far more than just relate anecdotes -- they relate their characters to deeper themes. Demme and screenwriter Ted Tally provide the "making-of" stories, and Douglas is fascinating.
The quality of this DVD depends on what you want. If you just want the movie as clear as possible with no frills, this probably isn't the best choice. If you're a student of criminology and the nature of evil, then yes, definitely. And if you're a die-hard fan of the movie, you'll probably want this AND another version -- perhaps the special edition slated for release this year.
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on August 28, 2001
The new anamorphic transfer on the new MGM/UA Silence of the Lambs DVD is much improved from the Criterion DVD edition, and also noticeable better than the Image DVD version. The picture looks sharp and clean; colors achieve a right balance between being bright in some scenes and subdued in others; black levels are accurately reproduced, a crucial aspect since many scenes take place in the dark. The new Dolby Digital 5.1 track is not state of the art, but definitely a great improvement from the 2.0 mix on earlier DVDs. The much sought-after Criterion DVD edition is, in my opinion, terribly overrated. Its pinkish picture quality is poor, its Dolby Surround sound is [bad], its text material about serial killers can be easily looked up on the Internet, its collection of deleted scenes have unwatchable video quality. Its only worthwhile material is the outstanding audio commentary, but that is not something you want to pay through your nose for now that the DVD is out of print.
The Criterion DVD has seven deleted scenes in poor video quality. The MGM disc has 22, including all from the Criterion disc, albeit some are in truncated form. And they all look and sound much better. Some of the deleted scenes that are not on the Criterion disc are quite startling. One of them is a dramatic shot of Lector, close to tears, speaking to the camera about Buffalo Bill's sickness and, via special effects, the prison wall MOVING towards him. Another deleted scene is Lector's offscreen murder of the ambulance driver -- we see a long shot of the ambulance swerving off the road, ending with a closeup of Lector in the driver seat wiping blood from his face, laughing. The MGM disc also has 2 documentaries not on the Criterion disc -- a superficial 10-minute featurette made in '91, and an engaging 1-hour retrospective made for this DVD. Hopkins is the only one interviewed in both. The 1-hour feature has a well-rounded coverage about the making of the film, including production design, costuming, special effects (those moths were "dressed up" since real ones couldn't be obtained), sound design, and of course the various themes of the story. It's too bad Howard Shore's superlative, Oscar-deprived music score is barely mentioned in either documentary. The 1-hour feature also does not overlook the fact that the film was once accused of being gay-bashing. And actor Ted Levine gives a thoughtfully-put analysis of his character, concluding that Jame Gumb is not really gay, but only has fantasies about being that. There are also a theatrical trailer and ten TV spots, one of them reveals something I hadn't noticed before -- the skull figure on the moth is actually made up of figures of naked women. Look closely on the skull figure on the cover of the DVD case.
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on November 21, 1999
I have seen both versions of "Silence of the Lambs" translated for DVD, and I would vote for the Criterion version any day of the week! From the moment the disc is read by your DVD player, you will be captivated by the start-up menu, with the fluttering of moth wings that move about your surround system, to the cries of Catherine in the background, begging for help from the bottom of the well. I had goosebumps all over again. The FBI reference files were a nice touch, showing Thomas Harris' in-depth research into actuall case files, stemming back to his days as a crime reporter before becoming a successful novelist. If you're looking forward to the sequel based on the latest Harris installation, "Hannibal", then you might want to brush up with this "monster" in the mean time. It's worth the slightly higher price of it's predecessor.
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on February 28, 2000
Okay, Silence of the Lambs, a great movie blah blah blah. This review is about the features and lack thereof on the criterion release.
First the commentary is very good. They mix five different people onto one track. Personally I would prefer a few independant tracks as was done on (for example) the Contact DVD but it's still is an interesting commentary. The deleted Scenes are interesting and is a feature I would like to see more of on DVDs. The image quality is great; I can't imagine anyone having any complaints about that. Finally, the Documentary material on the disk is interesting but don't get too excited about it - it's nothing you couldn't find on the internet with about 15 seconds worth of effort.
Now about the two features the disk is lacking which I think are serious short comings: No Subtitles and no Trailer. That a criterion release is missing these two features REALLY surprises me since they usually put a lot of effort into making a quality release. I hope this was just an oversight on Criterion's part and they won't make the same mistake in the future.
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on February 27, 2012
I love this movie, one of the greatest... gore, suspense, thriller, horror, detective etc... I'm assuming most have seen it, if you haven't check it out. I won't review the movie at all, just the quality of the Blu-ray HD transfer... it's average at best. Honestly I don't know what goes into the transfer process, but this seems grainy, so maybe that's the source material they are working with? the original camera work and cinematographic style? etc. Certain movies simply look amazing on Blu-ray others are eh, nothing too eye popping and unfortunately this is just ok. Still worth getting? I guess, I haven't gone back to my dvd version and watched them back to back on my PS3 yet.
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on January 15, 2000
I have saved up my nickles and dimes to get the "cadillac" version of this film. For the most part, I'm pleased with it. I have noticed a few other reviewers here found the transfer to be lacking. I find I have to adjust the brightness on my TV because the transfer is too dark. Another disappointment: no theatrical trailers. They have been one of my favorite features I have accessed on every other DVD.
Other than these two complaints, the package is well worth it. The commentary tracks, deleted scenes and storyboard comparisons are engaging and worth your time.
This film is still frightening 10 years later. A chill passed through me again when I saw Hannibal Lechter for the first time, standing, waiting for Agent Starling. Impeccable acting and direction. Truly one of the "latter day classics."
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In 1990, when I first saw this film it left me so unnerved that it was several days before I could get the images out of my mind. And it has been 15 years before I thought it might be worthwhile to see it again. I was no stranger to slash horror back then, but Silence really goes somewhere else entirely. It's as if you and Agent Starling peeked into a pit and suddenly found yourselves lost in the mind of something demonically dark. It's as if one ripped away the darkness, and found that underneath was even more darkness.

From the moments of Starling's (Jodie Foster) first meetings with Dr. Hannibal Lector (Tony Hopkins) the film's atmospherics build in hypnotic fashion. You have entered a world full of overcast skies and dark chambers within dark chambers on a dual quest to track down a killer who skins his victims while trying to rescue one's sanity from the grasp of a sociopath so skilled that love and pain become inextricable enmeshed.

Of course, the years have wrought many changes in the perceptions of the viewers. While the film still has it's ghoulish moments the victims no longer prey on the mind as they did 15 years ago. We've become harder to shock, yet Hopkins builds Lector's character so well that we become haunted instead by the idea that there is a Hannibal Lector hiding behind each of our masks.

From the viewpoint of social commentary the film has two conflicting claims. Agent Starling presented an unusually strong image for a woman in a suspense film, a hero rather than a helpless victim. Unfortunately the film managed to unintentionally upset the gay community with Ted Levine's portrayal of killer Jame Gumb. He is actually a transvestite, not a homosexual, but that's easy to lose in the translation, and this was a time when film rarely portrayed individuals with alternate lifestyles in a positive manner.

On watching it again, I finally managed to actually 'see' Jonathan Demme's work as director. This was not a high budget film by our current standards. Even so Demme manages to extract every ounce of impact from what he does have. Visual themes are carefully developed, framing is superb, and the viewer reaaly feels in the film rather than simply watching. This still remains a film to see.
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on November 20, 1999
Two things: 1970's television music score (awful) and the total ommission of Ted Levine's performance as the killer Buffalo Bill as one of the extraordinary performances of all time in any genre. When Levine's Buffalo Bill stares down into that pit and recites a "this is a recording" set of instructions to his latest captive about rubbing lotion onto her skin, I almost had to leave the room. Just incredible. Foster, of course, magnificent, as was Hopkins. Yet another unsung performance was the mental hospital director (who IS that actor?) playing such a squealy, self-absorbed slime ball. Scott Glenn as a monitone FBI man--perfectly played. The wonder of this film is that all supporting characters were not "supporting" anything--they crackled on the screen and made the story go at lightspeed.
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