Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 5: Clarice represents the Virgin Mary


Immaculate Conception by Murillo, 1660. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Immaculate Conception' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

The Roman Catholic Church concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary teaches that she – unique among all human beings in history – was born without original sin, and never sinned throughout her life. This doctrine should not be confused with the miraculous conception of Jesus. The Immaculate Conception refers to Mary's own conception and birth – not to the famous miracle by which Jesus was conceived within her.[a]

The character Clarice Starling, in some sense represents the Virgin Mary, Jesus's mother. One of Lecter's drawings (shown at left), drawn by him while he's being held captive in Memphis, Tennessee, depicts Starling holding a lamb as a mother would hold a child, and Jesus was sometimes referred to as the Lamb of God.

Left: Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, with gushing blood, detail of the Ghent altarpiece by Jan Van Eyck. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Lamb of God' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Lamb of God is one of the titles given to Jesus in the New Testament and consequently in the Christian tradition. It refers to Jesus' role as a sacrificial lamb atoning for the sins of man.[b]

a. Wikipedia, 'Immaculate Conception'. Web, n.d. URL = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception.
b. Wikipedia, 'Lamb of God'. Web, n.d. URL = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_of_God.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 4: More miscellany; Starling represents a virgin


This post is a continuation of the list of miscellaneous observations on the movie that was begun in part 3 of the analysis (the first 3 items were listed in part 3; therefore, we will start our numbering here with number '4').

4) Early in the movie, during Starling's first interview of Lecter, Hannibal mentions to Clarice that one of the drawings he has created (while imprisoned), shown in the screencap at left, is the view of the Duomo from the Belvedere. The 'Duomo' Lecter's referring to is the Cathedral Church in Florence, Italy, the entire facade of which is dedicated to the Mother of Christ.[a] The name 'Belvedere' comes up again later in the movie: Serial killer Jame Gumb turns out to be living in the town of Belvedere, Ohio.

5) In an early scene in the film, in which Starling first shows up in Jack Craword's office, Clarice has 'V'-shaped sweat patterns on both the front and back of her sweat shirt (as shown in the above screencaps). The 'V' in this scene stands for 'virgin', and the audience is supposed to realize that at the start of the movie, Starling is a virgin in some sense. Another hint that she represents a virgin, is that she attended the University of Virginia.

a. Wikipedia, 'Florence Cathedral'. Web, n.d. URL = https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_cathedral.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 3: Miscellaneous observations on the movie


Below are some miscellaneous observations on the film.

1) Some of the scenes with Lecter in them, and a few of the scenes with Jame Gumb in them, take place at a physically 'low' level with respect to the ground - in specific, underground. For example, Lecter's cell is located in the basement section of the building in which he is locked up; recall that Starling's first three interviews of him take place while he is in this cell (in Baltimore). And, many of the scenes with Gumb in them, show him in the basement of the house he is occupying. What is being suggested is that each man inhabits a metaphorical Hell.

Above left: The area containing Lecter's cell is below ground level, as indicated by the fact that Starling and Dr. Chilton have to descend steps to get to it. Above right: Jame Gumb in the basement of Mrs. Lippman's former residence in Belvedere, Ohio.

2) In the well in Gumb's basement, where his victims are held hostage for a few days prior to skinning, it is evident that the walls of the well have some blotches of dark greenish coloring on them, and reddish marks where a previous victim had attempted to claw her way out (left-hand screencap below). And, when Clarice is moving throughout the basement in Gumb's house in pursuit of him, it is observed that the brick walls of the basement itself have blotches of varying colors on them (right-hand screencap below; click image to enlarge). Thus, there seems to be a symbolic correspondence between the well and the basement. This indicates that Clarice being in the basement, corresponds in some way to Catherine Martin being in the well, implying a correspondence between the two women themselves.

3) See below.

Above left: In the West Virginia autopsy scene, we note that two sections of skin have been removed from the autopsied victim's back (click image to enlarge). Recall that a moth cocoon is found in the victim's mouth. Above right: While this cocoon is being analyzed by the two biologists at the Smithsonian (Roden and Pilcher), when one of the men uses a small, sharp instrument to penetrate the cocoon, to help determine what species of moth it is from, it can be seen that the two cuts which he makes are similar in location and size relative to the cocoon itself, to the locations and sizes of the patterns left on the victim's back by the removed patches of skin, relative to her body.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 2: Starling is being 'watched'


The concept of Clarice being 'watched' by other people, is evident in several scenes in the movie. Examples of these scenes are given below.

Just prior to the autopsy in West Virginia, there is a scene in which a group of State Police officers, all male, are standing in a home's living room, surrounding Clarice; some of them are looking at her.

In the scene in Jame Gumb's basement late in the movie, as Gumb approaches Starling from behind, we see Clarice through his eyes while he is wearing night vision goggles.

At the movie's ending, in the scene showing the FBI academy graduation ceremony, the audience at the ceremony (above left) watches Clarice receive her badge (above right).


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