Saturday, August 22, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 63: Lecter knew Starling was coming


Previously in the analysis, we have observed that Hannibal Lecter's storage unit and the items in it, especially the mannequins (shown at left), represent Clarice Starling's unconscious and its contents, respectively. We determined that the psychoanalysis Dr. Lecter is doing on her, which begins as an exploration of her unconscious, has as its purpose to 'set up' the conditions in Clarice's psyche such that she will see confronting Jame Gumb as necessary for her to become a complete woman.

The point of reviewing all of this here is to highlight the importance of the storage unit and its contents: their existence is crucial in order for Lecter to implement the manipulation of Starling's unconscious. The question is, what prompted him to set up the unit in the first place? Did he 'know' ahead of time that God would send an angel of death, someone like Starling? - Recall that he set up the unit and paid for it several years in advance. Let us examine in detail the chronology of events that are related to the rental of the unit:

When Starling is preparing to enter the storage unit Lecter rented (as shown at left), the storage company owner tells her that the unit was prepaid in full for ten years at the time it was rented, in the name of a Miss Hester Mofet. Starling then asks the owner, "So no one's been in here since 1980?" (Note that this implies that the movie is set in the year 1990).

Later, in Memphis, Lecter tells Senator Martin, who is accompanied by Agent Krendler (of the FBI) and some other people, that "Louis Friend" was referred to him by another of his patients, Benjamin Raspail, in April or May of 1980. ("Louis Friend" is Lecter's fictional 'alias' for Buffalo Bill - he is here misdirecting the authorities.) Note that Lecter met Gumb, and rented the storage unit, in the same year (1980). (Since Lecter has been in prison for eight years when he first meets Starling, he must have been imprisoned in the year 1982, so there was a two-year time span between the year in which he met Gumb, and the year in which he entered prison).

Above left: Senator Martin and her party (with Agent Krendler standing to her immediate right) have assembled at an airplane hangar in Memphis, Tennessee to discuss with Lecter the terms of his transfer to a different prison facility. Above right: Lecter is wheeled toward the Senator.

One could say that Lecter did not know that an angel of death would come, but that he only set up the unit in case one should come. But Lecter knew about the pursuit of Buffalo Bill from reading the papers, so one would have to ask why he didn't come forward prior to Starling showing up – it seems that he could have told Dr. Chilton (or other officials) about the storage unit and Raspail's head, and about the connection between Raspail and Gumb, and then worked a deal so as to get transferred, all without the involvement of Starling.

The implication is that Lecter knew ahead of time, that an angel of death would arrive on the scene.

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 68 of the analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


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