Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 71: Gumb is attempting to trick Lecter


A copy of The National Inquisitor posted on a bulletin board in Jack Crawford's office says, "Bill Skins Fifth."

The FBI map showing Buffalo Bill's (i.e., Jame Gumb's) victims: The blue dots denote the locations from which the girls were abducted, and the red arrows show where their dead bodies were found.

Near the beginning of the movie, when Clarice Starling first walks into Jack Crawford's office, she sees some news clippings and photos on a bulletin board (as shown in the top screencap above). The headline on the posted copy of The National Inquisitor says "Bill Skins Fifth." Later, during Starling's first visit to the institution in which Lecter is kept, Lecter at one point asks her why the authorities call the killer 'Buffalo Bill' - he didn't know Bill skins the girls. This implies that Lecter has not yet seen the aforementioned news article, so at this point he doesn't know there has been a fifth victim, or that all the victims were skinned. The press, operating under directions from the authorities, must have held off on reporting (until this fifth victim was found) that Bill's victims had been skinned, to avoid panicking the public.

Still later, while Starling is flying with Jack Crawford to West Virginia to do an autopsy on a sixth body which has been found, we get a view of a map Crawford is holding (lower screencap above), which shows where each victim was abducted (shown by blue dots), and also where each of their bodies was found (denoted by red arrows). One thing Crawford tells Starling while showing her the map, is that the new victim (the aforementioned sixth victim) washed up today in the Elk River (in West Virginia), and that this victim is not marked on the map. Jack also states that Buffalo Bill keeps his victims alive for three days, then shoots them, skins them, and dumps them, each in a separate river. Crawford also tells Starling that Frederica Bimmel was the first girl murdered, but only the third girl found, because Bill weighted her body down.

Moving on to Starling's third visit to Lecter, we find that Hannibal now has knowledge of the West Virginia victim, a fact which is evident when he begins to ask Starling questions about this victim during this meeting, without being prompted by Starling. At this point, Lecter realizes that Catherine Martin is the intended seventh victim. Lecter asks if the West Virginia girl was a large girl, and Starling responds "yes", that all the girls were large. Starling tells Lecter that an object had been found inserted in the sixth victim's throat. When Lecter asks if the inserted object was a butterfly, Starling responds, "Yes, a moth." She tells Lecter that the insertion of the object has not been made public yet, and that it is just like the moth found in Benjamin Raspail's head "an hour ago." Lecter says that "the significance of the moth is change - caterpillar into chrysalis, or pupa, and thence into beauty." (Since it is butterflies, not moths, whose pupae are called chrysalis's, Lecter is here correcting himself when he says, "or pupa"). In this meeting, Starling sells Lecter the (phony) offer from Senator Martin.

What's actually the case is that Lecter was expecting Bill to use butterflies; when Lecter finds out moths are being used instead, he knows something is not going as he had expected it to go. Then sometime after Starling's third visit, when he studies the map and the rest of the Buffalo Bill case file given to him by Starling, and finds out that Frederica Bimmel's body had been weighted down, he realizes that Gumb is trying to trick him on the true number of victims: Gumb weighted Bimmel down thinking she'd never be found, so Lecter wasn't supposed to find out about her. (If Lecter hadn't found out about Bimmel, he would have thought Catherine Martin was to be only the sixth victim).

Gumb must have met Frederica while he was living in Calumet City, Illinois, which is just outside of Chicago - recall that Frederica's father tells Starling that she had gone to Chicago for a job interview two years earlier. Once Gumb got to know Bimmel and discovered that she was a a tailor, he realized that he could take advantage of this situation by having her teach him this trade, and then murdering her and setting himself up in Mrs. Lippman's house in Belvedere, Ohio (recall that Bimmel did occasional work for Mrs. Lippman). After Gumb killed Bimmel, he skinned her, and then began assembling his 'suit' earlier than had originally been planned.

Recall that while Gumb has Catherine in his basement well, his suit needs two more patches of skin for its completion. Gumb plans for Martin to provide the seventh patch of skin for the suit (the creation of which, as we've said, represents the creation by certain parties of an 'evil kingdom'/modern-day 'utopia'); and, Gumb also wants to eliminate the possibility of Lecter's resurrection becoming an eighth day of creation, by killing and skinning an eighth girl, i.e., Gumb wants to 'pre-empt' Lecter's planned resurrection. Lecter's intention is that when Starling shows up at Gumb's doorstep, Gumb is to think that he can use Starling's thigh as the eighth and final piece for the suit. It's true that Starling is too small to provide this piece, but Lecter 'sends' her to Gumb with this in mind: Gumb is botching his attempt at creation, and is a sloppy thinker, so he would consider killing Clarice for her thigh. (Lecter knows Gumb is sloppy, because of his ineffective weighting down of Bimmel's body).

In the dorm room scene, Clarice and Ardelia are shown looking at the case file map (the same map that Crawford showed Starling on the flight to West Virginia), and it shows Lecter's writing and a large black mark made by him in West Virginia (click on image to enlarge). Ostensibly, this mark was made to denote the discovery of Gumb's sixth victim, but keeping in mind that Starling herself is from West Virginia, it was also a subtle suggestion to her, to help guide her to Gumb. Once Lecter figured out Gumb was trying to trick him, he timed the sending of Starling to Gumb, and his immediately subsequent escape and attempt at resurrection, so that he would be resurrected prior to Gumb having enough opportunity to complete the formation of the suit and pre-empt his resurrection. Since Gumb represents evil Freemasons, the fact that he is trying to cheat Lecter symbolizes that these Freemasons are attempting to cheat the evil hermaphroditic Jews (as represented by Lecter), out of their position as the leaders of the aforementioned modern-day utopia that these two (and other) evil parties are seeking to establish (this utopia being planned to be located in the United States, in southern Indiana).

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 75 of the analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


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