‘Silence of the Lambs’: The horror movie Mark Mylod calls “cinematic perfection”

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Throughout his career, Mark Mylod has shown a versatile nature that is quite unlike any of his contemporaries. The English director took his first steps in the entertainment industry by directing comedy shows like The Fast Show and The Royle Family and movies such as Ali G Indahouse and The Big White.

Before long, Mylod turned his attention to drama television, with the likes of Entourage, The Affair, Game of Thrones and Succession all profiting from possessing his brilliance and talent behind the camera. At the head of Mylod’s career, though, is his 2022 black comedy film The Menu, which received universal acclaim.

With such varied filmography, it’s interesting to think of the kinds of films and television shows that have influenced Mylod the most. Fortunately, the director once stated his favourite movies of all time in a feature with A-Frame, and after pointing out the likes of The Graduate, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Spy Who Loved Me, Mylod turned his attention to the movie he considers to be “cinematic perfection”.

Discussing the classic 1991 psychological horror thriller The Silence of the Lambs, directed by Jonathan Demme, based on Thomas Harris’ 1988 novel of the same name and starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, Mylod proceeded to say that he felt it “an extraordinary film on every level”.

Foster plays Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, a young FBI trainee tasked with hunting down a dangerous serial killer going by the name of ‘Buffalo Bill’. In order to learn more about his motives, Clarice consults a former psychiatrist and convicted cannibalistic serial killer played by Hopkins, the fearsome and enigmatic Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

What Mylod admired the most about The Silence of the Lambs is the way that Clarice’s character managed to explore “gender politics” as far back as the early 1990s. “[She] is just trying to ascend and find her place in an incredibly sexist world,” Mylod explained. “As a film about someone trying to transcend their white trash background and as an exploration of Clarice Starling as a character, The Silence of the Lambs is incredible.”

However, it wasn’t just Clarice that blew Mylod away when he saw Demme’s film for the first time, but “the bravura of the filmmaking and the attention to the detail of every face you see in it.” Bar David Fincher’s 1995 crime thriller Se7en, Mylod had never seen such “patina, grime, and sense of decay as The Silence of the Lambs.”

But beyond the gritty quality of the 1991 classic, the director also found “so much humanity at the centre” of it. “It’s an incredible movie,” he said. Widely considered one of the greatest films ever made, The Silence of the Lambs brought in a huge box office as well as widespread success at the Academy Awards, winning ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Actor’, ‘Best Actress’ and ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’, proving its status as a cinematic gem.

Mylod signed off his thoughts on The Silence of the Lambs by admitting that it had been on his mind when he came to make The Menu and explore the many interpersonal relationships of its narrative. “What served as a big touchstone for me with The Menu was also, of course, the ideological duel and connection that’s shared by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster’s characters,” Mylod said. “It’s just sheer genius.”

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