Sunday, 22 March 2015

Book vs Movie: The Silence of the Lambs

If you've read through my profile you'll know that the Hannibal series is on my list of favourite movies and The Silence of the Lambs has been for many years. For some odd reason I hadn't bothered to read it, I had read one out of the Hannibal series - Hannibal Rising but never the others. Then while in college, living in a small apartment over a used book store for a short period I spotted The Silence of the Lambs out on their sidewalk table and I snapped it up - I had to read it. It sat on my shelves though, along with the other books I had got at the same time and never bothered to read. Then a few things happened:

1. Project TBR
2. 0x16
3. 2015 reading challenge

So I looked at the challenges and decided to mash them together, I would try and fill my challenge topics with mostly old books sitting on my shelf and so The Silence of the Lambs was lifted from the dust again.

If you don't know what this book is about then at this point I'm guessing that you probably don't want to, but here you are anyways.

A young agent in training for the FBI named Clarice Starling yearns for acceptance to the FBI. Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the famous cannibal sits locked in an asylum after being caught for serial murder. Dead girls are found floating, pieces of skin taken from their bodies, and somewhere a man they call 'Buffalo Bill' is plotting his next strike. With the FBI overloaded and under pressure to solve the serial murders, Section Chief Jack Crawford calls on Starling to assist in some information gathering. Soon Starling finds herself face to face with none other than Hannibal Lecter and though terrible she's intrigued by the small bits of information he provides. It doesn't take long and she finds herself on the case, chasing down the notorious Buffalo Bill.

The book is just as brilliant as the movie, and at the same time a bit of a let down because of it. As someone who has read another of the Hannibal books, which was adapted much later to film (Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris) and was pleased to find some differences, I'm not pleased to say there wasn't much this time around. If you've watched the movie and are looking to read the book for those left out scenes and things that have been changed for the cinematic universe, you will be disppointed.

Though this book is well written and I'm sure would have been creepy, suspenseful and just the right amount of thrilling excitement, it was lost because of the movie. I wish I had had the sense at 14 to read the book before I ever let the movie play across the screen. The movie is <i>very</i> similar to the book, sure there are some differences, you learn more about Jack Crawford, you learn a little more about Buffalo Bill and how he goes about his plans, but mostly you get Clarice Starling and some slightly altered conversations with most of it being the same.

Though some may suggest otherwise, I wouldn't say that having the characters in your mind from the movie coming into this book is a bad thing. There really isn't much by the means of physical description given to the main character - Clarice, and minimal descriptors to the other characters. With things being so much the same it's very easy to picture <i>everything</i> in the book. Kudos to the directors and everyone behind the making of the movie, their adaptation was spot on, no one should have need to read the book.

The main differences you'll see between the two have mostly to do with the investigation. The book puts Starling as a bit more of a rule breaker, an agent willing to bend the rules a bit, willing to get kicked out of the academy in order to get the bad guy. Just like the movie, there is never something not happening within these 367 pages, things connecting, clues being left and leads to follow. I can totally understand why this book rose to the popularity that it did, especially in the year that it did. Today it's not as much the shocking thriller it was meant to be, in my own opinion anyways, with things like the Hunger Games - children murdering children classifying as a young adult novel.

Though the book was very well written and should have been a spectacular read, I wish I didn't take the time to read it - the movie did that for me.

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