The Silence of the Lambs

Harrison Smith and Liam Foley

Quality of Adaptation

Movie adaptations of books vary greatly, ranging from exact adaptations to movies merely based on the ideas the book present. Thomas Harris' "Silence of the Lambs" is awarded as an almost exact movie representation, and a movie made so well, that many even claim it is better than the book. The film was so good, that it became the third film in academy award history to sweep the main categories at the Oscar's.

The Author

Thomas Harris wrote the original "Silence of the Lambs," along with the rest of the Hannibal series. "Silence of the Lambs" is the third novel in his series, following "Red Dragon."

The Screenplay

Ted Tally was in charge of screenplay for the book's adaptation. Tally's most notable credit is the screenplay for The Silence of the Lambs, which won him the Academy Award for Best Screenplay as well as the Writers Guild of America Award, Chicago Film Critics Award and an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

The Director's Approach

The director for The Silence of the Lambs film was Jonathan Demme, a critically acclaimed director in the movie industry. He worked alongside producer Roger Corman in the 1970s to jump-start his career. After that, he went on to direct several different movies and documentaries before the masterpiece that is The Silence of the Lambs. In the novel, Thomas Harris focuses a lot of the story on the psychological games that are played throughout The Silence of the Lambs. Demme, however, takes a more political approach when directing this film. While still maintaining the needed focus on psychological games, Demme chose to also focus a lot on the effect of the gender roles in the film. This is not necessarily for the betterment of the work, because less time is spent enhancing the theme of the story, and more time is spent trying to express how oppressed women are. Then again, it's all about perspective and everyone's opinion is different.

Differences (Gender Roles)

The main differences that can be seen throughout the movie are not plot differences, but thematic differences as a whole. One of these can be seen as the difference in the importance of defying gender roles. In the movie adaptation, you can visually see Clarice get weird looks and weird comments from passersby's. The only one who truly sees Clarice as an equal regardless of gender is Doctor Lecter.


There are a lot of similarities between the novel and film of The Silence of the Lambs. First of all, aside from the difference in gender roles, the characters are almost identical in nature and in presence. Also, the setting is very much the same, except for the movie is somewhat better in representing the dynamic setting. Lastly, the conflicts that arise in both the film and novel all concern the same people, with the same problems, such as a certain murder, or Doctor Lecter conflicting with Clarice's emotions.