The film The Silence of the Lambs is a crime horror about a FBI trainee who enlists the help of a serial killer in order to catch another. The film, directed by Jonathan Demme in 1991, is based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris. It won Academy Awards in all top five categories of Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the film deal with the two serial killers, Dr. Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill/Jame Gumb, and their similarities and differences. They are both psychopathic murders with no remorse and see their victims as objects rather than people. Buffalo Bill kidnaps women, murders them, and then uses their skin as clothing. Dr. Lecter eats the organs of people who are rude and disgraceful in his eyes. Buffalo Bill views his victims as clothing; Dr. Lecter views his as food.
The fact that these two killers both view their targets as objects and not people is where their similarities end. Their main differences are their motivations and intelligence levels. Buffalo Bill is motivated by his desire to be something that he is not. His desire to become a woman stems from his obsession with his mother; however, this is an aspect of the story that is more pronounced in the novel rather than the film. He commits these heinous acts against women in the hope of becoming a woman himself. There is a metaphor in the fact that he raises moths. A moth starts out as a caterpillar but then transforms into something else entirely. Buffalo Bill wishes to change who he is out of self-hatred, and is willing to hurt innocent people to achieve his goals.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter has no such qualms or desires to change himself. He is self-aware and intelligent. Throughout the film, he is always one step ahead of everyone else and revels in the power he holds over people because of this. He understands who and what he is and embraces it. Dr. Lecter never tries to change who he is and that is what sets him apart from Buffalo Bill.
Overall, The Silence of the Lambs is a thrilling and suspenseful film. The drama, horror, and mystery come together to create an interesting story about the behavior of murderers and how they can be used against one another.