Silence of the Lambs breakdown, part 4
Finishing off this full story breakdown of the classic film (and classic teaching movie!) Silence of the Lambs.
SEQUENCE SEVEN: He covets what he sees. Frederica Bimmel.
1.25 We start with a brief glimpse of Buffalo Bill at his sewing machine, stitching very pale leather. (Which we might at this point understand—at any rate, it’s a CLUE, and should escalate our FEAR and the URGENCY of the situation. And I really need to stop and take a respect moment for screenwriter Ted Tally: he was brilliant at stripping down the novel to film length and rearranging some scenes and revelations to create a trail of logical clues.)
In Clarice’s dorm room, Clarice and Ardelia go through the case file and find a note from Lecter written on the map that Crawford gave her early on, with the locations of the body dump sites (remember I said the map was a TALISMAN and a GIFT FROM MENTOR?), which Lecter has written on, calling the body dumps “desperately random.” Clarice remembers the first girl killed was the third found, because she was weighted down. None of the others were. Clarice and Ardelia piece together what Lecter said, fixing on: “He covets what he sees every day”—and they realize Buffalo Bill knew Frederica Bimmel— who lived in Belvedere, Ohio.
This scene with Ardelia is of course that crucial REVELATION, the dawn that comes as a double punch after the ALL IS LOST moment. But it’s also an example of an important step that often happens in Sequence Six—or as here, at the beginning of Sequence Seven—when new help surfaces for the hero/ine in a scene that mythologist Joseph Campbell called THE VISIT TO THE GODDESS.
In typical sexist Hollywood style, Vogler left this step (and many others!) of the Mythic Journey out of his Cliff’s Notes version of Campbell, The Writer’s Journey, so I’m here to say that this can be an extremely powerful scene or whole sequence.
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