Feb 10, 2007

A New 'Silence': Not Exactly Precious

washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 30, 2007; 12:00 AM

"The Silence of the Lambs: Collector's Edition" (Rated R; List price: $26.98)
Release Date: Jan. 30

There can only be one reason why MGM decided to issue yet another DVD version of "Silence of the Lambs," and that reason can be summed up in two words: "Hannibal Rising." The studio is clearly hoping to raise awareness about the upcoming theatrical release, which focuses on Hannibal Lecter's teenage years, by reminding audiences how disturbingly effective the Oscar-winning "Lambs" was. If a few consumers get confused and assume this means that Anthony Hopkins reprises his creepy cannibal role in the new movie, then so be it. (He doesn't, by the way.)

Of course, this is hardly the first time a DVD has been used as a piece of cross-promotion. But perhaps it seems more egregious in this case because this collector's edition, one of several "Silences" that now exist on DVD, boasts several "all-new" features that aren't really new at all. For example, the "all-new" "Page to Screen" documentary, while occasionally interesting, is just a repurposed Bravo special from 2002. And the "all-new" featurette on the film's score has a copyright date of 2004.

Then there are the extras that don't even pretend to be fresh, like the outtakes reel or the 22 deleted scenes, both of which appeared on the special edition issued in 2001. Of course, the redundancies only matter if you already own a copy of "Silence of the Lambs." If you don't, this jam-packed, two-disc set might go down as smoothly as a nice Chianti. The one-hour "Inside the Labyrinth" documentary, also from the 2001 release, offers a particularly detailed and fascinating look at how the movie -- the only horror film to ever sweep several of the major Oscar categories, including Best Picture -- came together. Another clever touch: A series of recipes from Hannibal Lecter tucked inside the box (hint: hope you like fava beans).

And then there's the movie itself, which remains chilling and remarkably timeless considering it's nearly 16 years old. Any fan of the horror genre or collector of Academy Award-winning DVDs would be remiss not to have this in their collection. But if you already own it, think twice about investing in a "Lambs" that may look remarkably similar to the one you already have.

Tastiest Bonus Point: During the "Inside the Labyrinth" doc, professional moth wrangler Ray Mendez explains how he created the winged creature lodged in the throat of one of serial killer Buffalo Bill's victims. He crafted it out of Gummi Bears and Tootsie Rolls, just in case the actress swallowed it. Yummy.

Best Celebrity Trivia Bonus Point: The DVD's documentaries reveal that the part of Hannibal Lecter was initially offered to both Gene Hackman (who also was originally slated to direct) and Sean Connery, and that Michelle Pfeiffer turned down the role of Clarice Starling before Jodie Foster snatched it up.

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