The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Screenplay Genre: Crime / Thriller

Movie Time: 118 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

FBI Academy student Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) arrives at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane to present a VICAP questionnaire to the notorious Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer. At the end of their first encounter, Lecter offers Starling a riddle containing information about a former patient of his. (00:12:23)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

After solving the riddle, which leads to a storage garage where Starling discovers the severed head of Benjamin Raspail, the former patient, she returns to Lecter, who links Raspail to Buffalo Bill, another serial killer who skins his victims. Lecter offers to provide a psychological profile of Buffalo Bill based on the case file only if he's transferred to a facility with a view and away from Dr. Chilton. (00:27:13)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

Starling visits Lecter a third time, promising the prison transfer under the condition that Lecter's profile allows the FBI to rescue Buffalo Bill's latest abduction, Catherine Martin, the daughter of a U.S. Senator, but Chilton discovers the deal is fake and offers Lecter a deal of his own. Lecter refuses to identify Buffalo Bill by name unless he's flown to Tennessee so he can tell the Senator himself. (00:59:29)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Soon after Sterling visits Lecter a final time, now at his special cell in a Tennessee courthouse, Lecter escapes. SWAT arrives to find one of the guards barely alive and the other disemboweled and strung up on the bars. Paramedics transport the survivor to an ambulance, but when SWAT discovers Lecter's body in the elevator shaft, the survivor in the ambulance peels off his face, revealing Lecter in disguise. (1:21:39).

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

While Starling's superior Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) leads a SWAT team to a house in Calumet City, Illinois, the location they believe is Buffalo Bill's lair, Starling follows a lead from interviews she conducted surrounding Buffalo Bill's first victim and arrives at the house of "Jack Gordon", who Starling soon realizes is actually Buffalo Bill. She draws her weapon just as the killer disappears in the basement. (1:39:51)


×

Wait! We've got a secret.

 

Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you TWO of our e-books, completely free:

220 Plot Point Breakdowns (new!)

AND

TSL's Encyclopedia of Screenwriting

 

×

Exclusive Special: Sign up for our newsletter to receive a coupon for 30% off the new Final Draft 10!  You won't find a deal better than this anywhere on the internet.