It seems justified to say that Hannibal Lecter is one of the most legendary villains of the horror genre of all time, particularly Sir Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of the character, seen first in the 1991 film The Silence Of The Lambs. When it was released, it was met with huge critical acclaim that praised Sir Anthony's and co-star Jodie Foster's performances and its thrilling plot. So it may come as a surprise that the man behind the book on which the film is based, author Thomas Harris, has never seen it.
Talking to Deadline, director of The Silence Of The Lambs Jonathan Demme explained why Harris chose not to watch the movie despite having told him that he was the perfect choice to helm and that the cast he'd selected was "sublime". The reason? He wanted to keep writing his books the way he envisioned them without the film skewing his ideas.
"It turned out that he had really been struck when John le Carré saw an episode of the BBC adaptation of his book, with Alec Guinness in the role of Smiley. Le Carré said he could never write Smiley again, because now Alec Guinness owns him," Demme told the publication. "Tom was afraid of a great performance that would take the character away from his imagination."
Considering Hopkins' praised performance as Hannibal Lecter in the drama, it was arguably a wise decision that Harris made not to watch The Silence Of The Lambs. After that movie, Harris went on to write 1999's Hannibal and 2006's Hannibal Rising (which were also turned into films), thus drawing the story he started with 1981's Red Dragon to a satisfying conclusion.
However, if he had seen Demme's film, it may have been difficult for him to try and get past (and future incarnations) of his iconic character after seeing Sir Anthony's portrayal, possibly leaving us with merely two books instead of four.
This Valentine's Day marked the 25th anniversary of The Silence Of The Lambs' release in the US, so there has been a lot of information about the original film emerging since the 14th. Such as how the initial ending to the script was much darker than the one that ended up in the movie.
The Silence Of The Lambs we all know ends when Lecter, from a payphone in the tropics, congratulates Agent Starling (Foster) and warns her not to hunt him, ending the call by saying he has to go because he is having a friend for dinner, as he watches his hospital tormenter, Dr Chilton, get off a plane. However, the original ending scripted by writer Ted Tally was a little less vague... and a lot more ominous.
In that version, Lecter is cutting orange segments with a knife, while he speaks to Starling. As he hangs up the phone, the shot widens and the audience discovers that he's at a desk in a book-lined office. There is the body of a bodyguard on the floor and Chilton is tied up in a chair across from him. Lecter rises, slowly, as he approaches his terrified victim, knife in hand, as he utters: "Shall we begin?"
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