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Where to Watch or Read All Things ‘Silence of the Lambs’

CBS drama "Clarice" is the latest project in Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter universe. Revisit every book, movie, and TV show here.

"The Silence of the Lambs"

Can you imagine Michelle Pfeiffer as Clarice? Well, director Jonathan Demme was dead set on making the “What Lies Beneath” star his rookie FBI agent lead. However, like Gene Hackman, Pfeiffer was worried about the “evil” captured in the film.

“I was uncomfortable with that ending,” Pfeiffer recalled to The New Yorker in Feb. 2021. “I didn’t want to put that out into the world.” 

Meanwhile, Oscar winner Jodie Foster had been in a bidding war with Hackman for the rights to the film. Upon losing out, Foster fought to land the role of Clarice. Demme was rumored to have not been a fan of Foster’s accent in “The Accused,” but after meeting with Foster in person, Demme changed his mind and ultimately cast Foster in the iconic role

And, 30 years later, Pfeiffer regrets not collaborating again with her “Married to the Mob” director Demme. 

Orion Pictures

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The CBS drama “Clarice” might not necessarily live up to its “Silence of the Lambs” source material — at least not yet, according to Ben Travers’ IndieWire review of the new show — but it will definitely remind you just how good Jonathan Demme’s Oscar-winning 1991 movie is.

The series takes place a year after the events of “Silence of the Lambs,” and stars Rebecca Breeds as young FBI upstart Clarice Starling (the role made famous by Jodie Foster in Demme’s film). If you’re interested in checking out the show as it finds its crime-solving groove, you can stream it via CBS All Access (soon to be Paramount+). Plans start at $5.99 per month, and you’ll also have access to the company’s extensive library.

The show is based on Thomas Harris’ 1988 book “Silence of the Lambs,” the sequel to “Red Dragon” — a.k.a. the story that introduced cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter to the world. (Interestingly, the “Clarice” show cannot mention the name Hannibal Lecter, because the rights to that character are tied to “Red Dragon,” and “Clarice” is based on “Silence of the Lambs.”) If you’ve never read the author’s four novels, they chronicle the character’s journey from respected forensic psychiatrist to incarcerated killer.

Since Hannibal Lecter’s introduction, the character has been portrayed in five different films, including “Silence of the Lambs,” plus Bryan Fuller’s celebrated NBC series “Hannibal.”

If watching “Clarice” had you itching to revisit the world created by Harris, you’re in luck: We’ve listed below where to buy his four books — “Red Dragon,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Hannibal,” and “Hannibal Rising” — and where to watch each of the other projects inspired by them.

Hannibal Lecter 4-Book Series

This handy package contains paperback copies of all four of Harris’ Hannibal Lecter books (“Red Dragon,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Hannibal,” and “Hannibal Rising”) for less than $30. Or, if you prefer to buy them all individually, you can certainly do that.

“Red Dragon” Book

The official summary: FBI agent Will Graham once risked his sanity to capture Hannibal Lecter, an ingenious killer like no other. Now, he’s following the bloodstained pattern of the Tooth Fairy, a madman who’s already wiped out two families. To find him, Graham has to understand him. To understand him, Graham has only one place left to go: the mind of Dr. Lecter.

“The Silence of the Lambs” Book

A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname — Buffalo Bill — is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter — Hannibal the Cannibal — who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

“Hannibal” Book

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter escaped from custody, seven years since FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling interviewed him in a maximum security hospital for the criminally insane. The doctor is still at large, pursuing his own ineffable interests, savoring the scents, the essences of an unguarded world. But Starling has never forgotten her encounters with Dr. Lecter, and the metallic rasp of his seldom-used voice still sounds in her dreams.

Mason Verger remembers Dr. Lecter, too, and is obsessed with revenge. He was Dr. Lecter’s sixth victim, and he has survived to rule his own butcher’s empire. From his respirator, Verger monitors every twitch in his worldwide web. Soon he sees that to draw the doctor, he must have the most exquisite and innocent-appearing bait; he must have what Dr. Lecter likes best.

“Hannibal Rising” Book

Hannibal Lecter emerges from the nightmare of the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck. He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him. Hannibal’s uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle’s beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki. Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France. But Hannibal’s demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn. He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death’s prodigy.

“The Silence of the Lambs” (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Straight from Criterion:

In this chilling adaptation of the best-selling novel by Thomas Harris, the astonishingly versatile director Jonathan Demme crafted a taut psychological thriller about an American obsession: serial murder. As Clarice Starling, an FBI trainee who enlists the help of the infamous Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecter to gain insight into the mind of another killer, Jodie Foster subverts classic gender dynamics and gives one of the most memorable performances of her career. As her foil, Anthony Hopkins is the archetypal antihero — cultured, quick-witted, and savagely murderous — delivering a harrowing portrait of humanity gone terribly wrong. A gripping police procedural and a disquieting immersion into a twisted psyche, “The Silence of the Lambs” swept the Academy Awards (best picture, director, screenplay, actress, actor) and remains a cultural touchstone.

Approved by director of photography Tak Fujimoto, the special edition features a new 4K digital restoration; audio commentary featuring Demme, Foster, Hopkins, and more; 38 minutes of deleted scenes, and hours of interviews and behind-the-scenes content. (You can also just rent or buy the non-Criterion edition of the film via Amazon here.)

“Hannibal” Series

Critics were way more excited about Bryan Fuller’s NBC drama “Hannibal” than they are about “Clarice,” and you can revisit the series — which stars Mads Mikkelsen as the titular character, a brilliant FBI psychiatrist, and Hugh Dancy as his protégé, FBI agent Will Graham.


Brian Cox plays Lecter in this first adaptation of Harris’ “Red Dragon” novel. (Officially, the logline reads, “A former FBI agent with a strange sixth sense is called in to help with a murder investigation before the killer gets a chance to strike again.”)


Ridley Scott’s 2001 film sees Hopkins reprise his role as the titular killer as he escapes and is pursued by FBI agent Starling and an Italian police inspector, “for different reasons that ultimately converge around a disfigured victim bent on brutal revenge.” Julianne Moore and Ray Liotta also star.

“Red Dragon”

Hopkins takes on the role once again as Lecter teams up with former FBI agent Will Graham to help track down a gruesome serial killer. Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes also star.

“Hannibal Rising”

In “Red Dragon” we learned who he was. In “Silence of the Lambs” we learned how he did it. Now comes the most chilling chapter in the life of Hannibal Lecter — the one that answers the most elusive question of all — why? Gaspard Ulliel plays the character, alongside Aaran Thomas and Li Gong.

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