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February 15, 1991 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1991-02-15

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,

ARTS
Friday, February 15, 1991

'he Michigan Daily

Hannibal eats the heart out of Lambs

Page 5
Bedford fleshes
out Shakespeare

The Silence of the
Lambs
dir. Jonathon Demme
by Gregg Flaxman
escending into the bowels of a
weathered Baltimore Mental Institu-
tion, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster),
a callow, southern FBI trainee,
knows only the brief but monstrous
anhunter
ir. Michael Mann
It is a very small role in a
slightly better-than-average film,
but it is a role that burns itself in
your memory forever. The charac-
ter of Hannibal Lector, who plays
a major part in the just-released Si-
lence of the Lambs, first appeared
on screen in the 1986 film Man-
hunter, and the evil that he re-
Otrains is every bit an equal to the
evil that Dennis Hopper's Frank
Booth unleashed in another film
from 1986, Blue Velvet.
Since both Manhunter and Si-
lence of the Lambs are based on
novels by Thomas Harris, Harris
deserves at least part of the credit
for creating this fascinating psy-
chotic. Lector is a brilliant psychi-
trist who happens to also be a to-
rally insane mass murderer. While
in jail, he publishes articles in
medical journals, yet the guards
are scared of simply sliding some-
thing through the tray slot of his
cell. Brian Cox deserves the rest of
the credit for his portrayal of Lec-
tor in Manhunter. Cox's Lector
shows such restrained intensity
that while he is sitting behind bars
*alking, it is apparent that he is
immeasurably intelligent and that
he would suck your brain out

history of Dr. Hannibal "the Canni-
bal" Lector (Anthony Hopkins). But
nothing - no biography, no details
of the psychiatrist's twisted con-
sumption of human organs - can
prepare Clarice for the doctor. Pos-
tured behind a plexiglass wall, Lec-
tor smiles, a placid and almost ami-
able figure with slicked-back hair and
beckoning blue eyes. It is an image
that The Silence of the Lambs leaves
as its calling card.

through your gouged eye-socket if
given the slightest chance.
Unfortunately, Lector is just
one small part of Manhunter. The
film stars William Peterson (To
Live and Die in L.A.) as an ex-FBI
agent who comes out of retirement
to track down a serial killer. To do
so, he adapts his psyche to that of
the killer so he can predict the
killer's motive and next move. As
directed by Michael "Miami
Vice" Mann, the film is neon and
flash, with the patented silhouettes
in front of an ocean sunset. In fact,
Peterson even has the Don Johnson
facial growth.
To his credit, Mann keeps the
film fast-paced, and the methods
used to analyze the crimes are
fascinating. Most of the dialogue,
however, is taken straight out of
Harris's book, and Harris has his
ear tuned to schlock talk: "It's just
you and me now, sport, and I'm
gonna find you, goddammit." The
serial killer is also straight out of a
TV cop show, which makes for a
disappointing showdown at the
end. But there is always Lector.
And if you want to increase your
anticipation of seeing Silence of
the Lambs, watch Manhunter and
imagine Lector on the loose. Brrr.
-Brent Edwards

When Clarice presents Lector
with a standard psychiatric form, he
is polite and paternal in a way that
only a psychiatrist could be. Perhaps
that's why he's able to turn the cur-
rent of the interrogation, to gain
Clarice's trust, to seize upon her
dead father and haunting childhood.
Before this interview is over, Lector
has told Clarice what skin cream and
perfume she's wearing (or wore the
day before), where she's from, even
her economic background. "Cheap
shoes," he says with deep articulate
resonance.
What begins as FBI agent Jack
Crawford's (Scott Glenn) scheme to
dupe Lector into aiding the agency's
investigation of serial killer Buffalo
Bill (Ted Levine) is perverted into an
odd bargain between Starling and the
good doctor. In exchange for infor-
mation about Buffalo Bill, Starling
slowly reveals herself and her past.
She offers herself as fodder for Lec-
tor's intuitive sensibility and cere-
bral cravings.
Clarice is ambitious enough to
surrender herself for the chance to
help nab a killer who takes horrid
pleasure in killing and skinning
women. Size 14 women. If Lector
doesn't know who the killer is, he
can figure it out. And Clarice is
bright to the degree that she presents
a fair challenge for Lector.
Foster, as rarely before, asserts a
kind of acumen and vulnerability. As
she becomes entangled in the bizarre
workings of Lector and Buffalo Bill,
she learns to play the game. She
stomachs the coronary of one of the
killer's victims, watching as a
moth's cocoon is pulled from the
dead woman's throat. Finding Buf-
falo Bill becomes a matter of obses-
sion, and questioning Lector a matter
of intrigue. Scenes of the investiga-
tion and the dialogue between Lector
and Clarice are cleverly interspersed
with glimpses of the serial killer's

gruesome "undressing" and brief
flashbacks to Clarice's past.
Director Jonathan Demme
(Something Wild, Married to the
Mob) is unexpectedly deft in bring-
ing Thomas Harris' novel to the
screen. The film is dark and slowly
writhing in a way few films are. As
opposed to Manhunter, Michael
Mann's 1986 adapation of another
Harris novel, The Silence of the
Lambs indulges far more in the psy-
chological contractions that surface
from its slick exterior. Manhunter
was diamond-like and symmetrical;
one could glean from its polished ex-
terior and sharp edges a sense of in-
sidiousness. But Demme's film,
concerned ultimately with not just a
detective but a woman detective,
tends to move away from that seam-
lessness.
Clarice is metaphorically dis-
sected by Lector and by her own
acute sense that the men around her
- Dr. Chilton (Anthony Heald), the
head of the Baltimore institute; the
police at the coronary; Buffalo Bill;
even Crawford - have hidden agen-
das that complicate the investiga-
tion. There is a subtext that only
Clarice and, strangely, Dr. Lector
understand. Just as the serial killer
violates women, so do the other
men. They ogle; they patronize; they
condescend. Even Buffalo Bill, in
commanding his next victim, calls
her "it." But it is to Demme's credit
that this undercurrent never swallows
the plot itself. The film never be-
comes an overt political statement
- only a cipher.
Ultimately, as the search for Buf-
falo Bill becomes more frantic and
desperate, Lector draws Clarice back
to her childhood and the memory of
slaughtered and screaming lambs that
she carries with her. Hopkins gives
an ominous and resounding perfor-
mance; his Lector extends to inhu-
See SILENCE, Page 8

A young actor named Brian
Bedford, no more than 22 at the
time, walked along the river
Avon in Stratford, England,
knowing that hundreds of years
earlier, a young playwright
named William Shakespeare
had done the same. On his
walk, the actor began to wonder
what that young playwright had

by Jenie Dahlmann

ford believes include clues to
the author's personality, by
characters such as Hamlet,
Richard II, and Shylock. Bed-
ford doesn't promise to solve all
of the mystery that surrounds
Shakespeare. "Shakespeare will
remain an enigma after my
show," he says, "but people's
perception of the man will be
enhanced and consequently,
their perception of his work will
most likely change."
The task of enhancing the
audience's perception of such
an important writer couldn't be
in better hands. Bedford's life-
long journey in search of
Shakespearean insight took him
to the Royal Academy of Dra-
matic Art, where his classmates
included Peter O'Toole and Al-
bert Finney. In his early 20s,
Bedford portrayed Ariel to John
Gielgud's Prospero in The Tem-
pest. Lately, he has been
spending his summers (10 to be
exact) at Canada's Stratford
Festival, where he has por-
trayed countless roles, from
Macbeth to Malvolio.
As Bedford attempts to
summarize what he wants his
audiences to take away from his
renderg of the Bard, he men-
tions the famous engraving of
Shakespeare that is often in-
cluded on the front page of any
text. It is a one-dimensional por-
trait of the important playwright.
Says Bedford, "My show is an
attempt to put some flesh and
blood into that engraving, (to)
bring Shakespeare into the
third-dimension."
THE LUNATIC, THE LOVER
AND THE POET will be pre-
sented at the Michigan Theater,
Sat. at 8 p.m. Tickets are $2650.

,, ;

,,

Bedford
been like. Who was the man
behind all those miraculous
works? Everyone knew a lot
about Othello, Romeo, and
Hamlet, but little about the
character of Shakespeare him-
self. Today, Bedford says, "I
think it was then that my obses-
sion with finding the man be-
hind the words really began."
That obsession led Bedford
to a career-long study of Shake-
spearean text, which finally cul-
minated three years ago in his
one-man show, The Lunatic,
The Lover and The Poet. This
two-hour show weaves biograph-
ical details of Shakespeare's
life with monologues that Bed-

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Opera Review
Goin' to a chapel with Mozart

by Julie Komorn
lthough Valentine's Day has
probably been shoved down your
throat, there is still one love story
that never grows old. The New
York City Opera National Com-
pany's performance of The Mar-
riage of Figaro is a special treat
that should not be missed. The ge-
nius of Mozart is clearly demon-
strated in this lively, hilarious, and
eautifully elaborate production.
In, this three-act opera, the
unforgettable music of Mozart is
wonderfully integrated with the
amusing plot of librettist Lorenzo
da Ponte. Servants Figaro and Su-
sanna want to get married, but
numerous obstacles impede their
wedding bliss.
Their master, the Count of
Almaviva, wants Susanna for
imself, while Marcellina, an old
Said, wants Figaro for her husband
as payment for an old debt. There
is also Bartolo, who wants revenge
on Figaro for foiling his own
marriage plans. As if that's not
WORK IN
BRITAIN
Spread your horizons. Live and
work in Britain legally for up to 6
months on the BUNAC program.
Meet advisors from London,
England to learn how on Tuesday,
February 19th, at 3:30 pm in the
Michigan Union Pendleton Room,
or contact Bill of Jeannine on
(313) 764-9310.

enough, there is the hysterical
Cherubino, who loves all women
but especially the Countess, while
the Countess just wants to win
back the love of her philandering
husband. After many disguises,
startling revelations, and mistaken
identities, all the lovers are even-
tually united and reconciled.
Mozart wrote The Marriage of
Figaro at the age of 30. The opera
was an instant success when it
premiered in Vienna on May 1,
1786. As the world acknowledges
the bicentennial of his death this
year, the extensive talent of the
New York City Opera helps to
keep Mozart's achievements alive.
The complex music adds texture to
the libretto, producing highly vivid
characters.
Figaro is played by bass-
baritone Eduardo Chama, whose

terrific expression and powerful
voice enriches this lovable
character. Carla Conners'
captivating soprano is well suited
for Susanna's many lively duets,
as well as for the beautiful, lan-
guid aria, "Deh vieni, non tardar."
The sweetness of Countess Alma-
viva is wonderfully brought out by

& Figaro
soprano Laurinda Nikkel in such
arias as "Porgi, Amor" and "Dove
Sono." The randy Count, played by
Richard Byrne, also sings several
moving solos.
Laughter is inevitable during
the show. One of the most amusing
scenes is the sextet, "Riconosci in
See FIGARO, Page 8

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