I may be going out on a limb here, but I assume at least 95% of you out there know this film’s story, so I’ll skip the usual plot recitation. Those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet: get thee to a video store, or Netflix or whatever, and meet us back here.
Okay, now that we’re on the same page, let’s take a look at this new two-disc Collector’s Edition, which ports over the bonus features found on the original single-disc Special Edition but adds some great new material. Unfortunately, there’s no commentary to be found, so the movie sits alone on disc one.
Director Jonathan Demme joined Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, screenwriter Ted Tally, and FBI agent/consultant John Douglas for a commentary found on the original Criterion DVD release of this film. I’ve never heard it, but I understand that it’s really good. Luckily, completists should be able to pick it up fairly cheap on eBay. Too bad MGM couldn’t license the track from Criterion, or bring together at least some of the participants for a new commentary.
However, all of those folks, minus Hopkins, do show up for the new documentary materials found on disc two. First up is “The Silence of the Lambs: Page to Screen,” which digs into the film’s origins, mining such bits of trivia as Gene Hackman’s original involvement (he even pops in to say why he wound up not doing it) and author Thomas Harris’ inspiration for his best-selling novel. Many other members of the cast and crew show up in this exhaustive 41-minute piece that’s hosted by Peter Gallagher. It originally aired on Bravo.
Next up is a 52-minute documentary made by Laurent Bouzereau, who many DVD fans may remember as the guy behind some classic documentaries, including the ones on the “Jaws” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” Special Editions. (He also wrote that cool book, “Star Wars: The Annotated Screenplays,” for those of you keeping score at home. Yes, I just geeked out, and somewhere in my house, my wife sensed it and rolled her eyes. We’ll see if she ever gets around to reading this review.) It takes us through the casting phase (Michelle Pfeiffer and Sean Connery? Yikes!) and into the filming process, culminating in the movie’s release to misplaced gay protests and all those Academy Awards. Fans of the film will eat this stuff up, with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Speaking of which, MGM also threw in five recipe cards that say “Dr. Hannibal Lecter requests the pleasure of your company for dinner” on one side. Despite my last name, I’m not much of a cook, but those look like real recipes to me. None of them call for a leg of man or anything like that. MGM also tossed in a two-page insert that includes the chapter listing and a brief text piece about the movie. Nice to see at least one of the major studios doesn’t mind killing a few trees to add to our DVD fun.
Getting back to bonus features of the digital sort, the final new extra is “Scoring the Silence,” a 15-minute featurette that looks at the origins of Howard Shore’s moody score, complete with interview clips from the composer himself. I admit I’m someone who tends not to think about music while I’m watching a movie, preferring to let it complete the feel while I contemplate the story, so it’s always nice to hear what someone like Shore was considering as he created his score.
As if that isn’t enough, MGM also included the original 2001 documentary “Inside the Labyrinth: Making of the Silence of the Lambs,” which runs about an hour. It certainly covers some of the territory discussed in the other documentaries, but it also adds new tidbits, and it features comments from Hopkins. Fans will be glad they can safely get rid of the original Special Edition, since this Collector’s Edition also brings over the original eight-minute 1991 making-of featurette, which is your typical EPK fare.
Still not satisfied? How about 20 minutes of deleted scenes and other bits trimmed from existing scenes? Two minutes of outtakes? Anthony Hopkins’ creepy answering machine message? TV spots and trailers? Over 100 behind-the-scenes photos? All of that can also be yours, if you act now. Hannibal Lecter is waiting to take your order. Don’t keep him waiting.