The Silence of the Lambs is a 1991 American neo-noir psychological horror film directed by Jonathan Demme from a screenplay written by Ted Tally, adapted from Thomas Harris's 1988 novel of the same name. The film stars Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, and Anthony Heald. In the film, Clarice Starling, a young FBI trainee, seeks the advice of the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer to apprehend another serial killer, known only as "Buffalo Bill", who skins his female victims' corpses. The novel was Harris's first and second respectively to feature the characters of Starling and Lecter, and was the second adaptation of a Harris novel to feature Lecter, preceded by the Michael Mann-directed Manhunter (1986).
The Silence of the Lambs was released on February 14, 1991, and grossed $272.7 million worldwide against its $19 million budget, becoming the fifth-highest grossing film of 1991 worldwide. The film premiered at the 41st Berlin International Film Festival, where it competed for the Golden Bear, while Demme received the Silver Bear for Best Director. Critically acclaimed upon release, it became only the third film, (the other two being It Happened One Night (1934) and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)), to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It is also the first (and so far only) Best Picture winner widely considered to be a horror film, and one of only six such films to be nominated in the category, along with The Exorcist (1973), Jaws (1975), The Sixth Sense (1999), Black Swan (2010) and Get Out (2017).
It is regularly cited by critics, film directors, and audiences alike as one of the greatest and most influential films of all time. In 2018, Empire ranked it 48th on their list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. The American Film Institute, ranked it as the 5th greatest and most influential thriller film of all time while the characters Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter were ranked as the greatest film heroine and villain respectively. The film is considered "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant by the U.S. Library of Congress and was selected to be preserved in the National Film Registry in 2011. A sequel titled Hannibal was released in 2001, in which Hopkins reprised his role. It was followed by two prequels: Red Dragon (2002) and Hannibal Rising (2007).