August 26, 2011


The Silence of The Lambs Movie Beat Sheet

1. Opening Image
A tree (with no leafs) in the woods - foggy, fall-like weather. (A sweaty Clarice soon climbs up into view)
2. Theme Stated
Clarice (FBI trainee) is assigned the task of talking to Hannibal in an effort to get information on a serial killer - Buffalo Bill.
3. Set-Up
Clarice is warned to not let Hannibal inside her head. She goes to the asylum to see Hannibal & to get him to fill out a questionnaire. He challenges her & she fights back, questioning his courage. Hannibal still won't help her.
4. Catalyst - Inciting Incident
Another inmate tosses sperm at her
5. Debate
  • Appalled, Hannibal still refuses to fill out the questionnaire BUT he does offer her a hint to catching Buffalo Bill & to advance her career.
  • She follows the clues, which lead to a dead body. Clarice now knows that Hannibal could help her the rest of the way.
6. Break into Two
Hannibal agrees to continue to help her, but he wants a room with a view in exchange, and time is running out as the killer searches for his next victim.
7. B Story
Buffalo Bill captures his next victim.
8. Fun and Games
The hunt is on as Clarice investigates: autopsy of past victim, finds an exotic moth, meets with moth experts. The latest victim is the daughter of a Senator.
9. Tentpole - Midpoint - Reversal
The FBI agrees on terms to make Hannibal's stay more pleasant BUT only if the Senator's daughter lives & Buffalo Bill is caught. Hannibal agrees to help BUT only if Clarice opens up to him. Quid pro quo.
10. Bad Guys Close In
  • Hannibal tells her that Bill was probably rejected for transsexual operation, but she gives up some personal information on her running away as a child.
  • Bill pressures his victim.
  • The chief psychiatrist tells Hannibal that the FBI is lying to him.
  • We learn that the offer Clarice made was phoney by the FBI and the Senator is angry.
  • Hannibal is being tranferred. The Senator agrees to it. He provides information to her.
11. All Is Lost
Clarice is desperate. She needs information & has little time to get it as Hannibal is moments away from being transferred. Time for Quid pro quo.
12. Dark Night of the Soul
  • She's forced to tell her most personal secret regarding the slaughter of the lambs.
  • After Clarice leaves, Hannibal kills the guards.
13. Break into Three
Hannibal escapes posing as an injured officer.
14. Finale - Confrontation
  • Buffalo Bill sews skin from previous victim.
  • Clarice figures out that the moth victim is the first one & therefore Buffalo Bill knew her.
  • She follows her lead while the FBI follows a false lead that Hannibal gave to the Senator.
  • She questions Buffalo Bill, figures out he's the killer, confronts and kills him, saving the girl.
15. Aftermath
Clarice graduates. She gets a call from Hannibal, who has the Chief Psychiatrist in his sights. The psychiatrist is on the run, hiding from Hannibal.
16. Final Image
Hannibal walking through the crowd on an island with palm trees on a sunny day.
Some might place Clarice’s slaughtering of the lambs revelation at the end of the “Bad guys close in” beat, but I feel it works perfectly in the “Dark night of the soul” as she clearly doesn’t want to reveal this and is a poignant moment in the story.


About Lisa

Passionate about movies and writing. Hopes to someday be a published writer. So when she's not staring at the tube, she's spilling her imagination onto a blank page.

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