The Silence of the Lambs : How to Establish Dominance

The Silence of the Lambs Dominance

<img src="The-Silence-of-the-Lambs-Bhushan-Mahadani.jpg" alt="he Silence of the Lambs Bhushan Mahadani">

The Silence of the Lambs is my all time favorite movie. It was only the third film to win Oscars in all the top five categories: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Adapted Screenplay. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins were outstanding. But today we will learn something different from The Silence of the Lambs which is domination.


When the Fox hears the Rabbit scream he comes a-runnin’, but not to help.

The Silence of the Lambs is the perfect example for the character domination. Where there are two characters one character always dominates other. If the domination isn’t there then the scene will be flat and boring. All great movies have domination within the characters. At times both the characters are at same position but gradually a character starts dominating other. Its not necessary that only protagonist dominates, when antagonists dominates protagonists  it becomes more interesting. The best two examples are  The Silence of the Lambs where  Hannibal Lecter dominates Clarice Starling and The Dark Knight where Joker dominates Batman.

There are many ways of showing domination. Tony Zhou from Every Frame Of Painting has come up with a excellent video essay. Lets first watch the video essay The Silence of the Lambs – Who Wins the Scene?

Here are the main points about the above scene.

  • Scene starts with the the camera on eye level of both the characters.
  • Then the framing changes as Hannibal tells Clarice that her FBI ID will be expiring in one week. He gets more aggressive and she get bit defensive.
  • As Hannibal gets aggressive camera goes to his low angle shot and as Clarice gets defensive  her camera becomes high angle shot.
  • As I have discussed in my previous post What Is Low Angle Shot & When And How To Use It? low angle shot denotes domination or aggression and high angle shot denotes defense.
  • Hannibal looks directly in Clarice’s eyes as he is aggressive where as she is not looking in his eyes.
  • Then Clarice gets aggressive and looks directly in his eyes and he gets bit defensive and doesn’t look her.

There are many such observations in the video essay about who dominates when. I leave it to you to find out as an exercise. Please let me your thoughts in the comment box below and subscribe for the news letter above.

Here is an another exercise where you have to find who is dominating whom and when.

Pic Credit

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