As The Silence of the Lambs opens, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is jogging through the woods at the FBI’s training academy at Quantico when she’s told to report immediately to her superior Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn). As she runs back, she passes a series of signs nailed to a tree: HURT, AGONY, PAIN, LOVE IT, PRIDE. Back in the building, she walks into an elevator and is instantly surrounded by men looming over her, a couple of them regarding her somewhat derisively. It’s one of the most iconic shots in a film filled with them, and it’s only a few seconds long.
Beginning with that elevator, the director Jonathan Demme spends much of the movie putting characters in boxes or cages where they can be examined, pressured, or even tormented. He’s not subtle about the fact that his protagonist is a woman in a macho man’s world, nor that