This one physically hurt me! I finally saw Silence of the Lambs just a few weeks ago, alone and late at night, and I was riveted by everything about this movie, even though it terrified me. Ultimately though, I had to go with T2, because as much as I love every part of Silence, I’m just not sure I can watch it again any time soon. I think it’s a better movie than T2, but T2 is simply more fun to watch. Silence of the Lambs is going to live in the dark recesses of my memory, waiting sinisterly like Hannibal Lester. Besides, I’m not sure I want to live in a world where the Sarah Connor escape scene just doesn’t exist any more.
I voted once each because what a weird matchup.
Here's my reasoning for keeping Silence of the Lambs over T2: as time passes T2 will undoubtedly lose more and more of it's liquid metal sheen and become primarily appreciated as an example of what a really good 90s movie was, though not necessarily a really good movie of ALL time. On the other hand Silence, rooted in psychological horror, gender politics, and with its exceedingly well plotted mystery thriller elements, is better equipped to stand the test of time. And also it just is the better movie.
Two 5* movies going head to head. How to decide? I thought I had an easy solution, but as I write it out, I'm not so sure...
Part of what makes Terminator 2 great is the way it flips the script from the first film. I don't remember how or when I originally watched the two movies, but I sort of feel like I probably saw T2 on cable first and then went back and saw the original, but in my mind, I still imagine what it would have been like to see Arnold & the T800 become the good guy. I almost discounted this from being picked, because per the Filmspotting Madness rules, we're losing all these films. I sort of bundled the original Terminator in that, but as I write I kind of realize we're not destroying EVERY film, just the 71 that don't win this tournament... So there goes that easy out.
Silence of the Lambs does have that Oscar clout—Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director AND Best Adapted Screenplay. But even T2 has 4 Oscars (albeit in smaller, more technical categories)... If I were playing by the rules of what movie would I want to watch right now, it'd probably be T2—it's such a fun, action movie I could watch any time. But if I'm respecting the rules, and I'm destroying one never to be seen again, I think I'd have to sacrifice T2 like Arnold does (thumbs up and all) because Silence of the Lambs is a film I haven't watched in years and I really would hate for it to be gone forever before I could watch it again. My vote goes to Demme (RIP).
There it is, there's that now familiar sense of dread at having to choose which part of yourself to cut off and cast away and which one you get to keep. For now.
T2 and Silence of the Lambs are both in my personal Top 10 for very similar reasons. They both elevate the pulpy origins of their stories, not by sneering at or downplaying or squirming out of the sensationalist nature of their stories, but by burrowing further into the their stories. T2 is nominally about two time traveling borderline invincible robots fighting over a mewling human. That's a great premise for anyone out to make a entertaining action film, but James Cameron was not at all content with that. The livid beating heart and conscience of T2 is the scarred psyche of Sarah Hamilton as she wrestles with the demons of the past and the weight of the future and ultimately strives to carve out her own path. Amidst her struggle to live out "No fate but what we make" we also get an audacious and brilliantly executed action film whose second largest action set piece features a near invincible robot deliberately avoiding killing people. T2 is all about wrestling with complicated moral questions as well as being a great action movie. But it did not get my vote this time.
Because on the other side of this battle is The Silence of the Lambs. Right now, you would be hard pressed to find a day of the week that doesn't feature re-runs of a show where profiling serial killers isn't taken for granted, but in 1991, Jonathan Demme, Ted Tally, Tak Fujimoto (his DP), and the cast, especially Scott Glenn, Anthony Hopkins, Ted Levine, and Jody Foster don't take any of that for granted. Silence
is constantly reckoning with how a psyche survives contact with the most brutal things human beings do to one another and that's before Clarice has to wrestle with the malevolently well directed probing of Hannibal Lecter. Silence is utterly pulpy and resolutely focused on exploring complex psychologies and psychopathies. On top of all of that, The Silence of the Lambs is an extraordinarily beautiful film about very ugly things, a friggin' master class in the many emotional uses of the close up.
Having to choose between these films is a situation that Hannibal Lecter would have delighted in, probing a squirming soul in the throes of its greatest challenge. I'm choosing The Silence of the Lambs, but the edge is as fine as the filleting knife Lecter surely kept in his kitchen.
Silence is not only my favorite movie of the 90s, but my favorite of all time. T2 was an important film for sci-fi and special effects, but the story was just more of the same. I’m sorry Arnold, but you are that old friend that Hannibal had for dinner.
Happy to Silence those Lambs. The idea of Skynet is more terrifying than Buffalo Bill and Hannibal Lecter.
At first glance, I thought this one was going to be a tough battle but when I sat down to vote, it became a complete no-brainer. Silence of the Lambs is a marvel. I've watched it at least 2 dozen times, including 4 times in the theater. I even edited a version for my mom when it came out on video and haphazardly cut out the most distressing parts so she'd watch it. "He can't get to her through the glass, right? Because if he does, just turn it off." Clarice Starling is an all time great lead character and performance. Foster is equal parts vulnerable and naive, and determined and bold. Hannibal Lecter may be the most terrifying character ever put on screen. Think about the economy of movement and vocal control by Hopkins in this film. It's astonishing to see what he can do with only 24 minutes of screen time essentially existing within a 8x8 cell. Demme's love of closeups and faces proved to be the perfect marriage of material, character and direction. Lecter's escape and Clarice's take-down of Buffalo Bill (a GREAT Ted Levine) are masterclasses in suspense. Rewatching it recently, I think it's in my top 5 all-time.
I was always too busy laughing at the over-the-top characters and performances in Silence to take the movie seriously and feel any thrills. T2 is a bit cheesy and sentimental, but I'd rather watch it again over Silence any day.
T2 is just The Terminator with an extra fifty minutes of Arnold learning to smile. Silence of the Lambs is a movie that makes... choices. Not all of them successful, or even pleasant to return to, but it still feels purposeful. Plus: Hopkins!
T2 is one of the 90'sest movie possible. It could exist in no other time. The lingo is dated, but it fits in a movie about a machine returning to a specific time period. That's the beauty of time travel movies. What is face palmingly aggravating in other movies of the era is mood setting in this. It is the end of an era for blockbuster adult action, and so, it is a very special film.
But, Silence of the Lambs is hands down better. More thrills per minute as far as I'm concerned, and more for your mind to do while being thrilled. Presujmably we still have The Abyss from Cameron right?
Terminator 2 is okay. One fleeting Thumbs up just before it is consumed in molten metal.
Silence of the Lambs is better. Jody Foster and that Hopkins chap are really good in it. So, yeah, lets all agree and vote for Silence of the lambs here.
When Terminator 2 came out, a friend said it was "more fun to watch, but not as fun to think about" than its predecessor. I agreed, and even with its technical achievements, it still wasn't overall a better film than, say, Die Hard. It's a case of Fine + Very Well Spent Money, undeniable spectacle contained in a decent story. Some of its charms have diminished over time, though I admit, not very much.
Silence of the Lambs has lost nothing to time. It could come out right now, and aside from being astonished at how young everyone looks, we would not only accept it as current, but everything it achieved with 1991 audiences it would still do for us today. It was the better, even more enjoyable, film in '91, and it remains so today.
Silence of the Lambs is a fine film, but as someone who came of age in the 90's there's just something about Edward Furlong on a dirt bike, Robert Patrick's T-1000 cop liquifying into a silver nightmare, the wave of a nuclear blast tearing through a children's playground..............these are images that are as synonymous with the decade as west coast gangster rap, the OJ trial and blurry late night porn channels on a cathode tube TV. It may not deserve to win the entire marathon but it certainly deserves to win this match-up.