How is Suspense Achieved in 'The Silence of the Lambs'

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The Silence of the Lambs took the Academy Awards by storm in 1992, winning all five major categories, direction, screenplay, acting and Best Motion Picture; beating the odds in more ways than one.Dark psychological thrillers rarely win Best Picture (the last occasion was back in 1940, Hitchcock's'Rebecca'). The film had been released early in 1991, a date thought to be beyond the traditionally short memories of most Academy members.Why this happened is not hard to explain on a more detailed inspection.
The film embodies the ultimate in its genre.The dark imagery and intense mind play once seen makes it very hard to forget. In fact it wasn't just Academy voters that were affected by the film, it became a major worldwide success, grossing over $270 million, spawned an even more financially successful sequel, and even inspired a prequel, making a major star of Anthony Hopkins and turned his alter ego'Hannibal Lecter' into a cultural icon.
The key element of the film is its ability to keep us in suspense throughout its two hours running time.The film effectively grabs and holds our attention within thefirst fifteen minutes during three key sequences in which all four main protagonists are introduced.
Thefirst key scene introduces us to FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) As the credits role, Howard Shore's powerfully portentous music plays as a small, pretty figure dressed in a grey jogging suit tackles an FBI training academy obstacle course.Clarice looks vulnerable, yet determined, as she climbs up a rope. This establishes a perfect metaphor for the personal journey and ordeal she will soon be embarking upon. As Clarice jogs through the woods she passes a tree that has five signs nailed upon it:" Hurt ","Agony", "Pain", "Love-it", and the last faded sign, faded in the elements "Or-die". The last sign is indistinct a me…