The moths from Silence of the Lambs have become famous symbols of the film, and here is the explanation behind Buffalo Bill’s chosen insect.

The death-head hawk moth is a famous symbol of The silence of the lambsBut there is more to Buffalo Bill’s favorite bug than mere coincidence. This dark 1991 psychological thriller followed FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) as she tracked down Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), a murderer who hunted and skinned women. Since Bill’s murder spree has even had FBI agents and profilers scratching their heads, Clarice enlists the help of cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) to help her understand Bill’s psyche so she can catch him. . Despite Hannibal’s somewhat overwhelming presence throughout the film, the character himself only appears on screen for about sixteen minutes.

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One of Buffalo Bill’s MO in The silence of the lambs he is leaving a peculiar staple behind the throat of his victims; a death’s head hawk moth. This is first discovered during a puzzling autopsy scene, and the symbolism behind the moth becomes a key part of understanding Bill’s motivations. As Lecter himself later communicates to Clarice, the meaning of the moth itself is change. “Caterpillar in chrysalis or pupa, and from there in beauty. “Lecter is referring to the metamorphosis process, and this concept also runs throughout Clarice’s journey.

Related: Clarice’s Silence of the Lambs Flashbacks Create Weird Plot Hole

Of course, related to this is Bill’s problematic description of his apparent gender dysphoria and how he handles it. In The silence of the lambs, you want to transition and assume a gender identity that matches your inner and authentic self. Unfortunately, while the metamorphosis symbolism makes logical sense, reducing a three-dimensional character to a damaging stereotype is not only unfair, it has also proven painful to the trans community. In an age when there was not much representation for LGBTQ + people, painting a man who wishes to transition as a brutal murderer who envies women and collects their furs was very damaging. The film’s mismanagement of trans material and Buffalo Bill’s complicated legacy are addressed in the recently released CBS sequel series. Clarice

The symbolism of the moth extends to Clarice’s story as well, with The silence of the lambs opening with her still in training at the FBI academy before she soon undergoes her own transformation and is baptized into a world of darkness. While Clarice begins the narrative as an inexperienced agent who needs help understanding the psychology of the killers, the film ends with her and Lecter as the two people who understand Bill best. Any semblance of innocence has eroded and, under Lecter’s tutelage, he has grown both personally and professionally.

There’s also the obvious symbolism behind the death-head hawk moth itself, beyond metamorphosis. The moth derives its premonitory name from the fact that it has a design that resembles a human skull on the upper part of the body. Even after he’s done with his victims, Bill leaves a symbol of death within them; most likely they will stay in their throats because these moths can screech, thus mocking the cries of fear of unfortunate souls. Like Buffalo Bill and The silence of the lambs As a whole, the moth theme is overlaid in a disturbing subtext.

Next: Clarice: How The CBS Show Fits Into The Silence Of The Lambs Movie Timeline

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