A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1991 – The Silence of the Lambs

I flip-flopped for a long, long time on this one. This was one of the final two years I selected for this list. It was that difficult for me.

Ultimately I went with what could probably be considered the “obvious” choice. But sometimes the obvious choice is the best choice. There’s a reason it’s the obvious choice.

It won all the awards, made all the money (fifth highest grosser of the year), is one of the most iconic movies ever made, and produced one of the greatest villains in all of cinema. It’s the choice.

I’m going to go over all the other choices for this year, but ultimately we’re going to come back to how perfect a choice this is and how nothing can really top this as the film for 1991.

Okay, so, other choices for 1991? (I’m going to focus on this, because I did have such a tough time choosing.)

Terminator 2. Yes. Highest grossing movie. But not the choice. Maybe it’s because I was 2 years old for the majority of this year and didn’t quite “live” it, the way I lived, say… 1999, but I don’t feel like this film was quite the one that took the culture by storm as much as Silence of the Lambs. Or another choice coming up.

Beauty and the Beast. Disney is always a contender, especially when they’re on. But if I’m gonna do the Disney Renaissance, which one do you pick? Don’t feel like that works was well as some of the other 1991 choices out there.

JFK. Definitely a major contender, and ended up as one of the three choices I came down to. A top earner for the year, definitely caught the culture at the right time and exploded. Everyone was talking about this movie when it came out. Plus it’s an amazing film, and Oliver Stone knows how to really get people talking. But I don’t know. It’s not exactly a topical issue in 1991. And I think the idea that JFK is just a great movie and Silence of the Lambs is… everything that’s movie’s become… and I think that’s the ultimate distinction I made there. You don’t go around quoting JFK. (Well, I do, but I’m a crazy person.) You quote Silence of the Lambs. That was the deciding factor there.

Boyz N the Hood. This was another one that was a major contender, and might have even become the choice for a minute. But then I felt it covered similar ground to Do the Right Thing and decided to leave it off in favor of that movie. Though Boyz N the Hood is more about the rap culture than black culture, and is more about where culture was at the time, and really represented a lot of where black culture was, especially in Southern California. So that was definitely a major choice there, and the real reason it didn’t end up as the one was simply because I didn’t want to repeat myself. Plus Silence of the Lambs also works really well.

And finally, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. For obvious reasons.

So, all things considered, I went with Silence of the Lambs.

And all of that aside, if I told you I chose Silence of the Lambs as the most representative film of 1991, I really wouldn’t have to explain the choice.

And that, my friends, is how my thought process works.

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