‘Silence of the Lambs’ 30th anniversary event introduces students to local film history

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Alyssa Carnevali | Staff Photographer

Students wait to watch a 30th anniversary screening of “The Silence of the Lambs” at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum hosted by Pitt’s Office of New Student Programs on Wednesday night.

By Katelyn Kruszewski, For The Pitt News

Students hovered nervously on Wednesday in small groups on the third floor of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum around Hannibal Lecter’s cage from “The Silence of the Lambs.”

In honor of the film’s 30th anniversary, Pitt’s Office of New Student Programs hosted a Wednesday screening of the iconic thriller movie at Soldiers & Sailors. Though the event is a yearly tradition for first-years, this year’s version allowed students to view a replica of Hannibal Lecter’s cage for 30 minutes after watching the film, created by Hundred Acre Manor Haunted Attraction.

Katie Gallo, a first-year business major, is a longtime fan of the film. She said she was a fan of psychological thrillers, particularly this film’s twist ending.

“I watched it once when I was eight and I loved seeing it then,” Gallo said. “I hope somebody screams, that’d be interesting. No, I hope they’ll have fun.”

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Gallo expressed her excitement at seeing the movie in the area in which it had been originally shot. She attended the event after seeing it advertised on a Pitt-run social media account and couldn’t pass up an opportunity to explore the space.

“It’s very cool,” Gallo said. “I think it’s nice that Pitt has stuff like that here you can learn about the history of the film which makes it more interesting.”

Pitt’s Office of New Student Programs hosted a 30th anniversary screening of “The Silence of the Lambs” on Wednesday night at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. (Alyssa Carnevali | Staff Photographer)

Chance Wideman, director of new student programs, said the inspiration behind the event was in part due to the film’s connection to the Pittsburgh area.

“We always thought it was a pretty cool idea to let students back into the building where the movie was shot,” Wideman said. “They’re going to re-create the cage, which is one of the famous scenes from the movie.”

The office organizes new student programs to encourage a sense of community among students, which he hoped that students would enjoy along with the Halloween spirit. 

“It’s pretty similar to years in the past, we’re adhering to all of the COVID guidelines. The only difference is that this year there’s not going to be any food or drink,” Wideman said. “We’re really hoping that students are just exposed to a really classic film — it’s something that has Pittsburgh ties. And obviously, it’s October and we’re hoping to give them a frightening experience to some end.”

One of the film’s stars, the infamous Hannibal Lecter, is known for his chilling quips and mannerisms. First-Year Mentor Luke Joynt, who was ushering the event, highlighted the fictional character’s intrigue.

“The performance of Hannibal Lecter is one that is admired by many as one of the most chilling performances in cinema history,” Joynt said. “It’s that kind of spooky time of the year.”

After taking an elevator to the third floor, students were taken to the exact room in which the scene was filmed. A movie poster of actors Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins detailed a short history of the film.

The black iron-like cage sat in the center of the room, containing replicas of Lecter’s bed, table, desk and white curtains. A closer look at the table revealed intricate drawings identical to those seen in the film.

Pitt’s Office of New Student Programs hosted a 30th anniversary screening of “The Silence of the Lambs” on Wednesday night at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum. (Alyssa Carnevali | Staff Photographer)

Jamy Brooks, a first-year exercise science major, watched the film after hearing about it through a group of friends. Brooks took multiple photos of the replica cage, describing her and her mother’s mutual love for the classic thriller.

“You get to come see the room, which is just a cool place to be in, I think it’s literally so cool,” Brooks said. “I wish I could go in. It just makes me feel like ‘wow, I’m actually in the same room.’”

Wideman said the event is traditionally well-liked among first-year students, as the tradition continues year after year. Wideman said he hopes that first-year students enjoy the film while also appreciating its historical ties to Soldiers & Sailors.

“We’re always looking to do events that tie to the Pittsburgh community,” Wideman said. “They can learn something about the community that surrounds them.”

Joynt expressed his hope that first-years would enjoy the screening and encouraged them to take the opportunity to explore campus and continue to discover more about Pitt’s history.

“Pitt has a lot of interesting tidbits about itself such as this movie,” Joynt said. “There’s a lot of aspects of this campus that you can always learn from.”