Jonathan Demme, Oscar-Winning Director of ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ Dies At 73




It was with a very heavy heart that I found out this morning the passing of filmmaking legend Jonathan Demme at the age of 73.

I loved Demme. He was one of the few truly great directors that focused on the female voice, for more than 4 decades to boot. “Married to the Mob”, “Something Wild”, “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Rachel Getting Married” are prime examples of that. All are great movies. 


Demme’s key period lasted about 13 years — Melvin and Howard (’80), Stop Making Sense ('84) Swing Shift (’84), Something Wild (’86), Swimming to Cambodia (’87), Married to the Mob (’88), The Silence of the Lambs (’91) and, more or less, finally Philadelphia (’93) although I find the latter hasn't aged well over the years. He also changed the way music could be shot with the Talking Heads concert "Stop Making Sense," which, for my money, is the greatest shot concert of all-time. 

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As far as latter-day Demme goes, along with the aforementioned Rachel Getting Married, The Manchurian Candidate remake was very good and highly underrated. 

"Something Wild" will always be my favorite Demme. There has never been anything like it, before or after its release. I'd probably rank it in my top 20 of the 1980s. It belongs in the same league as David Lynch's "Blue Velvet," a surreal foray into the wild blue. A film which dared to combine comedy and romance with the darkest cinematic surrealism imaginable. 
I was holding out hope with Demme, whose was concentrating mostly on non-fiction documentaries the last 15-20 years, to make a return, but I didn't know he was suffering from Esophegal cancer the past 3 years. His cinematic legacy will no doubt last.
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