Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme dies

"And, arguably, everybody's story is worth telling". He created a body of work - including fiction films and documentaries, dramas and comedies, original scripts and remakes - that resists easy characterisation.

Filmmaker Ron Howard and actress Thandie Newton are leading the tributes to director Jonathan Demme following his death on Wednesday (26Apr17).

In February, in what might be his final work as a director Demme, also helmed the second episode of Fox 21/Netflix's upcoming series Seven Seconds. He ended up working for Roger Corman, the famous director of schlocky B movies who nurtured a generation of younger Hollywood filmmakers.

The director of Talking Heads" legendary concert film "Stop Making Sense" and "Silence Of The Lambs' has died aged 73.

Even the casting of the film could have been very different.

Two years later, Demme rebounded with the New Wave-flavored indie comedy "Something Wild". Is "Philadelphia" a classic melodrama or bold, timely polemic?

Before he signed on for the film, no studio wanted to touch Silence of the Lambs. The correct answer to all these questions, of course, is "Yes".

Anthony Hopkins in Silence Of The Lambs
Image Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in 1991's Silence Of The Lambs

The director's success with Silence of the Lambs gave Demme the commercial springboard to direct Philadelphia in 1993, a ground-breaking Hollywood blockbuster that won Tom Hanks his first Academy Award for playing a gay lawyer fired for contracting HIV and fighting for justice. The Talking Heads landmark Stop Making Sense was just one of the many credits he racked up during this time period.

After Hurricane Katrina, he traveled to New Orleans to film people determined to get back to their homes, despite uncooperative authorities. The film worked because it was not about Hughes but about Dumont, played by Paul Le Mat (one of Demme's favorite actors).

Demme's documentary chronicles the promotional rounds the 39th president, Jimmy Carter, underwent for his 2006 tome Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, in which he laid much of the blame for Middle Eastern discord at the feet of Israel. In his early twenties, Demme wrote rock music reviews for the Boston newspaper Fusion, and decades later, in a 2012 Rolling Stones interview, said, "Shooting live music is the most purely cinematic thing you can do". And, it bears noting, most of the latter were written by other people.

Byrne said he was originally drawn to Demme for the way he'd "slip a reggae artist's song or a Haitian recording into a narrative film in ways that were often joyous and unexpected".

Even though Demme's challenging adaptation of Toni Morrison's even more hard novel was not a box office success, it was a film which was widely appreciated by critics.

Demme may be best remembered for that pair of 1990s films that were, at the time, his career's biggest anomalies. "Though I had directed music videos before, this mentoring of Jonathan's emboldened me to try making a feature film". "In anything I do, that's there". We shook hands and hugged, but I was getting much more. And audiences were far richer for it.

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