FBI Training Facility at Quantico, Virginia: Promising FBI Academy student Clarice Starling is making her way through a rigorous course of rope pulling and log jumping. An instructor approaches her.
FBI instructor: Starling! Crawford wants to see you in his office.
Clarice: Thank you, sir.
She exits the course and heads into the main facility. She takes an elevator to his office where a FBI agent informs her Crawford should be back in a couple minutes and she can wait in his office.
Crawford's Office: As she waits, something grabs her attention. A corkboard filled with newpaper clippings and photos of mutilated victims. A clipping from The National Inquisitor reads, "Bill Skins Fifth." Special Agent Jack Crawford of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit enters his office.
Crawford is 53, strongly built. He looks tired, haunted. Between master and student, we sense a subtle, muted tug of sexuality. After exchanging greetings, he praises her progress, being in the top quarter of the class.
Crawford: I remember you from my seminar at UVA. You grilled me pretty hard, as I recall, on the bureau's civil rights record in the Hoover years. I gave you an A.
Clarice: A-minus, Sir.
He tells her a job's come up and he thought about her. He explains they are interviewing all of the serial killers now in custody, for a psychobehavioral profile to help them with unsolved cases. Most of them have been happy to talk to them, but the one they want most, refuses to cooperate and he wants her to go after him again today, in the asylum. Crawford tasks her with presenting a VICAP questionnaire to the notorious Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant forensic psychiatrist and incarcerated cannibalistic serial murderer.
Crawford: I don't expect Hannibal to talk to you, but I want to at least try. If he won't cooperate, I want just straight reporting - how he looks, how his cell looks, and what is he sketching.
He hands her a Dossier on Lecter, a copy of their questionnaire, and a special ID for her. As she gets up to leave, he warns her to be very careful with Hannibal Lecter.
Crawford: Dr. Chilton at the asylum will go over the physical procedures used with him. Do not deviate from them, for any reason. Believe me, you don't want Hannibal Lecter inside your head.
Crawford: Just do your job, but never forget what he is.
Clarice: And what is that?
Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Chilton: . . . . Oh, he's a monster. Pure psychopath. So rare to capture one alive. From a research point of view, Lecter is our most prized asset.
Dr. Frederick Chilton, a smarmy little peacock, behind a vast desk, smiles while playing with his beloved gold pen. Chilton boasts, that from a research point of view, Dr. Lecter is their most prized asset.
Chilton has rudely left her standing. He's conceived an instant, hopeless lust for Clarice and makes a gawdy attempt to flirt with her.
Chilton: You know, we get a lot of detectives here, but I must say I can't ever remember one as attractive.
He hits on her for a night out on the town. Clarice tries, unsuccessfully, to hide her distaste for him and explains that her instructions are to talk to Lecter and report back this afternoon.
Upper Floor Asylum Corridor: As they walk, Chilton explains how Lector is much too sophisticated for the standard tests. He adds a snide remark about Crawford using a pretty young woman, to turn him on. They make their way to a lower floor corridor, a darker, even grimmer area. Heavy grids over the lights. Distant slammings and faint, hoarse shouts. They walk briskly while Chilton lays out the rules.
Chilton: Do not touch the glass, do not approach the glass. You pass him nothing but soft paper - no pens or pencils. No staples or paperclips in his paper. Use the sliding food carrier, no exceptions. If he attempts to pass you anything, do not accept it. I am going to show you why we insist on such precautions. On the evening of July 8th, 1981, he complained of chest pains and was taken to the dispensary. His mouthpiece and restraints were removed for an EKG. When the nurse leaned over him, he did this to her.
He shows her a picture to reinforce the gravity of the rules.
Chilton: The doctors managed to reset her jaw more or less. Saved one of her eyes. His pulse never got above 85, even when he ate her tongue.
Chilton: I keep him in here.
Clarice: If Lecter thinks you're his enemy, maybe we'd have better luck if I went in by myself.
Chilton: You could have mentioned this in my office and saved me the time.
Clarice: Yes, but then I would have missed the pleasure of your company.
Chilton gives the okay and turns on his heel.
Barney, a big, impassive orderly awaits them in an anteroom. Barney smiles reassuringly. On its walls: restraints, mouthpieces, Mace, tranquilizer guns. Barney tells her it's the last cell. Stay to the middle. He put out a chair for her. Sensing her tension, he indicates a nearby security monitor, he'll be watching her and she will be fine. Clarice nods gratefully.
She looks down the long corridor, takes a deep breath, walks into it. He watches her go. Clarice's footsteps echo. High to her right, surveillance cameras.
On her left, cells. Some are padded, with narrow observation slits, others are normal, barred. Shadowy occupants pacing, muttering.
Suddenly a dark figure in the next-to-last cell hurtles towards her, his face mashing grotesquely against his bars as he hisses.
Miggs: I can smell your cunt.
Clarice flinches momentarily, but then walks on.
Dr. Lecter's Cell: Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a sophisticated, cultured man, is coming slowly into view, behind thick glass panels, surrounded by windowless stone walls. Sparse, bolted-down furniture, many softcover books and papers. On the walls, extraordinarily detailed, skillful drawings, mostly European cityscapes, in charcoal or crayon.
Clarice stops, at a polite distance from his cell wall, clears her throat.
LECTER: Good morning.
CLARICE: Dr. Lecter... My name is Clarice Starling. May I speak with you?
Lecter stares with a half smile, considers her. A face so long out of the sun, it seems almost leached - except for the glittering eyes, and the wet red mouth. His voice is soft, the gracious host.
LECTER: You're one of Jack Crawford's, aren't you.
CLARICE: I am, yes.
LECTER: May I see your credentials?
Clarice is surprised, but fishes her ID card from her bag, holds it up for his inspection. He smiles, soothingly.
LECTER: Closer, please... Clo-ser...
She complies each time, trying to hide her fear. Dr. Lecter's nostrils lift, as he gently, like an animal, tests the air. Then he smiles, glancing at her card.
LECTER: That expires in one week. You're not real FBI, are you?
CLARICE: I'm still in training at the Academy.
LECTER: Jack Crawford sent a trainee to me?
CLARICE: Yes, I'm a student. I'm here to learn from you. Maybe you can decide for yourself whether or not I'm qualified enough to do that.
LECTER: Mmmmm... That is rather slippery of you, Agent Starling. . . Sit. Please.
She sits in the folding metal desk-chair. He waits politely till she's settled.
LECTER: Now then, tell me. What did Miggs say to you? "Multiple Miggs," in the next cell. He hissed at you. What did he say?
CLARICE: He said - "I can smell your cunt."