Paul Verhoeven's 1992 thriller Basic Instinct - starring Michael Douglas as a police detective and Sharon Stone as the femme fatale Catherine Tramell - was one of the first mainstream 'erotic thrillers', a film which shifted...
Paul Verhoeven's 1992 thriller Basic Instinct - starring Michael Douglas as a police detective and Sharon Stone as the femme fatale Catherine Tramell - was one of the first mainstream 'erotic thrillers', a film which shifted the boundaries for graphic representations of sex in Hollywood cinema. It remains a significant milestone in film censorship and controversy. In his fascinating study, the first in-depth account of the film, Stevie Simkin explores the unrest and protest that Basic Instinct sparked in the gay, lesbian and feminist communities in the US, incensed by what they saw as the script's homophobia and misogyny.
Simkin considers the social and cultural context in which Basic Instinct was made, examining the film's troubled production history, the battles with censors, and its reception. He offers a number of readings of the movie, looking at its representation of bisexuality and the depiction of a 'transgressive' female protagonist. He also focuses on key sequences, including the infamous interrogation scene, and details the cuts demanded by the censors, resulting in different UK and US versions. In conclusion, Simkin considers the legacy of Basic Instinct, and its enduring effect on media representations of the violent woman.
STEVIE SIMKIN is Reader in Drama and Film at the University of Winchester, UK. His publications include work on cult television, popular music, and Renaissance drama. He is the author of, amongst other works, A Preface to Marlowe (1999), Revenge Tragedy: A New Casebook (2001), Early Modern Tragedy and the Cinema of Violence (2005), and, also in the Controversies series, a book on the Peckinpah film, Straw Dogs.
First single study of Basic Instinct, a key cult film of the 1980s
Richly illustrated with stills from the film and other images
PART I: MAKING BASIC INSTINCT
From Love Hurts to Basic Instinct: Joe Eszterhas
Casting Catherine 'What Exactly Did You Have in Mind?'
Shooting the Sex Scenes
'We Live Happily Ever After?'
PART II: PROTESTING BASIC INSTINCT
Production and Protests: the Context
Protesting Basic Instinct
'Political Correctness' and Free Speech Basic Instinct and Homophobia Disruption on Location
PART III: CENSORING BASIC INSTINCT
Certificates and Ratings
Basic Instinct at the MPAA
Close Analysis: The Scenes Cut at CARA's Request
Basic Instinct at the BBFC
PART IV: REVIEWING BASIC INSTINCT
Opening and Reception
US Press Reaction
Basic Instinct and the UK Press
PART V: READING BASIC INSTINCT
Back to the Future
Basic Instinct and the Violent Woman
Basic Instinct as Postmodern Neo-Noir
Catherine and the Femme Fatale Archetype: the Threat to Patriarchy
The Interrogation Scene
Beth: the Domesticated Female
Basic Instinct's Viewing Pleasures
'Just an Old City Cowboy'
PART VI: THE LEGACY OF BASIC INSTINCT
Box Office Risk Addiction
The Enduring Myth of the Lethal Woman.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
- Richard Attenborough David Robinson
- Antony and Cleopatra Michael Scott
- Film As Product in Contemporary Hollywood
- Our Friends in the North Michael Eaton
- The Passion of Pier Paolo Pasolini
- BFI Film Handbook: 2005 Eddie Dyja
- Stars Paul McDonald
- Hitchcock: Suspense, Humour and Tone Susan Smith
- The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity Tom Gunning
- Understanding Film Theory Ruth Doughty, Christine Etherington-Wright
- Seeing Through the Eighties: Television and Reaganism
- Encore Hollywood: Remaking French Cinema Lucy Mazdon