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.
STEVIE SIMKIN is Reader in Drama and Film at the University of Winchester, UK. 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 Peckinpah's Straw Dogs.
Contents 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 Summit Meeting '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 Media Effects? PART IV: REVIEWING BASIC INSTINCT Opening and Reception US Press Reaction Basic Instinct and the UK Press Conclusion 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