Synopses & Reviews
This latest book in the Controversies series is the first in-depth study of Basic Instinct
(1992). Basic Instinct was one of the earliest mainstream 'erotic thrillers' - a film which significantly shifted the boundaries for graphic representations of sex in the Hollywood mainstream. Basic Instinct remains a significant milestone in terms of censorship and wider controversies. In his fascinating study of the film, Stevie Simkin explains how the Basic Instinct is also remarkable for stirring up a 'grass roots' form of censorship that has become more widespread in the twenty years that have followed its release. The unrest that Basic Instinct
sparked in the gay and lesbian communities in the US, as well as amongst feminists, was unprecedented at the time. After the screenplay was leaked to the public, pressure groups - incensed by what they characterised as the script's homophobia - first lobbied the production company, director and writer for script changes, and then staged protests during the making of the film, continuing with demonstrations outside movie theatres when it opened.
This study considers the social and cultural context in which Basic Instinct was made. It includes a detailed examination of all stages of the production, certification, distribution and reception of the film, the nature of the objections and protests by GLAAD and other pressure groups, and critical responses to the film. It also offers a number of readings of the film, chiefly in terms of its representation of a 'transgressive' female protagonist, and its representation of bisexuality and a close analysis of key scenes, with comparison of the cuts made to different versions released in the UK and the US, for theatrical release and for home video, and for TV broadcast. It concludes by considering the longer term impact of Basic Instinct, focusing on representations of lesbianism/bisexuality, sex and violence, and the erotic thriller genre's place in relation to boundaries of censorship and classification.
About the Author
DR. STEVIE SIMKIN is a 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.
Table of 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
'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