Basic Instinct, Blu-ray (1992) – Unrated Director’s Cut

by | May 27, 2007 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Basic Instinct, Blu-ray (1992) – Unrated Director’s Cut

Starring Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
Studio: Lionsgate
Video: 2.35:1 enhanced for 16:9 widescreen, 1080p HD
Audio: DTS lossless 5.1, DD 5.1 EX
Extras: Documentary on making of: “Blonde Poison;” Audio commentary by Verhoeven and Dir. of Photography Jan De Bont; Audio commentary by feminist critic and author Camille Paglia; “Cleaning Up Basic Instinct” – A/B comparisons of original widescreen profanities with pan-and-scanned cleaned up TV versions; Storyboard comparisons; Theatrical trailer; Original screens tests of actresses
Length: 128 minutes
Rating: ****

There are several comments in the commentaries and featurette as to Basic Instinct’s sexual explicitness which wouldn’t be possible today. I thought the sky was the limit today.  Anyway, this is the film which caused such controversy in 1992, both for the famous uncrossed-legs interrogation scene and super-revealing love scenes between Douglas and Stone, but also for the loud protests by lesbian and gay organizations against alleged homophobia of the film. Don’t know what the subtitle means – Unrated Director’s Cut – since the theatrical film was also unrated. And some might say this disc is blu in more ways than format…

The blonde, Catherine, writes pulpy novels which appear to describe accurately savage killings which either have already occurred or soon will.  Investigating her – awfully thoroughly it turns out – is detective Curran, a faulty cop trying to go straight, but turned to the dark side by Catherine’s wiles and mind-twisting. The plot is outrageously complex and over the top, as are the murders and love scenes, but remember this is Paul Verhoeven, trying to get even for the debacle of his previous Showgirls.  He instills a needed classiness (but not enough) by using a strong Hitchcock element in his approach, even to having Sharon Stone look and dress like Hitchcock’s Kim Novak in Vertigo. The lighting tricks also follow Hitchcock’s innovations of achieving perfect film noir effects in spite of doing movies in Technicolor instead of black and white. (Although in hi-res the Catherine interrogation scene lighting looked more ridiculous than ever.)

Did I mention the ice pick? No? Well, let’s just say it’s an important element in the story. So is Catherine not wearing any underwear. By the way, Jerry Goldsmith’s main theme in his score under the images is superbly effective and seems to draw one into even the absurd parts of the story. Those of us males who don’t have a thing about blondes will probably find Curran’s brunette shrink played by Tripplehorn a great deal sexier than Catherine.  Douglas is great in his role as he becomes more and more obsessed with the case, even after being barred from it.  The San Francisco-area scenes are fun for expats, though as usual they take major liberties with the geography.  All in all, it’s an ingenious thriller, with a mostly satisfying element of sleaze. The Amazon list of Movies-With-Bad-Girls reports of Basic Instinct: “They don’t get much more ‘bad’ than this.”

The documentary is worth watching, and some of Camille Paglia’s commentary on the male-female thing are food for thought, but continuing them for the entire film may be more than most males can take. The super-resolution transfer is done with care and benefits the interesting cinematography (especially one scene which I won’t mention), and the DTS soundtrack immerses the viewer thoroughly. But having to view this disc in portions, I found the individual scene navigation to be extremely frustrating to access.

 – John Sunier

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