“Basic Instinct” (1992) is a landmark neo-noir erotic thriller jam-packed with rampant swearing, smoking, alcohol and drug use, bisexuality, lesbianism, voyeurism, fetishism, gory death scenes, full frontal nudity, rough sex, S and M sex; all kinds of sex actually, and lots and lots of it. It is all meticulously storyboarded, filmed in glorious Panavision, composed in lingering master shots, and played out by an A-list cast of major stars.
In other words, this is not the kind of project that could ever be made by a major studio today.
Jan de Bont’s gorgeous cinematography, Joe Eszterhas’s crackling, profane-laced script, and the powerhouse performances of Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas all contribute enormously to the film’s success; as does the musical score of legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith.
In the behind the scenes DVD extras on both “Total Recall” and “Basic Instinct”, Goldsmith talks about how director Paul Verhoeven pushes him. This tough-minded coaching style paid off as these two landmark scores are among Goldsmith’s absolute best.
Basic Instinct’s score is structured around a swirling, spooky, hypnotic main theme introduced in track one, “Main Theme”. It is a haunting, fluid musical texture that immediately draws the listener in to experience a symphony of dark wonders. The theme is layered in and out of the score at multiple points and on various cues at different tempos of urgency, reminding us of the forbidden femme fatale character who is always in control at every turn.
This flexible main theme gets several strong statements throughout the CD as Goldsmith continuously follows the lead of his eccentric director and pushes the material to the next musical level. Highlights include track seven “Crossed Legs”, the propulsive track nine “Night Life”, and the sensual track 16 “Pillow Talk”.
Track two, “The First Victim”, is the first of several explosive suspense cues including track eight, “Beth & Nick”, the knockout action music from the movie’s notorious “What was that? That was not making love” primal, rough sex scene.
The only way to experience the music of “Basic Instinct”, apart from the film, is on the Prometheus CD. It is a complete, remastered presentation of Goldsmith’s intricate masterwork. Fifteen of the 26 tracks on the CD are previously unreleased cues including “First Victim”, “Catherine & Roxy”, and “Beth & Nick”.
The music of “Basic Instinct” is brilliantly complex, intricately constructed, and even avant-garde at times, but always accessible and light on its feet. It is an addictive listen and a ground breaking work on so many levels. After all, never before or since has any composer taken on the challenge of carrying a ten minute sex scene shot in long take masters, a brilliant cue which includes the first time an orgasm was ever “scored” on film.
Or to paraphrase one of the many iconic lines spoken in the film; I don’t know about you Roxy, but I’d say “Basic Instinct” is the erotic noir soundtrack of the century.