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Basic Instinct
Album Cover Art
1992 Varèse
2004 Prometheus
Album 2 Cover Art
2015 Quartet
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage

Performed by:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra
Labels Icon
Varèse Sarabande
(March 17th, 1992)

Prometheus Records
(May, 2004)

Quartet Records
(October, 2015)
Availability Icon
The 1992 Varèse Sarabande album was a regular U.S. release. The 2004 Prometheus album was not one of the label's limited club titles, but was still only available through soundtrack specialty outlets for $20 to $25. The 2015 Quartet album was limited to 2,000 copies and available for an initial price of $25 through those same outlets.
Nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on especially the longer albums featuring this score if you are ready to hear truly unique erotic thriller music that perfectly balances the inescapable sensuality and chilly dread of the film's shamelessly lurid plotline.

Avoid it... if even a clever exploration of the noir genre in Jerry Goldsmith's contemporary methodology cannot keep you from being disturbed by the score's legendarily turbulent, challenging, and musically graphic sex and orgasm sequences.
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WRITTEN 12/13/96, REVISED 4/12/16
Basic Instinct: (Jerry Goldsmith) The times never got better for director Paul Verhoeven after the early 1990's, his popular hits RoboCop, Total Recall, and Basic Instinct proving far more immensely profitable than his subsequent efforts. Although his graphic depictions of violence were already well known by 1992, Basic Instinct established the director as a man without reservation in his interest in graphic (and often equally violent) sex in the mainstream. The controversial Joe Eszterhas script was a target of claims of discrimination from the gay and lesbian community before it was even shot, forcing police to hold back protestors from the San Francisco filming locations during production. The story is a convoluted murder mystery revolving around a hot, super-wealthy, bisexual female writer who is suspected of killing her victims by stabbing them with an ice pick during the peak of sex, an act described in her novel. In this role is Sharon Stone, who, despite Total Recall, was a relatively unknown commodity at the time; her paltry salary of $500,000 on the otherwise high-budget project, along with the flashing of her vagina during the plot's famous interrogation scene, launched her to stardom. Michael Douglas plays the troubled detective attempting to solve the gruesome initial stabbing, his inability to control his indulgences leading to a torrid affair with not only his psychologist, but Stone's character as well. This love triangle is brutally explored in Basic Instinct, eventually revealing unexpected connections and leaving the audience hanging with a tormenting false resolution at the end. While the movie was not considered high art by critics (the stylistic connections to Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo are shameless), it defied the protests and became a sensation that hauled in $350 million, making it one of the most successful cinematic ventures of the entire decade. One of the few aspects of the film to receive universal praise was Jerry Goldsmith's score, a triumph of orgasmic suspense that led to Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for the veteran.

It was an admittedly arduous and difficult assignment for Goldsmith, not only because Verhoeven is a challenging director to work with, but due to the story's unusual blend of sensuality and chilly atmosphere. There is no love on display in a positive sense in Basic Instinct, making the sex aspect difficult to adhere to the noir-like suspense that otherwise dominates. An ice-cold allure is precisely what Basic Instinct required in its music, and Goldsmith admirably succeeded in defining that oddly balanced soundscape. He also managed to capture the musical essence of an orgasm as well, perhaps more orchestrally graphic than ever heard before. His ensemble is familiar to his collectors, building off of the noir ambience of the National Philharmonic Orchestra and utilizing his usual array of synthesizers, performed live with the orchestra, on top of it to accentuate the contemporary and chilly personality of the thriller. The dangerous seduction embodied by the score represents the best entry in its sub-genre since John Barry's Body Heat, terrifying in its intelligent use of lighter instrumental tones to foreshadow unspeakable perversions. Hearing mystifying strings, woodwinds, keyboarding, harp, and piano as representatives of sexual tension beckons you to come closer while simultaneously trying to warn you that an ice pick in your eye socket is just around the corner. The string section carries the burden of the work, whimsically weaving through every cue of the score in high, ghostly tones suitable for a romantic haunted house story, perhaps an appropriate influence of Bernard Herrmann in suggesting not only a foggy reality, but the city of San Francisco as well. Of equal ominous innocence is the variety of woodwind tones, some of them actually keyboarded samples (as clearly evident at the end of "Catherine & Roxy") to accentuate their eeriness. An aggressively hammered piano in the extremely low ranges adds a distinction to this score that serves to illuminate the danger and suspense of the eroticism. Reverberating sound effects bounce around in the soundscape as a perfect representation of the mind-numbing (and drunken) confusion felt by Douglas' character and, by relation, the audience.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.93 Stars
***** 1,380 5 Stars
**** 1,155 4 Stars
*** 616 3 Stars
** 258 2 Stars
* 159 1 Stars
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Basic Instinct
Carlos García - September 20, 2021, at 12:23 a.m.
1 comment  (17 views)
jeanne tripplethorn
bubbabgone - November 15, 2012, at 2:38 p.m.
1 comment  (1605 views)
Looking for An Unending Story (Alternate)   Expand >>
maximus - January 24, 2008, at 4:03 p.m.
2 comments  (3670 views)
Newest: January 28, 2008, at 2:32 p.m. by
Minor Sound Glitch
Nick - March 28, 2005, at 1:31 p.m.
1 comment  (2969 views)
I wonder if Goldsmith heard this music in his head during his own orgasms after 1992
Julio Gomez - August 31, 2004, at 7:12 p.m.
1 comment  (2952 views)
Did you realize that....   Expand >>
xasvi - June 8, 2004, at 2:55 p.m.
2 comments  (3787 views)
Newest: August 8, 2004, at 1:21 p.m. by
Jay Mason

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1992 Varèse Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 44:25
• 1. Main Title (2:15)
• 2. Crossed Legs (4:50)
• 3. Night Life (6:03)
• 4. Kitchen Help (3:59)
• 5. Pillow Talk (5:00)
• 6. Morning After (2:29)
• 7. The Games Are Over (5:36)
• 8. Catherine's Sorrow (2:41)
• 9. Roxy Loses (3:17)
• 10. An Unending Story (7:56)
2004 Prometheus Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 74:30
2015 Quartet Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 125:33

Notes Icon
The insert of the original 1992 album includes a note from the director. The 2004 and 2015 albums' inserts feature detailed information about the film and score.
Copyright © 1996-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Basic Instinct are Copyright © 1992, 2004, 2015, Varèse Sarabande, Prometheus Records, Quartet Records and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/13/96 and last updated 4/12/16.
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