Basic Instinct (1992)

Book Origins

Basic Instinct (1992) Jerry Goldsmith

First released March 20, 2020

Delays, delays, and more delays! This book was plagued with one setback after another. Basic Instinct was a score that was always on my radar. I was reinvigorated after having a conversation with someone about Goldsmith’s masterpiece but found itself front and center.

Shortly after releasing Batman Returns, I inquired with the studio about releasing it. They respond immediately. The next hurdle was tracking down the original score. In late August of 2019, I contacted Goldsmith’s longtime copyist to find out if a set of scores existed. While waiting for an answer, I was hospitalized for 2 months. During the end of my stay, I continued to contact the copying office, but they were too busy to locate the score. It wasn’t until December that it was confirmed they had possession of the score and could provide a scan. I spent the next month engraving the score.

I was finished with the entire book by early February and contacted the same graphic artist that created the Batman Returns cover. He was unavailable this time. It then took a couple of weeks to find another equally-qualified visual artist. During the back-and-forth reviews of the cover design, an idea for a comic panel on the back page of the book occurred to me. I contacted a good friend who is an excellent artist. That took a couple weeks, pushing the release date further back. Finally, all loose ends eventually tied up, and it was a matter of waiting for the printer to run the number of copies I requested.

About Basic Instinct

Among the erotic thrillers of the 1980s and 90s, Basic Instinct stands out as a bold entry. Upon its release,  Basic Instinct proved to be quite the provocative thriller on-screen and off, receiving public criticism for its script and direction. Joe Eszterhas’ story was controversial among gay groups, who charged that it was gratuitously defamatory toward lesbians and women in general. Director Paul Verhoeven was criticized for creating a modern, yet shallow and exploitative noir film. While this unapologetic film invoked polarizing responses, it was simultaneously lauded for Jan De Bont’s opulent camera work and an effectively insidious score by Jerry Goldsmith.

The composer admitted it was a grueling assignment. Verhoeven continuously rejected Goldsmith’s material until he happened upon a musical sequence in an underscore cue. This subsequently became the film’s celebrated main theme, and the basis on which this Golden Globe and Oscar-nominated score was built. The main theme is slinky and serpentine, gliding up and down while slithering over darkly foreboding and shifting harmonies. Goldsmith’s score weaves together a rich tapestry of complimentary themes that at times overlap one another, and at other times complete each other’s statements. The score, like a suspenseful roller coaster, keeps the audience on the edge of their seats; guessing all the way to the end!

Goldsmith captures the story’s unusual blend of sensuality and chilly atmosphere with a full symphony orchestra, augmented by synthesizers. Powerful brass and bold, percussive, shifting rhythms highlight a few striking sequences. As with many Goldsmith scores, the performance duties fell to the National Philharmonic Orchestra under the composer’s baton with stunning results.

173 pages, 9×12 inches. Paperbound, printed in U.S.A.