Michael Douglas says Basic Instinct seemed so scandalous in 1992 at Cannes

May 18, 2023 09:09 PM IST

Michael Douglas was presented with an honorary Palme d'Or for career achievement at the opening ceremony on May 16.

Paul Verhoeven’s 1992 Basic Instinct with Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone seemed so scandalous then. Today, it would hardly raise an eyebrow, yes even the highly provocative scene in which she keeps crossing her legs. The movie premiered at Cannes, and one remembers the stampede it caused when it was screened a couple of years later at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which was held in Calcutta (now Kolkata). IFFI used to travel from city to city then. (Also read: Cannes Film Festival opens with Johnny Depp's comeback film, Jeanne du Barry)

Michael Douglas said watching Basic Instinct in Cannes on the big screen was overwhelming.
Michael Douglas said watching Basic Instinct in Cannes on the big screen was overwhelming.

During a conversation on May 17 at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival, Douglas – who received an honorary Palme d'Or for career achievement at the opening ceremony on May 16 – said it was “unique, even for France."

“Seeing a lot of those sex scenes on the Grand Palais’ huge screen, it was a little overwhelming for a lot of people. We had a very quiet dinner afterwards, everyone was sort of digesting it,” he remembered (the cast included Sharon Stone and Jeanne Tripplehorn).

Basic Instinct follows a tired-of-life detective (Douglas) probing a highly successful crime writer (Stone) suspected to be murdering people with an ice pick.

Apart from Basic Instinct, Douglas has brought several movies to Cannes that included an impressive list: The China Syndrome co-starring Jane Fonda; Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down; and his award-winning Liberace project Behind the Candelabra.

Douglas, son of the legendary Kirk Douglas, has won the Academy Award twice: the first as a producer for Best Picture (Jack Nicholson’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1976) and the second as the best actor in Wall Street. The film is often seen as Douglas's most definitive work.

Earlier in the day, Johnny Depp, who arrived at the press conference following the screening of the opening film, Jeanne du Barry, said with a swagger that he did not care about Hollywood. But he did admit that he felt somewhat slighted when he was asked to “resign from a movie you’re in [Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore] because of something that is merely a bunch of vowels and consonants floating in the air.

“Do I feel boycotted now? Not at all, but I don’t feel boycotted by Hollywood because I don’t think about Hollywood. I don’t have much further need for Hollywood myself.

“It’s a very strange, funny time,” he added, “where everybody would love to be themselves but they can’t because they must fall in line with the person in front of them, You want to live that kind of life, I wish you the best, I’ll be on the other side somewhere.”

The opening work in French is seen as some sort of comeback work for Depp following his two high-profile court cases in 2022 (one he lost, one he won) and director Maïwenn recently admitting to attacking a French journalist in Paris earlier in the year.

Asked why she chose Depp to play the French King Louis XV, she said, “I wanted an actor who was sexy because I knew I had to kiss him (in the movie)." Frank to the core!

Jeanne du Barry was financed by the Red Sea Film Fund. The world is getting truly global. Imagine a French work being financed by Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, online ticketing woes continue to trouble the Festival. On May 17, a large number of ticket holders were turned away from Pedro Almodovar’s short film, Strange Way of Life.

Long queues formed outside the theatre for the 31-minute short, which was followed by a conversation session with Almodovar. The queue stretched for miles. And just before the movie began, many with confirmed tickets were asked to go away.

Is a repeat screening of the Almodovar work on the cards?

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