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Sight and Sound (2002) - Dizzying blondes




Verhoeven explains how the camera and characters of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo influenced his own film Basic Instinct. He relates that during the filming in San Francisco, he tried to make his movie in a different way while acknowledging that he had studied Vertigo.


Paul Verhoeven explains how the camera and characters of Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' haunt his own 'Basic Instinct'

My best friend saw Vertigo before I did, and pointed it out to me. He said, "I saw this film that people think is a thriller, but it's absolutely art. You must see it." I was 18 or 19, and I went to see it in a cinema called Passage, which doesn't exist anymore, in the Hague, where I lived then. It was a big film theatre, with very high ceilings and enormous balconies. I saw the film and realised my friend was right.

At that time I had seen a lot of Hitchcock movies without thinking too much about Hitchcock himself, but when I saw this movie I really studied it. For weeks I went to the cinema every two or three days to see it again. The movie meant so much to me that I began to study all of Hitchcock's work. I still do. I often pull out his movies on DVD and laserdisc and look at them again, to see how certain elements work -the editing, the camera moves, the psychology of the camera versus the characters. I've copied a lot of that stuff in my movies.

I didn't look at Vertigo when I was making Basic Instinct because I knew it by heart. Filming in San Francisco, I tried to make my movie in a different way while acknowledging that I had studied Vertigo. I changed the bridges -1 didn't use the Golden Gate Bridge, I used the next one - and I used different streets. But there are a lot of similarities and, of course, there's a reference to Rear Window, with the women who are seen dancing outside the window of Jeanne Tripplehorn's apartment. I used it for identification, ...

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