Basic Instinct Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

The ending of “Basic Instinct”: what will the heroine Sharon Stone do with the knife. plot summary, meaning, explanation of the ending of the film with Sharon Stone, who is the killer?

Country: USA, France

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Detective

Year of production: 1992

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Actors: Michael Douglas, Sharon Stone, George Dzundza

tagline: “Flesh seduces. Passion kills»

Awards and nominations: In 1993, the film received 2 Oscar nominations.

One of Paul Verhoeven’s most famous films made a lot of noise at one time, and after a while received a cult status. The plot and meaning of the film “Basic Instinct” can not be called original, but still it is an amazing picture. Until now, it awakens the imagination and makes you think.

Plot of the film

Brief description of the content of the film “Basic Instinct” with Sharon Stone. USA, 90s. Detective Nick Curran is full of problems: after accidentally shooting two tourists, he becomes depressed and begins to abuse alcohol and tobacco. At work, they believe that the once good policeman has “burned out” and are thinking about sending him to rest. However, Curran himself does not want to retire. To cope with depression and addictions, he attends the sessions of a police psychotherapist, Dr. Ber Garner, whom they once met.

Stone and DouglasSharon Stone played the role of Catherine Trammel, Michael Douglas starred as Nick Curran. Frame from the film.

At the same time, he, along with his partner Gus, is taken to investigate a terrible murder: popular rock singer Johnny Boz was stabbed to death with an ice pick. The preliminary investigation established that the crime occurred during intimacy. Johnny’s girlfriend Katherine Tramell (Sharon Stone) comes to the attention of the detectives. A written beauty, Katherine is bisexual and a fairly well-known writer of detective stories. Not so long ago, she wrote a novel that became a bestseller. The book described a similar murder. The police assume that either someone sets her up, or she is the killer. A decision is made to interrogate the girl, but she starts a game with the police and begins to actively troll them.

Alibi have Catherine iron. In addition, she successfully passes the lie detector test. Curran, interested in the biography of the suspect, finds out that she revolves in a circle of rather dubious personalities. Many of her friends and associates had or have problems with the law. And one of Catherine’s close friends, Roxy, seems to be a psychopath – the girl has a double murder on her account, and her two younger brothers were the victims. She committed murder when she was a teenager…

Having the opportunity to personally meet with Katherine, Nick, the most experienced policeman, suddenly realizes that in the interrogation it is he who plays the role of the interviewee. Katherine almost openly taunts him and lets him know she knows about the tourist incident.

Nick realizes that the suspect has somehow gained access to his psychological map and becomes furious. Going to Beth Garner, he learns that she was forced to give his card to Chief Nilsson, who was about to fire the protagonist. Soon Nilson dies and Curran becomes the main suspect in his case. He is removed from the Johnny Boz case, but Nick is not going to give up. In addition, he is irresistibly attracted to Katherine …

They start a relationship. Jealous of Katherine for Nick, her friend Roxy tries to kill him, but dies herself. After mourning her friend, Katherine tells the detective about a certain Lisa Hoberman, with whom she had quite strong feelings in her youth. Later, Katherine outgrew youthful love, but Lisa became literally obsessed with her and communication had to be interrupted. Suspecting the murder of Boz Hoberman, Nick begins the search. Suddenly, he is surprised to learn that Lisa Hoberman is Beth Garner.

He causes Beth to have a serious conversation, and she admits that she was infatuated with Katherine as a student. However, she claims, the relationship was interrupted precisely on her, Beth, initiative – she was strained by Katherine’s ardent love for her.

This conversation makes Nick even more suspicious. Continuing the investigation, he finds out that Beth was once married, but her husband was shot many years ago, and the killer was never found.

Returning to Katherine, Curran discovers several pages from her new novel. He reads them and an involuntary chill runs down his spine: they talk about a detective who found the dead body of his partner in the elevator. Soon after, Katherine breaks up with him.

Ending explanation

The explanation for the ending looks like this. Soon, along with Gus, Nick travels to meet one of Katherine’s old acquaintances to learn about the true nature of their relationship. He himself can not meet with a woman and sends Gus. When the partner is hiding in the building, the detective suddenly has a hunch and rushes after him. He does not have time to help his partner: someone kills Gus with an ice pick. Rushing to find the perpetrator, he discovers Beth. Believing she is the killer, he shoots her.

A little later, in Dr. Garner’s apartment, the police find direct evidence confirming that she was obsessed with Katherine and circumstantial evidence of her involvement in the deaths of several people, including Boz.

Confused and dejected, Nick returns home, where he is greeted by Katherine. After sex, they are in bed discussing their future. And under the bed is an ice pick. Knowing exactly this, Katherine, as if by chance, lowers her hand …

The meaning of the ending of the film “Basic Instinct” is not completely clear: the killer has not been identified, and the further fate of Detective Carran raises questions.

George DzundzaGeorge Dzundza as Gus Moran. Frame from the film.

Who is the killer?

Near the end, Paul Verhoeven gives a vague hint that Katherine is not the killer. The most obvious version is the involvement in the terrible crimes of Dr. Beth Garner. However, this is doubtful – if only because the evidence discovered by the police literally screams about her guilt.

Probably, the doctor was simply set up, planting almost all the evidence that appeared in unsolved cases on her. Nick repeatedly visited her at home – Beth’s apartment turned into a caricature lair of a crazy maniac only after her death. In addition, her hands and clothes after the death of Gus were absolutely clean: if she were a killer, she simply would not have had time to clean herself up so quickly before Nick arrived.

The “offscreen” interpretation of Katherine’s guilt seems interesting: this is hinted at by an ice pick, which is under the bed at the end of the film. The very heroine Sharon Stone in the course of the film literally radiates danger (which is what attracts Nick). However, she has an alibi…

Usually a paradox works in detective stories: the killer is the one with an iron-clad alibi, and a meticulous detective will definitely prove it. But Nick did not become that same meticulous detective – he is fascinated by Katherine and blinded by her. The picture gives a strong hint that even if she is the killer, he does not particularly care – he is attracted by the possibility of playing with death.

In their analysis, some viewers believe that the key to “Basic Instinct” is that the real killer remained behind the scenes. The idea that Katherine could be the customer of all the murders, and someone who remained unknown, the executor, seems quite interesting.

Jeanne TripplehornJeanne Tripplehorn played the role of Beth Garner. Frame from the film.

The meaning of the film

Death in art has almost always been depicted unequivocally – as a terrible skeleton with a scythe. Is that the Scandinavian mistress of the dead Hel is an example of an amazing duality: one half of her face is monstrously ugly, and the other is cold, but charmingly beautiful.

Sigmund Freud once discovered the libido and described in general terms the laws of its functioning. Toward the end of his earthly journey, he unexpectedly discovered another psychic instance – mortido. The libido strives for activity and life, while the mortido is a destructive instinct. The meaning of the problem lies in the fact that, despite the apparent obviousness, it is not clear which of these two instincts is the main one …

The picture of Paul Verhoeven would never have fallen in love with the audience if it only told about detective Nick Curran, a man who was immensely tired of marriage and carried away by a “fatal” woman.

The main “peppercorn” of “Basic Instinct” is different. At some point, the narrative ceases to be linear and the film skims over the surface of meaning and truth. At the same time, the viewer is offered a sweet cherry on the cake – the image of Katherine.

Mysterious, unusual, she is the embodiment of temptation. Nick, a rational man to the marrow of his bones, like a moth to a flame, flies at her call. Balancing on the verge of reality and fiction, as if serving as an objectification of a secret fantasy, she gradually lures him into the cold trap of reality. Probably, it is in their relationship that one can try to find the hidden meaning of the film.

It lies in the fact that Detective Curran’s masculinity (and then the entire narrative discourse of “Basic Instinct”) is defeated by the elemental charm of feminine sex appeal. The ultimate apogee of all this is death…

However, if “Basic Instinct” had not been shot by Verhoeven, it would have become a typical R-category film. However, talking about libido and mortido, the eminent European director cannot help smiling. The degree of seriousness of his tape reduces the final scene.

It seems that the killer is found and his motives are revealed. However, until the very end credits, the viewer has doubts. Verhoeven consciously goes for this provocation: the fact that after watching “Basic Instinct” the effect of incompleteness remains is completely normal.

weapons threatsFrame from the film.

Ice pick under the bed. Why is it needed? Is Katherine really a psychopath capable of murder?

No, she’s not a psychopath. She is a researcher. She lives as she wants, and it is with this inner freedom that she attracts Nick, who is squeezed from all sides. He suddenly realizes that he can be himself – relaxed, instinctive, natural, he can only be next to her. Perhaps this is the essence of the film: the basic instinct is inner freedom. True, the way the main characters of the picture understand it makes you seriously think.

Initially, the captive Nick is at the mercy of his own addiction. He doesn’t even understand what it’s like to be free. His desire to break out of the box comes down to a banal desire for permissiveness and the absence of any restrictions. The beautiful Katherine, being the opposite of Beth, who (voluntarily or involuntarily) suppresses him, allows him to successfully utilize all his destructive impulses.

Verhoeven is a brilliant deceiver. He (in the form of Katherine) deceives Nick. Curran was the only person who knew that Gus’s murder scene was written before it actually happened. Realizing that he shot the innocent Beth of the murders, he dutifully gives himself into the hands of fate. And she has only two options for him: catch the killer by the hand, or die herself …

Verhoeven’s deception of the viewer lies in the fact that he made the viewer believe that “Basic Instinct” under the veil of an erotic aura tells a terrible detective story.

This is a truly creepy movie. But the question of who the killer is is not so important. This film, which became the ancestor of erotic thrillers, tells first of all about the destructive effect of libido: succumbing to reckless passion, a person becomes an easy prey for death.

Sharon StoneSharon Stone as Katherine. Frame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few pictures that are similar in meaning to “Basic Instinct” with Sharon Stone:

  • “Fatal Attraction” (USA, 1987). Dan Gallagher could not even imagine what a fleeting affair with a new employee would turn out for him. Unable to come to terms with parting, the girl declared a real hunt for him;
  • “9 1/2 weeks” (USA, 1985). The passionate romance of John and Elizabeth slowly turns into an abnormal, terrible game;
  • “Kill Me Softly” (USA, 2001). Madly in love with Adam, Alice believes that she has found in him a worthy life partner. She is gravely mistaken.

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