Michael Douglas and Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. a movie about a cauldron rabbit with a knife? Perhaps when it's a deliberate attack on feminism; confirmation of conservative values; an oblique blow to the all-American family; a cautionary tale for self-serving yuppies; or even a parable about AIDS. Fatal Attraction, released in theaters on September 18, 1987, was given all these titles and more.
Like a rat in love who finally got what she deserved, she was hacked to pieces, and critics and scientists explore everything. the subtext lurks in the smoldering, seductive heart of the film.
What is certain is that the film is recently rebooted as a decidedly average Paramount+ TV shows are a cultural phenomenon with sexual overtones. The story of a failed weekend romance between slick family man Dan Gallagher (Michael Douglas) and careerist Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) turns into an ultra-privileged man's worst nightmare.
Alex gets pregnant and then – worse – finds herself possessed by a harpy, a home-destroyer who shows her affection by cutting her wrists, making ruthless phone calls, and utterly despising a woman.
This made “rabbit cauldron” – a reference to Alex's most heinous crime, boiling the family rabbit – into common parlance, and set the template for a breed of seemingly charming but actually crazy stalkers from movies like “Sleeping with the Enemy,” Lonely White Woman” and “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle”, not to mention The Replacement and Dr. Foster.
She scared men away from extramarital affairs (as many would-be adulterers later confessed to Glenn Close), earned $320 million worldwide, and received six Oscar nominations. It also sparked a furious feminist debate over a supposed misogynistic agenda.
For some, Alex demonized the independent businesswoman prowling the urban jungle with her jellyfish-like tendrils to prey on unsuspecting, easily seduced men; while Dan's wife Beth (Anne Archer) was the epitome of innocence – an incredibly beautiful, almost holy mother.
However, there was no agenda or subtext for director Adrian Lyne. Fatal Attraction was a searing, cinematic page turn. “After that, I thought it was all journalistic nonsense,” he says. “The whole AIDS analogy and the idea that it was a sweeping condemnation of career women. It was a story about a man who turned out to be psychotic… The idea that you then make any generalizations was simply ridiculous. But many have said so.”
Based on screenwriter James Dearden's own short film, Sabotage, the script was delayed in Hollywood by studios and would-be directors. Flashdance and 9 ½ Weeks addict Adrian Lyne recalls the first time he read the script on his farm in Provence.
poster for the movie “Fatal Attraction”
“My wife was asleep,” he says, “and I just started reading the script, sitting on those stone steps. I read it all in an hour or so, then woke up my wife and said, “If I don't screw this up, I think it's going to be awesome.” Turner, then the audience will come.”
It's not hard to see how the finished film was analyzed in such social and political terms. AIDS was the moral panic of the time; conservatism was at the capitalist core of Ronald Reagan's America; and a month after the release of Fatal Attraction, the crash on Wall Street ended the glorious years of the yuppie house.
However, allegations of misogyny were linked to the film's ending. Alex initially slit her own throat and framed Dan for the murder, a ransom for the film's recurring musical theme, the operatic tragedy Madama Butterfly.
> Glenn Close and Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction
But it performed poorly in test audiences, so a new ending was filmed, this time the textbook ending, in which a distraught Alex breaks into the family home to make one last bite and play dice before being blown away by healthy wife Beth.< p> “We showed the film and felt like the last 10 minutes had dried up and didn't make an impression,” Line says. “People like to say, 'Oh, they were trying to squeeze extra money out of it by making a commercial ending', but we were all talking about finding an ending that would work out dramatically.”
To a cynical look, Dan was off the hook. Instead, Alex was punished for daring to get pregnant and be abandoned by her lover. Glenn Close struggled against the revised ending.
“We all actually resisted it,” says Line. “We liked the idea of the Madama Butterfly ending. Glenn was worried about being a one-note villainess. She had just bought an apartment in the attic, and we were sitting on the floor in this empty room and talking about her character and that she was holding this knife in her hands.
Glenn Close, Michael Douglas and Ann Archer in Fatal Attraction. Photo: Corbis Historical
"I said, “You don't have to swing this thing, it can dangle from the side.” into the flesh of her thigh. I thought, “God, this is really exciting… the thought that she won't even notice it.” Because by this time she is already a psychopath. We were both in awe of it and it created incredible danger for the stage. This made the film very scary.”
Watching the original ending now is unsatisfactory. When Dan is arrested, there is a sly plot twist in which Beth finds a tape of Alex threatening suicide – a “Get out of jail free” figurative card. The bitch still seems to get her retribution. “I thought it was a little silly,” Line says. “I would love it if he was accused and put in jail!”
It may be too simplistic to discuss Fatal Attraction in terms of heroes and villains. Despite the fact that Alex's wardrobe is almost entirely monochrome – like some shades of her personality – it is not so black and white. />
Alex's crimes are blatant and obscene: killing a rabbit in cold blood (and hot water); pour acid on Dan's car; and the kidnapping of his daughter in the afternoon. Dan's crimes are less grandiose, but duplicitous and quietly touching: Alex's emotional discarding; victim blaming; and returned without hesitation from weekend romance to family life. Worse, his discretion and deceit are unsettling.
“A one-night stand is very easy,” says Line. “But the idea that you can just move on and it means nothing to you, trampling this whole person, I thought was wrong.
“I remember Michael saying, 'God, give me something to do with this woman!' Obviously, his character was reprehensible, and we talked a lot about it. I said, “No, you can't, you're in no position to… you're to blame.” But there was a lot of Kirk's father in him, and he felt he had to do something. He just saw himself suffering at her hands.”
Fatal Attraction is still an uncomfortably stretched thriller, a film of escalating horror in which every ringing of the phone escalates the tension. Shot in a stylish, almost romantic hue, the soft floating edge quickly transforms the jittery urban vibe.
The best scene in the movie is when Dan returns home and finds Alex and his wife there on the pretext of buying their apartment. Suddenly, we're in Dan's head – wobbly, erratic – and the tension makes us dizzy.
Laine torments us even more at the film's climax, when Alex invades the idyllic Gallagher country house. When she attacks Beth in the bathroom, Dan makes tea downstairs, the whistle of the kettle drowning out Beth's screams.
“It’s great fun,” says Lyne, “to see how long you can keep him in the kitchen—to see the water dripping, the dog licking the water—and how long the kettle can whistle and how long he can’t hear. what's going on upstairs. If you stay a second longer, it builds credibility and audiences don't buy it.”
It's the kind of mid-budget film that Hollywood has taken a back seat to in the superhero era, which partly explains why Line quit filmmaking. .
“I was in France for six years and returned to another world,” he says. “I was lucky enough to make films for 60 or 70 million, but now they had to be made for 15 or 20. For a while, I didn't think I could make them properly. Now I understand that this is reality.
“And I can understand people who want to shoot The Matrix” , “Inception” or films with special effects. But I've always been interested in small pictures where you can put your shoes on the feet of the actors, identify yourself and suffer with them.
Fatal attraction, film, testifies to the power of cinema. conceived as a brilliant cauldron (well, a rabbit cauldron), has been interpreted in so many ways and continues to be analyzed in startling—often scathing—detail. With intentional overtones or not, this is a film that touches as deeply as you want it to.
When viewed through the 21st century filter and with the higher self-awareness that men now have, the character dynamics are skewed. Despite all of Alex's insane manner of wielding a knife, Dan is a real breaker. Alex's famous line when she blackmails him, “I'm not going to be ignored, Dan”, seems less dangerous and fair enough.
Last shot, close-up of the Gallagher family. the portrait doesn't look like a happy ending; instead, it seems ironic. As Lyne says, just put yourself in Dan's shoes. How could you live with yourself? This is more than a movie about a cauldron rabbit with a knife, it's also about being one of those bastards.