Before anybody starts thinking that I'm going to compare Basic Instinct (1992) to Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece Vertigo (1958) - don't panic. I found Basic Instinct a very average film that started well but unfortunately dragged out 45minutes too long, for which the plot and characters became boring, unrealistic - and the ending I no longer cared for. This was a shame, as I found Stone's character really cool and interesting at the beginning, and the pace of the film was fast in the first hour.
However, I was struck by how similar Sharon Stone's character, Catherine Tramell, was similar in appearance to Kim Novak's character in Vertigo, Madeleine. It turns out that I wasn't alone in this, and when I looked it up on Google, many others had noticed this similarity too. I don't know if the intention of the make-up artist or costume designer was to base Stone's appearance on Novak's, but it sure is similar, and one cannot deny that Novak's look in Vertigo is striking and unforgettable.
Here are just a few images to show the comparison. I'm sorry that this isn't a very long or interesting article, but I am always fascinated when films take inspiration from the classics - especially when it comes to characters and appearance.
The scene I will be referring to where Stone is most like Novak is in the infamous interrogation scene from Basic Instinct.
Firstly, the costume. Although the colours of the dresses are different, both are turtle neck, and are worn with a stylish, white coat. Stone wears a white dress - I'm supposing this is to symbolise that she is "innocent" of the crime that she is being investigated over - whilst Novak's was black - possibly to contrast her coat and show that there are two sides to her character. The outfit is striking, glamorous, yet very simple, and makes our leading ladies look memorable.
Secondly, is the hairstyle. In Vertigo, Novak's hairstyle is of particular importance, and although Stone's differs ever so slightly, it is still in the same French-style bun - tightly pulled back, revealing her fantastic face. I am not talking about the 'Carlotta' hairstyle that Novak sports in some scenes, rather the style she wears it in when she's not "in a trance."Another point - they both have very light blonde hair.
Finally, the make-up. Novak's eyebrows in Vertigo differ greatly from how she normally wore them. For this role, her eyebrows are much darker than her hair colour, thicker, and denser. Stone's are the same, but instead of being heavily drawn on, hers have not been plucked. The make-up is considerably light. Their eyes are framed and their flawless skin enhanced, but no heavy make-up is used - it appears that both make-up artists wanted to show their naturally beautiful features. Another similarity is they both wear a very pale lip - almost as pale as their skin. Their make-up is simple, low-key, but striking too, in that it shows off their incredible bone structure, mesmerising eyes, and natural attributes.
Anyone who has seen Vertigo will have noticed this when watching Basic Instinct. I tried to think of other similarities between the films but there were few notable ones. Both are set in San Francisco, and both feature a detective who follows and then becomes obsessed with a woman. But both women are very different - Novak is innocent and unaware of how Stewart will become attracted to her (although she is aware that she is being used in a murder plot), whilst Stone starts reeling Douglas in from the moment she meets him, and she is a murderer. Basically, there are connections but none can really be elaborated on. However, it is interesting that Novak's character be the basis for the look of Stone's in her most famous scene, especially when they are so different and the film involves a detective following and becoming obsessed with a woman in San Francisco. If anyone has any thoughts on this, please share in the comment section.