Fatal Attraction

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

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Plot: What’s it about?

Looking back on all of the movies of the 80's, a few stand out as ones that will stand the test of time. Certainly movies like Raging Bull, E.T., Platoon and Amadeus will be looked back upon as movies that are truly great. While this may or may not be the case with Adrian Lyne's contribution, Fatal Attraction, it can certainly be said that this movie stirred up its share of controversey back in the Regan years. And why not? While not the first movie of it's supposed genre (the psycho girlfriend thing), it was one of the frontrunners. Even now, 15 years later (has it been that long…geez), this movie has enveloped itself in the vocabulary of our language. Admit it, what's the first thing you would think of when some said something like "That girl pulled a total Fatal Attraction on me". Granted, I don't think I've ever heard that sentence spoken, but you get the jist of what is trying to be said. So how does a movie truly stand the test of time? Maybe it's one that goes beyond making a lot of money (which this did), and becomes a part of our lives. And though the movie is a work of fiction, this sort of thing happens every day.

We meet Dan Gallagher, a prominent New York attorney who is going about his life one day at a time. He appears happily married to lovely wife (Anne Archer) and all seems well. But let's just skip right to the meat of the movie, eh? Dan happens to have a fling (aka "One Night Stand") with Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) in the confines of an elevator. Perhaps Aerosmith's "Love in an elevator" would have been a good choice of music here? Perhaps not. Who knows? But Dan dismisses the fling, thinking it was just one of those things that happened and he can go on with his life, loving his wife and child. This, of course, would be way to easy of a way out and as kharma goes, bad things happend to bad people. It's then that Alex starts calling and showing up to meet Dan. Seeing that this is not a one night thing, the fireworks begin.

It seems that these sort of movies have become Michael Douglas' stock in trade. If he's not remembered for this role, surely he comes to mind with two others of this genre in Basic Instinct or Disclosure. Though he did win a Best Actor for Wall Street as well. Fatal Attraction, though the plot is relatively simple, is a movie that was ahead of it's time. Long before we had Clinton in the White House doing who knows what, movies like this told of the consequences of the evil that men do. And though it was an innocent mistake, it became one that changed his life forever. If you've never seen Fatal Attraction, then by all means, the DVD is now here and it's certainly worth a look. For true fans of the movie, Paramount has put together a fairly decent special edition here and it's well worth the price of admission. You'll never look at rabbits the same way again, though!

Video: How does it look?

Fatal Attraction is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a more than average presentation, but some flaws surface that keep the score down. Most scenes come off as very sharp and impressive, but a few scenes display some issues that trouble me. The rest of the image is terrific however, with bold colors, accurate flesh tones, and razor sharp contrast levels. All in all, not a bad effort, but it could have looked a tad better.

Audio: How does it sound?

I found the new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix to be more than adequate, though not as expansive or effective as I had hoped it would be. The rear channels are used to enhance atmosphere at times, but never with much power and not often enough. I felt some scenes could have used a boost, even if a small or subtle one. The mix has a nice amount of range and punch though, especially since of it’s age. The dialogue is a little low at times, but this has always been the case with this movie and in the end, you can make out all of the vocals, so worries.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Paramount has put together a really nice Special Edition here. Some (not me) may remember their “Director’s Series” Laserdiscs from a while back, I seem to remember that Star Trek IV was in that short-lived series as well. Well, with a controversial movie, we need lots of supplements to back it up with, right? Yes. In addition to the ovbious improvements in picture and sound (anamorphic and 5.1 respectively), we do get a commentary with director Adrian Lyne. Lyne, like his track for Indecent Proposal is rather dull and dry. I felt that is was a bit self-serving as well. Still, you paid the money for the disc, might as well listen to the track (it ain’t that bad)! But the majority of the features are in the form of featurettes. The first of which is “Forever Fatal: Remembering Fatal Attraction” which runs close to half an hour. As you might of guessed, this is a look back at the film and with interviews with the cast and crew, we get a good sense for how controversial it was (and in many ways, still is). The original ending is discussed, but we’ll cover that later. Also included is a shorter, ten minute feature entitled “Social Attraction” which deals with how the movie was accepted in mainstream society. Naturally, with a movie this popular, it’s bound to have some impact on our society and this covers that. The “Visual Attraction” runs about 20 minutes and featurs production designer Mel Bourne, costume designer Ellen Mirojnick, makeup artist Richard Dean, and cinematographer Howard Atherton. It’s a bit more in-depth and focuses on the costume and look and feel of the film. Interesting how much style has changes since then. That hair…oh my!

Some rehersal footage is also shown, this runs about 8 minutes. Featuring Glenn Close, this is a very interesting feature and one I’d like to see on more discs. Lastly, the original ending is shown here and it’s no secret that Close wanted this one in the film. I won’t divulge what it is, naturally, but it’s worth the wait! A theatrical trailer is shown in anamorphic widescreen as well. Paramount is upping the ante on some of their more popular catalog titles, with movies like Beverly Hills Cop and this, hopefully we’ll see some more editions like this of future movies (or maybe past Paramount movies that were given the very basic treatment).

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