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THEATRST 187S Reading Theater

Published : 03-Sep,2021  |  Views : 10


1.What is the true subject or theme of the film, and what kind of statement, if any, does the film make about the subject? Which elements and which scenes contribute most to addressing the theme of the film?
2.How do all of the separate elements of the film relate to and contribute to the theme, central purpose, or total effect?

Film Elements:

e.Narrative – The manner in which the story is told. What is the plot structure? Is it chronological or non-linear? Are there flashbacks or other narrative devices and why are they used?
b.Acting – the qualities of the performances. Is the acting realistic or is it mannered? Are the characters dynamic (do they change as the film progresses)? How?
c.Cinematography – The qualities of the photography and lighting. Identify specific scenes and camera shots that you thought were particularly interesting.
d.Editing – The pace and tempo, the use of transitions and the organization of the narrative. Identify any editing technique you thought was particularly interesting
e.Art Direction and Design – Locations, sets, effects, props, costumes and make-up.
3.What scenes in the film show the director’s style and how do they show it?
4.What were your personalreactions to the film? What are your personal reasons for liking or disliking the film?


Film Analysis

The essay makes an analysis of “Fatal Attraction” that was released in 1987 and directed by Adrian Lyne. The main cast includes names like Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer and Ellen Hamilton. (Fatal Attraction 2017). The paper investigates different film elements such the narrative of the film, the qualities of the performances, the cinematography, art direction and design and the editing.


The story of the spellbinding psychological thriller revolves around a happily married lawyer, who loves his wife and daughter. He has a one-night stand with a woman when his wife and child are out of town. However, when he wants to get rid of the woman, she grows obsessive about him and wants to see him on one pretext or the other. The lawyer tries to reason with the infatuated woman but there is no stopping her. The plot of the is not just about how two adults seize an opportunity to be together one night. The drama begins once the sex is over and how the woman starts making demands on time and attention of the layer. The narration of the film moves smoothly. There is a convincing psychological realism of the subject that goes on till the end. The narrative fiction exemplifies how marriage can get disrupted by the desire of an outsider (Segal 1). The plot moves nicely in the beginning but seems to get slightly off-track in between. However, there are some scenes that leave you wondering. For example, what Douglas, who plays the character of the lawyer, really feels about Close and how can he be so indifferent to her (Fatal Attraction 2017).

Theme of the film

The major themes of the film are adultery, family life, and mental illness. It exposes the disastrous consequences of a casual affair and displays a skillful treatment of women, infidelity, and sexuality. It also highlights the importance of pets in a family life and the discovery of the rabbit stew is indeed one o of the most intense scenes of the film (Suckley 2012) There is a mix of thrill, fear, sexuality and family values in “Fatal Attraction” that has proved to be a lucrative mix for a box office hit (Leonard 1).


'Fatal Attraction, a relatable thriller was one of the most talked-about films and made its way to getting six Oscar nominations for Best picture, director, actress and supporting actress. The movie struck a raw nerve with its social implications about marital infidelity (Krauss 2009). Michael Douglas plays an adulterer in   “Fatal Attraction” and the loving husband who gets carried away by the one night fling. He was so decent in the film that the audience respected him even when was unfaithful to his wife (Parker26).

Anne Archer plays the spurned wife, and her performance is seen to pick up near the climax of the film. (Fatal Attraction 2010). However, it is Michael Douglas, who brings the plot together as the adulterous lawyer (Fatal Attraction 2010).  In the movie, he taps into the human emotions such as fear, love and hate (Parker27).Douglas and Archer show excellent chemistry as husband and wife and come out to be very easy and natural.

Glenn Close, in the role of an obsessed and spurned lover, believes that her depiction of the knife-wielding publishing company editor shows a negative stereotype of the mentally ill. (Glenn Close says 2013).  She gave the best performance of her career with a mind-blowing acting. Her hard, steady gaze make her character both frightening and seductive (Maslin 1987). The actress sinks in her character, her sexuality, and lunacy (Krauss 2009).


The opening shot of “Fatal Attraction” begins with a sweeping view of New York skyline and then the shot moves into an apartment (Leonard 8). What made the scene of traumatized Ellen, the child, crying in bed so effective is the role of simple camera angles and the subtle music. The focus of the camera on the boiling pot, and the close shot creates a claustrophobic feel (Suckley 2012). The scenes of facing the truth between the lawyer and his wife seem unfinished, and, when Close kidnaps their daughter and scars her with the roller-coaster ride or when the wife breaks her arm in a car crash seems a bit too melodramatic (Leonard 1). The technique of intercutting, lifting the lid of the cooking pot and making the discoveries at the same time help the tension reach its peak.


The pacing and shot variety in “Fatal Attraction” create a montage that whirls and dazzles the audience with frenetic outbreaks of the image. The peaceful domestic scenes soon turn to danger as the visual modes of the film deviate with unhinged outbursts of violence (Oscar Horrors 2016). The rapid cuts and jagged camera angles suggest a menace. There is a use of montage to create suspense in the roller coaster or the scenes of the boiled rabbit. The audial or visual close focus of domestic and common objects such as the bath tap,  saucepan or the repeated ringing of the telephone add suspense(Segal 3).Moreover, the shots of the window or doorway are approached from the viewpoint of the aggressor. The shots in the sex scenes are quicker and are inserted with shots of spinning fans and bubbling kettles (Oscar Horrors 2016).

Art Direction and Design

The narration of the storyline is dotted with different sights and sounds to incite an emotional and volatile response from the audience. For example, the ringing of the phone and the high pitch sound of the boiling kettle (Leonard 7). Deaden wrote the screenplay for “Fatal Attraction,” and the use of phone shows the use of technology to wreak havoc in the lives of wayward lovers. In fact, the first phone call occurs within minutes of the film’s opening as started by Leonard (14).  While the exteriors in the film are bold and bright, the interiors are dingy but well lit. The green colors of the Central Park add a natural vibrancy to the frames. (Krauss 2009). The room and its objects and the colors scheme are dotted with white (Leonard 8), for example, the white shirt, the white bedsheets, that create a harmonious domestic space. The film remains two-dimensional, and lack of any other enhancements keep the audience focused on the tense interplay of the plot (Krauss 2009). The use of white in the lawyer’s costumes, white in the decors of the family and the darkness of the threatening chords send cryptic messages to the audience.

Director’s style

Adrian Lyne, as the director, displays a lot more range in the film and follows a manipulative approach along with an exceptional power of visual imagery (Maslin 1987). He uses mundane things like room, kitchen sink to turn into something very interesting and tactile. He creates a sinister mood in the film with some graphic violence and sex scenes (Krauss 2009). Fatal Attraction is indeed a successful nightmare generator as it establishes static safe zone showing the simple rhythms of everyday life, and then, it exploits a psychological vulnerability (Oscar Horrors 2016).

Personal reactions

What makes the film very likable is that those characters could be real and the situation very possible in real life. The simple life of an ordinary family could go haywire because of a single incident or event in life. The viewer will perhaps never know if Alex actually was pregnant and thus, there is a lot of gray areas in the film. The movie indeed keeps the viewer on edge but can be a bit dramatic at times.


"Fatal Attraction." rogerebert. 2017. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

“Fatal Attraction.” oscarmovs. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

"Glenn Close says she would approach Fatal Attraction role 'totally differently' today due toknowledge of mental illness." Daily Mail Reporter. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

Krauss, David. "The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take." bluray.highdefdigest. 2009. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

Leonard, Suzanne. "Fatal Attraction."  John Wiley & Sons, vol. 1, no. 1, 2009, pp. 1-152.

Maslin, Janet. "Film: 'Fatal Attraction' With Douglas and Close." NY times. 1987. Web. 30 Mar.2017.

“Oscar Horrors: The Dangerous Editing of "Fatal Attraction". The film experience. 2016. Web.30 Mar. 2017.

Parker, John. "Michael Douglas: Acting on Instinct."  Hachette UK, vol. 1, no. 1, 2011, pp. 1-319.

Segal, Naomi. "Daughters, Dogs and Death: Triangular Desire in Fatal Attraction, the Piano and
  the Talented Mr Ripley." eprints.bbk, vol. 1, no. 1, n.d., pp. 1-8.

Suckley, Jamie. "Fatal Attraction." Article. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2017.

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