Thursday, February 23, 2023

The odd tale of Director Paul Verhoeven

 I first saw a Paul Verhoeven picture in 1977. It was the "Dutch Romantic -Thriller" *, A Soldier of Orange.

It was the story, well, I'll take the IMDB synopsis.

Young Dutch Students just before the outbreak of World War 2. Leiden, the Netherlands. Introduction on Students life in University and fraternity. As soon as the war starts, many students join the resistance.

In the image from the movie, you can see a very VERY young Rutger Hauer. Most remember Rutger as the evil man in "Blade Runner."

Hard to believe it is Rutger Hauer isn't it?

Verhoeven did other thoughtful and quiet Dutch Movies and TV before being lured to Hollywood in 1984 - after his great movie, The 4th Man

At the time Verhoeven was a very hot director and had been promised by the studio he could pick his movies - and everyone, include him, expected a similar line of artsy / thriller type romances. But not long after he arrived, his studios (Orion and Universal) had bombed out getting someone to direct RoboCop. The studios had approached and been turned down by a number of young reasonably famous directors. They all said no mainly due to the excess violence - which the writer said was necessary for the comic book movie.

Then the studios told Verhoeven that IF he did Robocop, he could go back and have his pick of pictures next. How do I know? At the time Verhoeven was represented by the Lantz Office where Greg worked. Greg knew I loved Verhoeven and gave me the details as they happened.

Verhoeven did RoboCop and it was huge. And suddenly Verhoeven was an action director. He liked it, and it made tons of money - of which he often got a cut.

And so he did more. And this very artsy director followed up with: Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Starship Troopers and The Hollow Man.

In 2006 he directed The Black Book, a true story based on some Dutch / Jewish resistance during Nazi Germany. It was in Dutch and did not do particularly well in the States.

Paul Verhoeven and wife Isabelle Huppert

He has gone back to Germany, married Isabelle Huppert (the actress) and seems to have started making movies in Dutch again. He release Elle in 2016 and Benedetta in 2021.

So his story is an odd one. He followed many directors from overseas to Hollywood in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. His story is different because he went back to Europe and restarted working on the movies he loves.

*IMDB described his movies as "romantic-thrillers" and I think the description is apt.

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