"The public persona that Paul Verhoeven has is of this kind of like barely contained wild man who's always out there trying to show full frontal fornication and decapitations every moment he can. That may, in an exaggerated way, be a part of Paul's personality, but Paul is also a very serious man and a very intelligent man."
-- Paul Sammon, science fiction historian
"He's so insane."
-- Casper Van Dien
October 2003: A couple updates listed on the Site Updates page.
About Paul Verhoeven
Paul Verhoeven is best known in America as the director of big, controversial films such as Basic Instinct, Total Recall, Robocop, and Showgirls. His trademark is unrestrained sex and violence, and this has predictably but somewhat unfairly caused his American films to be labeled as pure mind candy... at least upon first viewing. Many critics show an amusing tendency to retroactively reverse their opinions of Verhoeven films, especially the once much-maligned but now oft-praised Starship Troopers.
Many casual fans might not realize that Verhoeven had a thriving film career in his native Holland prior to coming to the United States. Several of his films remain the most attended ever in the Netherlands. Turkish Delight recently won a "best film of the century" award in a popular vote there, and his 1977 World War II film Soldier of Orange received a Golden Globe nomination. To American viewers, his European movies can be somewhat of a revelation; they are just as commercial as his American films and oftentimes even bolder in spirit and more graphic sexually (although it's hard to beat the pool scene in Showgirls). I defer to Verhoeven himself, in the speech he made when picking up his Razzies for Showgirls (the Razzies are awarded each year for the worst in film):
"When I was making movies in Holland my films were judged by the critics as decadent, perverted, and sleazy... so I moved to the United States. This was ten years ago. In the meantime, my movies are criticized as being decadent, perverted, and sleazy in this country."
Perhaps the most appealing thing about Verhoeven is his desire and ability to make films that simultaneously entertain and provoke thought, yet can be enjoyed on either level. We have been conditioned to think of movies as either popcorn fare or art films, but rarely do they dare to straddle the line. It's this dichotomy that makes Verhoeven's career so interesting to follow. Almost all his movies work at two levels, a fact that he is quick to both point out and poke fun at. In a director's DVD commentary, after discussing the political implications of the fascist, bright and shiny world of Starship Troopers, he suddenly exclaims, "There are no politics here. This is just basically big and ugly bugs on the table here."
Which just about sums it up, I think.
A short note on the site
Paul Verhoeven is one of my favorite directors, and his films have been quite popular here in the U.S. Even his critically reviled work like Showgirls, Starship Troopers, and Hollow Man has gotten plenty of attention, so it surprised me that there was not more information about him on the net. I couldn't find any comprehensive informational pages about him, so I decided to make my own. (Note: now there is the excellent PaulVerhoeven.net, which opened in August of 2002.) I hope you enjoy what I've got here, and if you have any suggestions or corrections please email me using the link below.
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