Monday, April 03, 2006

Paul Verhoeven

["Basic Instinct 2"'s dismal box-office performance led me to look into...]
Paul Verhoeven (born July 18, 1938) is a Dutch-born film director best known for his sometimes extremely violent science fiction films....

He was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In his childhood he lived in Slikkerveer and from 1943 in The Hague. They lived not far from a German military basis with V2-rocket launchers. His father Wim Verhoeven was a school teacher and his mother Nel van Schaardenburg was a hat maker. In 1960 he graduated from the University of Leiden with a double major in mathematics and physics.

In his last years at university he also attended the Dutch Film Academy. He entered the Dutch Navy as a conscript and it was in that service that he gained his first exposure to film, making documentaries. When he left the Navy, he took his skills into Dutch television. In the sixties he made several short films. His first major success was the 1969 Floris television series, starring Rutger Hauer. The concept of Floris was inspired by series like Ivanhoe and Thierry La Fronde....

Paul Verhoeven's first feature film Business Is Business was released in 1971 and was not especially well received. His first national success did not come until 1973 with Turkish Delight, starring Rutger Hauer and Monique van de Ven. This film is based on a novel by bestselling Dutch author Jan Wolkers and tells a passionate love story of an artist and a young girl from a rather conservative background. The film got an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1974. In 1999 the film received a Golden Calf for Best Dutch Film of the Century. Verhoeven's 1975 film Katie Tippel was again featuring Hauer and Van de Ven, but it would not match the success of Turkish Delight.

Verhoeven built on his reputation and had an international success with his Golden Globe nominated film Soldier of Orange[1]. The film is based on a true story about the Dutch resistance in World War II, written by Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.

In 1980 he made the film Spetters with Renée Soutendijk and again Rutger Hauer. The story is sometimes compared to Saturday Night Fever, but the film has more explicit violence and sexuality (in this case also homosexuality) which are sometimes seen as the trademarks of Paul Verhoeven. Verhoeven's film The Fourth Man (1983) is a horror film starring Jeroen Krabbé and Renée Soutendijk. It was written by Gerard Soeteman from a novel by the popular Dutch writer Gerard Reve. This film would be Verhoeven's last Dutch film production until the 2006 film Black Book.

Gerard Soeteman also wrote the script for Verhoeven's first American film, Flesh & Blood (1985), which starred Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Verhoeven moved to Hollywood for a wider range of opportunites in filmmaking. Working in the USA he made a serious change in style, directing big-budget, sometimes violent, special-effects-heavy smashes RoboCop (1987) and Total Recall (1990) - at the time the most expensive film ever produced. Both RoboCop and Total Recall won an Academy Special Achievement Award, respectively for Sound Effects Editing and for Visual Effects.

Verhoeven followed those successes with the non S.F. but equally intense and provocative Basic Instinct (1992), the top grossing film of the year. The most notorious scene shows Sharon Stone's character in a police interrogation, where she doesn't wear underwear underneath her skirt. Despite the NC-17 rating the film received two Academy Awards nominations, for Film Editing and for Original Music.[2] Then he made the poorly received NC-17 rated film Showgirls (1995), about a stripper in Las Vegas trying to have a career as a showgirl. The film won seven Raspberry Awards including the ones for worst film and for worst director. Paul Verhoeven was the first director to accept the award in person.

After Basic instinct and Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven returned to the S.F., graphic violence, and special-effects that had marked his earlier films with Starship Troopers, based on the noted & controversial S.F. novel by the same name, by Robert A. Heinlein (1997), and Hollow Man (2000). Both films received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. Hollow Man had some negative publicity after the truth got out behind Sony's fake journalist David Manning.


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