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Paul Verhoeven, Starship Troopers, and Fascism

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#1 littlefuzzy


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Posted 21 July 2010 - 05:07 PM

(taken from the Steven Spielberg director's thread, I was going to post it there, but I thought it was too much of a tangent.)

I have lots of theories I've concluded about the more mysterious films Iíve seen, but as soon as I hear the original intent from the director's mouth I have no choice but to go with it. Their vision should not be ignored when the art is theirs.

In one respect, listening to Paul Verhoeven's commentary on Starship Troopers kind of ruined the movie for me. His "War is bad, so I dressed them in Nazi uniforms to show that" was really pretty pointless.

First, the movie was purely popcorn, and Verhoeven isn't known for being an Art director, I definitely think this is a case where he should have left his politics out of the film.

Second, Robert Heinlein would be spinning in his grave to see the way Verhoeven turned it into a completely fascist society. Heinlein was closer to Libertarian from what I understand, and the society was NOT a fascist society. Basically, non-veterans were non-citizens. They had all human rights, except the right to vote (it's been a while since I've read the book.) It boiled down to "if you hadn't served your country, what right did you have to help determine policy, which might include getting young men and women sent to die in combat." They used flogging as punishment for some military and civil offences, and the death penalty for a very few. Something like that might be a better deterrent than another six months in a comfy prison with free food, cable TV, a workout yard, and so on (all paid for by the state.)

Third, the war in the story was a necessary evil, Earth was drawn into the conflict the way America was in World War II. It wasn't like Vietnam or Iraq, etc. The bugs had one goal, and that was to wipe out humans (in the galaxy, or at least on Earth.) Humans were fighting for personal and racial survival.

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#2 Duke Togo

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Posted 21 July 2010 - 05:23 PM

I loved the Nazi satire in Starship Troopers, which had the same attitude and feel of the satire in Robocop. Maybe it just wasn't for you, but I found these elements of his films were able to elevate the material. I can't agree that he was straying outside the norm in Starship Troopers, his satirical dark humor has always been a staple of his science fiction. Science fiction in general seems to always be tied to some aspect of our society, it is quite often cautionary and bleak.

#3 Izo


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Posted 21 July 2010 - 06:04 PM

Good thread!

I feel that Starship Troopers is one of Verhoeven's more interesting films, and I don't see how it would be half as entertaining without

On one point you made, Fuzz, I completely disagree. I haven't read/seen the source material, but a filmmaker has zero obligation to stay to it if he so chooses. Sometimes this works to the benefit of the film, sometimes not, but it usually pisses off fans of the source. As much as Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye is a masterpiece, I cannot, as a crazyfan of Raymond Chandler, help but grit my teeth during the ending.

Fun Fact: Takashi Miike has called it his favorite movie.

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