Paul Verhoeven is by far the most accomplished Dutch-born and Dutch-American filmmaker. But despite his accomplishments in directing such well-known films as "Basic Instinct" , "Total Recall" , "Robocop" , "Starship Troopers" [1997} and "Hollow Man" , he is not well-known in the public mind.
Verhoeven was born in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on July 18, 1938 two years prior to World War II. He lived through the trauma of the war as a child. Following his primary and high school education he was accepted in one of the top universities in the country, the University of Leiden. He was a brilliant student in Mathematics and Physics and following his undergraduate work, he stayed at the University of Leiden to do graduate work. Following his graduate studies and research he was awarded the Ph.D. in Mathematics and Physics. This academic preparation was sufficient to ensure a lifelong career in academia or in a research institution. However, while at the university he became interested in filmmaking and participated in making some short films as early as 1964.
Following the completion of his studies at the University of Leiden he was required to fulfill his military obligations. At that time Holland still had required military service, and there were no exemptions, not even for a person who had earned a Ph.D. degree. He was able to join the Royal Dutch Navy, where his filmmaking skills were quickly realized. He was assigned to the Marine Film Service where he directed the making of a film marking the tercentenary of the Dutch Marine Corps. The film was named "Het Korps Mariniers", translated as "The Marine Corps". The result was a stunning 23 minute documentary film of the Dutch Marine Corps. The documentary film was awarded the "Silver Sun Award", a French award for military films.
The experience with filmmaking in the Royal Dutch Navy caused Verhoeven to dedicate his life career to the screen. His first civilian venture was the 12-episode Dutch television series "Floris". The series was an adventure series about a medieval Dutch Ivanhoe played by the now well-known Dutch actor, Rutger Hauer. The series was phenomenally successful and established Verhoeven's career, at least in his home country of the Netherlands.
"Floris" was followed in 1971 by a Dutch comedy entitled "Business is Business", known in Holland by the title "Wat Zien Ik". It quickly became the fourth highest grossing Dutch film. It was followed in 1973 by a film entitled "Turkish Delight" again with Rutger Hauer playing the major role. "Cathy Tippel" followed in 1975 and "Soldier of Orange", translated in Dutch as "Soldaat van Oranje" followed in 1977.
The film "Soldier of Orange " is regarded as one of the best and popular Dutch film ever made. It was nominated for and won the Golden Globe award. It was released in the USA in 1979. Rutger Hauer again played the major role in the film. The film was especially popular among those who lived through and survived the Nazi German occupation in the Netherlands. It portrayed the struggle of the Dutch during the occupation as well as the efforts, some successful and some not so successful, of escaping from the dreaded Nazi oppressors.
Verhoeven made several more Dutch films before moving on to the U.S. In 1979 he made "Gone", entitled in Dutch as "Voorbij, Voorbij". The film was made for television and was followed by the movie "Spetters" in 1980, for which Verhoeven was also the author. I n 1983 he made the movie "The Fourth Man", in Dutch known as "De Vierde Man", and in 1985 he made the U.S. financed movie "Flesh and Blood". The latter movie is now available on video as "The Sword and the Rose".
After Verhoeven moved to the U.S., he made a series of mega-hit movies. The first one was "RoboCop" in 1987, a science fiction saga. The next blockbuster, "Total Recall" was released in 1990. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone. It earned two Oscar nominations and received the Academy Award for its dazzling special effects. The above two blockbuster films were followed by the film "Basic Instinct". It became the number one box office hit in 1992. It starred Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone.
Having achieved greatness with his latest three films, Verhoeven may have felt the need to become more adventurous and to fulfill the need to make a public statement. It came in the form of a film entitled "Showgirls" released in 1995. The film lifted the veil from the city that never sleeps, Las Vegas. The film revealed the scarred face of Las Vegas, and delivered a message not appreciated by many of those who viewed Sin City only through rose-colored glasses.
A follow up to "Showgirls" was the movie "Starship Troopers" in 1997. "Hollow Man" followed in the year 2000. The first film fits in with Verhoeven's science fiction genre. The movie was a monumental undertaking. For several years not much was heard about Verhoeven's film directing activities. However, in 2006, Verhoeven reappeared on the film scene with his direction of a movie about underground resistance activities in the Netherlands during the Second World War. The movie entitled "Black Book" became an instant success. It was filmed largely in the Netherlands.
One would think that a Hollywood name such as Paul Verhoeven must be unique. But it is not. There was another filmmaker by the name of Paul Verhoeven. He was not nearly as famous and was of German background. He was born on June 23, 1901 and died on March 22, 1975.
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