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Dir. Paul Verhoeven on Hollywood Capitalism and the Death of Art

Paul Verhoeven, Télérama

When Paul Verhoeven dominated the Hollywood, it was the late 1980s into the 1990s. His films were big budget blockbusters, laced with satire and enough sex to choke a small animal. When you added a heavy dose of violence to the mix, you got Verhoeven’s unique vision. His films mostly because classics of the era, and ingnited a science fiction renaissance.

Robocop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, and Basic Instinct are just some other many films that Verhoeven gave the world. Most of his films achieved cult status quickly, and (to this day) are go-to films of the era.

Total Recall, Carolco Pictures
Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in ‘Total Recall’. Image: Carolco Pictures

Out doing press for his new film Elle, Verhoeven talked with Fandor (via The Playlist) about the decline of the American film industry, and the lack of art in todays film. He blames bluckbuster films great success, and American greed for the shift in cinema. Here is what Verhoeven had to say:


“[A PG-13 rating is the] studio wanting to make money. R-rated movies are excluded because they limit the audience. The capitalist system completely dominates the American film industry. It’s all about the bottom line. Any argument about filmmaking or art is lost. Even the art of meaning is lost. There’s no meaning to American cinema anymore. The only meaning is money. It’s reduced to that, and it’s horrible.

Capitalism can also accept there are other values than money, but it looks like studios can only look at movies for pure profit. That’s why the R rating is gone. Then you get more people, but you sacrifice everything that is edgy or sexual. You sacrifice anything that might offend people. Now if you go to a multiplex, everything is PG-13.

You can still express yourself in American filmmaking. Look at ‘The Big Short,’ which I think is a really well-made movie. It’s still interesting and innovative. It’s still possible to make good American movies, and there’s an enormous amount of talent, but it’s not used in the maximum way… I don’t think things will stay that way. The balance might shift.”

Starship Troopers, TriStar Pictures
‘Starship Troopers’ Image: TriStar Pictures

Verhoeven goes on to say that he could be enticed to make another U.S. film, but it would have to be something that he wanted to do.  He said, “If they offered me a book like ‘The Shining,’ I would immediately say yes. I would love to do a clever horror film.”

Premiering at Cannes, Elle, Verhoeven’s rape revenge comedy is garnering mixed reviews, but is doing well with critics overall.


Brad Repka
I am an avid lover of all things Movies, TV, Games, and delicious other randomness. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comment!