Starship Troopers (1997)

Hands out armored vests to Cervaise, lissener and me.
Brilliant. I’ll have to get Showgirls now, but that was reallly good. Cervaise’s deconstruction helped a lot, so did the director’s commentary.
For those people that shat on Verhoeven Reconsidered," I offer this transcript of the director’s commentary:

PV: The voice you are hearing here, now, is Paul Verhoeven, the director of Starship Troopers.
EN: And this is Ed Neumeier, the writer of Starship Troopers.
PV: And we are here in the middle of controversy, immediately. It’s interesting; I’m quoting here, an article of Richard Schickel in Time Magazine, who said that “maybe it’s saying that war inevitably makes fascists of us all”. Then of course he says that the best guess is that the filmmakers didn’t think of anything like that at all because they were “only concerned with the special effects”. But I can tell you that the movie is, in fact, in our opinion, stating that war makes fascists of us all.
EN: That’s true; that was the theme. And this, this opening was modeled on the “why we fight” films of World War II; in fact the movie was modeled on propaganda films made during World War II.
PV: Yeah they’re propaganda films from the American propaganda films, and of course there is also, a clearly undisguised statement about propaganda films of the Third Reich. In fact, it’s saying, of course, that this fascist propaganda, that is kind of apparent in the movie, should really be read, at least that’s how we meant it, should be read as something that is “not good”. So, whenever you see something that you think is fascist, you should know that the makers coincide with your opinion, thinking that it is not good, that it is not a good statement, and this is not good politics and if you see a black uniform you should also know BAD, BAD, BAD, you know, it’s very simple, you should not read it differently than that. We all agree with that, it’s bad, if you see Carl later in his black uniform, and when he makes certain statements – and we’ll come back to that later – then you know that it’s about “bad”.
EN: Yeah, when I was growing up it was always these films, these kind [sic] of action/adventure films, were always called “fascist”. I remember a lot of my really liberal friends always used to tell me that Robocop [another movie by PV&EN] was a “fascist” film. So I, I thought we just like should king of go out and out {? All out?}, and sort of make a film that was essentially a fascist action/adventure film. So that’s what we have done.
PV: Yeah well, I would see it a little bit more nuanced [chuckles], because I feel that we are, we are certainly stating in the movie that we disagree with some of the premises that are said here - …
[Classroom scene starts]
PV: Anyhow, we are back in, now we’re back in the movie here, I think, and we’ll leave the politics for some time, we can leave them alone…
EN: Well, this is the biggest political statement of the film! [Laughs]
PV: Although in f- Right, OK well forget about it, you go ahead here. [Laughs]
EN: Well, this is just where-, this is just showing how this society is completely oriented toward its political stuff, and they teach it in the schools, and it’s actually kind of a society that works pretty well - there’s no sexism, there’s no racism, later we’ll see that there’s very little crime, in fact they seem to have achieved the ideal sort of politically correct society – EXCEPT THAT we sort of question how they have achieved it, that they have achieved it.
PV: Yeah, because the political- most important political statement that is in this scene is Rasczak saying, in more-or-less at the point where we are now , where he says that violence is the supreme authority that solves everything, which is of course questioned by Dizzy but then of course not accepted by him. You could of course say that this kind of statements [sic] not so much going back to the Third Reich; I would say they are much more statements about American politics. I mean, the whole movie is about the United States, all statements are about the United States, it‘s not- or any superpower for that sake [sic], you know, you could say, as well for Russia ten years ago, or perhaps for China in the future, or for Germany in the past. But it’s certainly also talking about American politics NOW, and so it is really saying of course, as we have perceived in the last twenty, thirty years, that there is a tendency in American politics that if people disagree, that we would use power, and violence. I mean, very apparent now in the conflict with Iraq, but also clear in any conflict in the Middle East, especially of course the overthrown from [of] the Iran government before the Shah, or - I mean there is multiple examples [sic] of course, if it’s Panama or if it’s Vietnam - is just the idea that power and violence is [sic] always used at a certain moment when things take too much time to solve in a more democratic way. And I think that is what the movie – the statements, the political statements of the movie are about. I mean, that’s my opinion, but that’s – I mean that’s how I read the script. [Laughs]. I mean, he’s the writer, he can tell me that it’s not true, that it’s not about American politics, American politics are [sarcastically] “always benevolent”.

That pretty much sums the movie up. Really intelligent, subversive content.
What surprises me is that nobody got this when it was released.

It isn’t hidden. The film beats you over the head with it in some places; like Carl’s Nazi uniform, the early classroom scene, etc. It surprises me that this, and most of the subversive themes of Verhoeven’s “oeuvre” are missed. I’ve seen Totla Recall and Robocop, so I am at least marginally familiar with him now.
I’ll report on Showgirls shortly.

Totla Recall was the little-known prequel to Total Recall.:o

Obviously if “nobody” got the movie when it was released then ultimately the movie makers failed.

But I was 14 when I first watched Starship Troopers and I got it. It’s not that clever, really. It’s not very good either. People got it, they were just not impressed.

The idea that Paul Verhoven is some kind of twisted genius who’s tricked the entire world with his subversive filmmaking is ludicrous. IMHO, of course.

Did you type out that transcript yourself?

I got all that the first time I watched it and I’m certainly not good at deconstructing movies. It still doesn’t make it a brilliant movie though. Opinions vary I guess.


I didn’t get “it” as being a fascist movie… but I did get the idea that it was a society built around militaristic values and army service… that can cover many different societies beyond fascist ones.

In fact that contrast between what is obviously a over militaristic warmongering society and the fact that they have no sexism, racism or overt discrimination to those WITHIN their society is made pretty clear. The outsider is a means of uniting too. I thought it was an interesting alternative view of how an “equalitarian” society can be made and still be scary.

It’s a criticism to the US clearly even then…

Ah, yes, Totla Recall, the famous Czech filmmaker. Really a groundbreaking visionary. Too bad his career was cut short by that unfortunate encounter with a fish cart.

So, Verhoeven has a deep understanding of film history and the antecedents of the current cinema, and uses this knowledge to infuse his movies with a darkly ironic and biting subtext.

Too bad the movies still suck.

Well, I read the book so…ya, I ‘got’ it. :slight_smile: The book was loads better than the movie btw.


It’s not remotely true that no one got it when the film came out. I knew a lot of people who understood that Verhoeven was subverting Heinlein’s novel. I was only surprised when someone didn’t get it.

I think Ilsa’s point, which can hardly be contended, was that the “critical consensus” at the time of the movie’s release “didn’t get it,” as evidenced by the highly representative quote from Richard Schickel. I got it too, but the friend who saw it with me didn’t get it till I made her watch it again. Now she loves it and makes OTHER people watch it.

Also, coincidentally, I just posted my brief overview of Verhoeven in my “directors’ bios” thread.

I think the reason most of the people disliked that movie is beacause of the way everybody dies in that movie… most of the time, humans are the great warriors in action movies but in this one, humans are just slaughted by insects… nobody wants to be killed and most of the people doesn’t like insects… that equals most of the people disliked the movie and didn’t pay atention to the sarcastical or political or suversive part of it… even if you put something so obvious as a nazi uniform.
I liked the movie, a lot, and i saw it more as a sarcastical movie than a political one… i got, i guess, most of its ideas from the very begining, but i’m a sarcastic person

Isn’t the enormously successful Alien franchise based on that exact premise? I think one of the (many) reasons the movie failed is that it felt like a cheap rip-off of the Colonial Marines from Aliens.

That is pretty ridiculous, IMO. It is contentious as to wherther or not the films “fails” at all, and to suggest that it ripped of Alien is pretty lame, IMO.
Good bio, lissener. I might have to get Showgirls tomorrow.

I’ve not seen Triumph Des Willens, though I imagine it would help in understanding this film even more. The only Riefenstahl I’ve seen are the two Olympia films.

It’s boring. No, I mean it. Painfully boring close-ups of clone-like beings and long march sequences with Hitler doing his best “I’m am So Proud to Be German” impression. It couldn’t persuade me to tie my shoes, let alone grab a gun and fight the enemies of der Vaterland. But maybe you had to be there.

I will give her credit for excellent camera work, though. Some beautiful shots were taken. Too bad you gotta watch the couple thousand repeats of those same shots as well as the painful dreck shots that ended up with them.

And my contention is that it failed. Feel free to contend the opposite. Wouldn’t be much of a thread if you didn’t. Speaking of which:

Why is suggesting that Starship Troopers borrowed from Aliens lame? If Verhoeven can copy from Leni Riefenstahl, he can copy from James Cameron. If you buy lissener’s theory that most of Verhoeven’s American work is done in reaction to the excesses of American cinema, then what bigger target is their to lampoon than Mr. Titanic? Would you take exception to the remark if I called it an homage?

Ah, yes, of course. The call of the Bad Film Apologist: “You didn’t get it.”

A film’s merely having a message doesn’t make it a good film, or even a tolerable one. A film with a message, even one that you could call “subversive” without busting a gut laughing, will not save a film with horrible acting, terrible pacing, substandard direction and a lousy script. If all you needed for a good movie was a message, you wouldn’t need actors, costumes, or sets. You could just film the producer reading a manifesto.

“Starship Troopers” may have had a message - well, it certainly DID, and it was about as subtle as a hydrogen bomb explosion - but that does not mean it was a good movie. I GOT the movie. The film’s messages were obvious to me. It still blew goats. The acting was amateurish (although it may have been the only time I’ve ever enjoyed Michael Ironside), the script was inconsistent, the battle scenes were ludicrous. It sucked, message or no. It failed the Siskel Test.

I just simply can;t see the resemblance at all. It just struck me as a cop out. I suppose I see your point, but Alien was a claustrophobic thriller, not a sci-fi epic. I just fail to notice any connection is all.

Not to mention, Triumph Des Willens can hardly be less boring than Olympia: Fest Der Volker. :slight_smile:

Ah, still failing to get it, the call of the insufferable jerk.

The acting was supposed to be amateurish, it is a satirical propaganda film. Propaganda films are, with the exception of Riefenstahl, amateurish in the extreme. The direction and script all tied in with that.

The film’s messages were obviously not obvious too you.
Casper Van Diem was supposed to be a slackjawed numbnuts with no real feeling.

Damn, should I even bother with a Showgirls thread?

Damn, should I even bother with spelling, grammar and punctuation?:o
[sub]It’s laaate.*

Damn, should I even bother with spelling, grammar and punctuation?:o
[sub]It’s laaate.[/sub]