The award-winning and often controversial Dutch director and screenwriter Paul Verhoeven began his career working in film and television in The Netherlands and scored his first big success with Turkish Delight in 1973 starring Rutger Hauer. Films such as Soldier of Orange (1977) and The Fourth Man (1983) followed and Verhoeven began to receive international recognition which paved the way for a career in Hollywood. Probably his most famous/infamous Hollywood film was BASIC INSTINCT, the film that made Sharon Stone a star. For the US release, the censors took the scissors to certain scenes, but the film was released uncut across Europe in 1992. That European version has now been restored from the original 35MM negative, supervised by Verhoeven himself, and this stunning new 4K version is available now with an Ultra HD™ Collector’s Edition plus standard Blu-Ray and DVD.
To mark the release we take a look through Paul Verhoeven’s filmography
Robocop – 1987
Verhoeven’s first ‘Hollywood’ film was the 1987 sci-fi actioner RoboCop starring Peter Weller. Set in a violent, near-apocalyptic Detroit, an evil corporation wins a contract from the city government to privatize the police force. To test their crime-eradicating cyborgs, the company uses street cop Alex Murphy (Weller) to test their RoboCop prototype. But when RoboCop learns of the company’s nefarious plans, he turns on his masters. Always one to take things to the extreme, Verhoeven emphasized the violence throughout the film, making it as outlandish as possible. The film was a surprise financial success upon its release in and praised for its clever action, special effects and deeper philosophical messages and satire. Verhoeven proved that he could deliver splashy crowd-pleasing entertainment, but there would always be something different and subversive about his films
Total Recall – 1990
Thanks to the financial success of Robocop, Verhoeven was trusted with helming a huge sci-fi action film starring Hollywood’s most bankable star. In Total Recall, the Dutchman took on the Austrian armed with one of the biggest production budgets to date. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as Douglas Quaid, a bored construction worker in the year 2084 who dreams of visiting the colonised Mars. He visits “Rekall,” a company that plants false memories into people’s brains, in order to experience the thrill of Mars without having to travel there. But something goes wrong during the procedure. With its ground-breaking special effects and the power of Arnie, Total Recall was a colossal hit. The unknown Sharon Stone was cast as Arnie’s girlfriend putting her in the sights of the Basic Instinct producers when that film came around.
Basic Instinct – 1992
When talking about Paul Verhoeven’s Hollywood career the film most likely to come to mind is Basic Instinct. As boundary-pushing today as it was in 1992, Basic Instinct redefined the erotic thriller genre, bringing a European perspective to sexuality in film. Featuring one of the most talked about scenes in film history, Basic Instinct is a blistering portrayal of sexual obsession, murder and betrayal. Michael Douglas starred as a hardboiled San Francisco detective, a troubled cop with a history of trigger-happy shootings and a weakness for beautiful women. Sharon Stone was Catherine Tramell, a stunning, enigmatic novelist with a talent for seduction. The death of a former rock star sends Nick into the orbit of the victim’s lover, Catherine, who immediately becomes prime suspect in the murder. Catherine ignites Nick’s suspicions and his passion, and he soon becomes involved in his most dangerous liaison yet.
Black Book – 2006
After 20 years of working and living in the US, Verhoeven returned to the Netherlands to make the WWII thriller Black Book, starring Carice Van Houten (Game Of Thrones) as a Jewish singer working for the Dutch resistance. Co-written by Verhoeven the story was based on several true events and characters. When her entire family are murdered in an attempt to reach safety in the liberated south of the country, Rachel (van Houten) infiltrates the Gestapo headquarters to spy on the Nazis. She uses her sexuality to seduce a high-ranking officer (Sebastian Koch) which leads to accusations of collaboration from her resistance colleagues. As audiences had come to expect from a Verhoeven film, Black Book featured plenty of raw violence, intense action, graphic sex scenes amidst the intrigue and treachery.
Elle – 2016
In 2016, Verhoeven followed Black Book with the French film Elle starring Isabelle Huppert who received her first Oscar nomination for her performance. In this psycho-thriller Michèle (Huppert) is violently raped by a masked stranger who breaks into her home. After the attack, instead of calling the police, she embarks on a dangerous game of cat and mouse as she tracks down her assailant.