Get ready for Total Verhoeven, a complete retrospective of the fearless director’s work on the occasion of the U.S. release of his acclaimed new film Elle (NYFF54), taking place November 9-23.

Few contemporary directors have inspired more debate than Paul Verhoeven, whose smartly entertaining films push the boundaries of sex, violence, and accepted good taste to daringly subversive ends. After a string of groundbreaking works in the Netherlands, Verhoeven eventually found his way to Hollywood, where he lent his complex, morally ambiguous worldview and facility for action spectacle to some of the most fascinating—and often controversial—studio films of the eighties and nineties.

An ironist who frequently works in so-called “disreputable” genres—science fiction, erotic thriller, melodrama—he combines a formal mastery with a satirist’s sensibility, delivering visceral thrills alongside provocative critiques of capitalism, militarism, and masculinity.




Total Verhoeven opens November 9 with a sneak preview of the director’s latest, NYFF54 selection Elle, starring Isabelle Huppert. Highlights of the complete retrospective include Verhoeven’s early Dutch films, rarely shown in the U.S. and all on 35mm, from his first feature, Business Is Business, to the last film he made before coming to Hollywood, The 4th Man; a 4K restoration of the uncut version of RoboCop; Basic Instinct and Showgirls on 35mm; as well as Verhoeven’s early short films, each centered around youths in school, which foreshadow the themes he would explore throughout his career: female dominance, technology, and war.

Verhoeven will appear in person for the retrospective, participating in Q&As after screenings of RoboCop on November 15 and his second Dutch feature, Turkish Delight, on November 16. Additionally, he will introduce Starship Troopers on November 15 and Showgirls on November 16.

Tickets will go on sale Thursday, October 27 and are $14; $11 for students and seniors (62+); and $9 for members. Tickets for the sneak preview of Elle are $18; $13 for members. See more and save with a 3+ film discount package (Elle excluded) or a $125 All Access Pass (Elle included).

Total Verhoeven is organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan. Special thanks to EYE Film Institute Netherlands; Sony Pictures Classics; Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.


Sneak Preview
Paul Verhoeven, France/Germany, 2016, 131m
French with English subtitles
Paul Verhoeven’s first feature in a decade—and his first in French—ranks among his most incendiary, improbable concoctions: a wry, almost-screwball comedy of manners about a woman who responds to a rape by refusing the mantle of victimhood. As the film opens, Parisian heroine Michèle (a brilliant Isabelle Huppert) is brutally violated in her kitchen by a hooded intruder. Rather than report the crime, Michèle, the CEO of a video game company and daughter of a notorious mass murderer, calmly sweeps up the mess and proceeds to engage her assailant in a dangerous game of domination and submission in which her motivations remain a constant source of mystery, humor, and tension. A Sony Pictures Classics release. An NYFF54 selection.
Wednesday, November 9, 6:30pm

Basic Instinct
Paul Verhoeven, USA/France, 1992, 35mm, 128m
Verhoeven’s sleek, sexually daring thriller is Vertigo for the 1990s. Michael Douglas is the troubled police detective seduced into a series of cat-and-mouse mind games by Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell, a cool, Hitchcock-blonde crime novelist with a penchant for sleeping with murderers and who may or may not be one herself. Throughout, Verhoeven revels in the story’s ambiguity, creating a world in which sex is both unbelievably hot and charged with menace, and nearly everyone is guilty of something. Even the ending is a tease.
Wednesday, November 9, 9:15pm
Tuesday, November 15, 3:45pm
Saturday, November 19, 6:45pm

Black Book / Zwartboek
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 2006, 35mm, 145m
English, Dutch, German, and Hebrew with English subtitles
Working in the Netherlands again after two decades in Hollywood, Verhoeven seized the opportunity to make an unusually complex World War II thriller. After her family is gunned down by the SS, a Jewish singer (Carice van Houten) goes undercover as a spy for the Dutch resistance, risking everything when she becomes romantically involved with a Nazi officer (Sebastian Koch). Shifting loyalties, double crosses, and Mata Hari-esque sexual intrigue abound, but what’s most striking is Verhoeven’s characteristic ambivalence: as in so many of his films he creates a finely shaded world in which everyone must make tough moral compromises to survive.
Monday, November 14, 3:00pm
Friday, November 18, 6:15pm


Turkish Delight


Business Is Business / Wat zien ik
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1971, 35mm, 90m
English-dubbed version
Verhoeven’s first feature is unmistakably his: outrageous, satiric, erotic, and gleefully unrespectable. It’s a chaotic comic portrait of two enterprising prostitutes (Ronnie Bierman and Sylvia de Leur) looking for love in between rendezvous with clients. (Their specialty: role-playing everything from chickens to corpses for their kinky customers.) A goofy, groovy tour through the red light district of swinging ‘70s Amsterdam, Business Is Business may be the most high-spirited, relatively untroubled film of Verhoeven’s career thus far, but it’s also the first iteration of one of his key themes: we do what we must to survive.
Thursday, November 10, 7:00pm
Sunday, November 13, 6:30pm

The 4th Man / De vierde man
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1983, 35mm, 102m
Dutch with English subtitles
While most of Verhoeven’s works can be read as subversive genre exercises, the last Dutch film he made before decamping for Hollywood plays like a feverish satire of a Serious European Art Film. Haunted by surreal visions of death and violence, a Catholic, alcoholic, bisexual writer (Jeroen Krabbé) is seduced by and shacks up with a suspiciously thrice-widowed beauty salon owner (Renée Soutendijk)—but he really has eyes for her sexy, would-be boyfriend (Thom Hoffman). One of the director’s most outlandish and inspired films is an alternately funny and freaky hothouse blend of oneiric symbolism, homoeroticism, religious iconography, and witchcraft.
Thursday, November 10, 9:15pm
Sunday, November 13, 4:15pm

Paul Verhoeven, USA/Spain/Netherlands, 1985, 35mm, 126m
Though it was Verhoeven’s first English-language film, Flesh+Blood is in many ways an extension of his Dutch work: it’s shot by regular cinematographer Jan de Bont, stars frequent leading man Rutger Hauer, and is marked by the director’s typically thorny sensibility. Italy, 1501: after they’re swindled by a nobleman, a band of mercenaries headed by the savage Martin (Hauer) get their revenge by kidnapping his son’s young bride-to-be (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Worlds removed from the chivalrous romance of Hollywood legends, this is a muddy, bloody, brutal vision of the Middle Ages, with a rapist-kidnapper antihero at its center. Little wonder it was met with indifference by American audiences unprepared for Verhoeven’s uncompromising worldview.
Saturday, November 12, 1:30pm
Sunday, November 20, 3:30pm


The Fourth Man


Hollow Man
Paul Verhoeven, USA/Germany, 2000, 35mm, 112m
Verhoeven’s last Hollywood film to date is this underrated, twisted take on The Invisible Man. Kevin Bacon is an egomaniac scientist who makes himself the human guinea pig in a top-secret, government-funded invisibility experiment—but this newly acquired “power” unleashes his inner homicidal maniac. Verhoeven makes inventive use of state-of-the-art special effects (ever wondered what an invisible man looks like underwater?) in this satisfyingly pulpy thriller, which is, “like his other films, the work of a macabre moralist who’s fascinated by the shape of our worst impulses” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).
Friday, November 18, 9:15pm
Sunday, November 20, 8:30pm

Katie Tippel / Keetje Tippel
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1975, 35mm, 107m
Dutch with English subtitles
One of Verhoeven’s most visually beautiful films depicts both the squalor and opulence of 19th-century Europe. Born into extreme poverty, Katie (Turkish Delight’s Monique van de Ven)—something like the great-grandmother of Showgirls’ ruthless Nomi—must rely on her tenacity to get ahead, as she goes from prostitute to artist’s model to fine lady in turn-of-the-century Amsterdam. Verhoeven twists this earthy, up-from-the-gutter tale—based on the memoirs of Dutch realist writer Neel Doff—into an indictment of capitalist exploitation.
Sunday, November 13, 8:30pm
Wednesday, November 16, 4:00pm

4K restoration of the uncut version!
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1987, 101m
Verhoeven demonstrated his ability to deliver both genre thrills and serious social commentary in this prescient and disturbing look at the rise of the corporate police state. In a dystopian, futuristic Detroit, a nefarious mega-conglomerate unveils the latest in crime-fighting technology: part cyborg, part revivified corpse of a police officer (Peter Weller) slain in the line of duty, RoboCop at first seems a surefire success—until he rebels against his programming. This sci-fi pulp masterpiece is packed with both inventive filmmaking—a grimy, cyberpunk look; satiric news broadcasts; chilling point-of-view shots—and provocative ideas about corporate takeover, the militarization of the police force, and the relationship between man and machine.
Friday, November 11, 7:00pm
Tuesday, November 15, 6:30pm (Q&A with Paul Verhoeven)
Thursday, November 17, 4:00pm
Tuesday, November 22, 9:30pm


The Hollow Man


Paul Verhoeven, USA/France, 1995, 35mm, 131m
Unbound by musty notions of “good taste,” Showgirls goes further than any other film of the 1990s in its orgiastic depiction of consumerism, crass spectacle, and the dark side of the American Dream. Elizabeth Berkley (in a tour-de-force of hysterical excess) stars as Nomi, a tough-as-nails drifter with a go-it-alone attitude and a murky past, who arrives in Las Vegas and sets about trampling on everyone around her—including Gina Gershon’s evil-seductive nightclub diva—as she fights her way up from stripper in a sleazy club to star showgirl. With its deliciously overripe dialogue and nigh-unhinged performances, Showgirls is both a delirious star-is-born satire and a terrifying vision of capitalism’s corruption of the soul.
Friday, November 11, 4:15pm
Saturday, November 12, 9:00pm
Wednesday, November 16, 9:15pm (Introduction by Paul Verhoeven)
Friday, November 18, 3:30pm

Soldier of Orange / Soldaat van Oranje
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1977, 35mm, 150m
English, German, and Dutch with English subtitles
This bracing World War II epic was the film that brought Verhoeven to Hollywood’s attention. It follows a group of college friends through the Nazi occupation of Holland, as two (Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé) becomes heroes of the resistance movement, while another (Derek de Lint) turns traitor. As usual, Verhoeven’s moral ambiguity and skewed sensibility keep things complicated: far from a patriotic flag-waver, Soldier of Orange is as knotty, subversive, and gonzo as war movies get (witness the hero performing a homoerotic tango), while demonstrating Verhoeven’s ability to balance action with involving human drama.
Tuesday, November 22, 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 23, 3:00pm

Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1980, 120m
Dutch with English subtitles
Something of a male-driven precursor to Showgirls: as he would do in that film fifteen years later, Verhoeven takes a lurid soap opera premise, subverts it with deadly dark humor, and dials up the emotional intensity to create a funhouse-mirror reflection of a sick society. Playing like a biker exploitation film as directed by Cassavetes, Spetters is a sexually charged psychodrama that charts the coming-of-age of three blue-collar, motocross-obsessed young men. Hopped up on testosterone, the boys live to race their dirt bikes and dream of one day becoming as famous as the world champion, Gerrit Witkamp (Rutger Hauer)—but fate has other things in store. Homosexuality, religion, suicide, misogyny, and empty-headed macho posturing are all addressed with an unflinching frankness and a razor-sharp satiric edge.
Thursday, November 10, 4:30pm
Saturday, November 12, 4:00pm




Starship Troopers
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1997, 35mm, 129m
Part comic book–style action adventure, part scathing satire of the military-industrial complex, Starship Troopers is one of the most subversive artistic acts ever perpetrated with a $100 million budget. Welcome to the 24th century, where fresh-faced, idealistic teens are encouraged to join up and become “citizens” by enlisting in the intergalactic army. They’ll grow up, see the universe, and, oh yeah, be slaughtered by the thousands as they battle giant, mutant insects threatening to wipe out mankind. Abetted by seamless special effects and impressively gory CGI carnage, Verhoeven delivers both a thrilling science fiction spectacle and a devastating takedown of jingoistic militarism.
Friday, November 11, 9:00pm
Tuesday, November 15, 9:15pm (Introduction by Paul Verhoeven)
Saturday, November 19, 9:30pm

Total Recall
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1990, 113m
2084: Arnold Schwarzenegger is construction worker Douglas Quaid, whose virtual reality vacation to Mars turns into the ultimate head-trip when he discovers that his entire life (including wife Sharon Stone) is a sham based on implanted memories. Jetting off to the real Red Planet to find out the truth, he finds himself on the run through a grungy, capitalist dystopia populated by proletarian mutants. Verhoeven’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” is like RoboCop played at hyper-speed, with its themes of corporate control, memory, and identity delivered in an even faster, funnier, and (thanks to Rob Bottin’s impressively icky makeup effects) gorier package.
Saturday, November 12, 6:30pm
Saturday, November 19, 2:00pm

Tricked / Steekspel
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 2012, 55m
English and Dutch with English subtitles
In a daring online experiment, over 400 people contributed to a crowd-sourced script that resulted in what Verhoeven describes as “my 14½, like Fellini’s 8½.” It’s a darkly comic family farce in which a Dutch husband and father’s fiftieth birthday celebration is dampened when his ex-flame shows up pregnant with his baby. Meanwhile, he’s got a pervy son, alcoholic daughter, and two business partners planning to push him out of his company to contend with. The exquisite corpse–style writing process results in an hour jam-packed with plot twists, all held together by Verhoeven’s tongue-in-cheek, un-self-serious approach.
Sunday, November 20, 2:00pm
Tuesday, November 22, 5:00pm

Turkish Delight / Turks fruit
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1973, 35mm, 108m
English and Dutch with English subtitles
Named the Best Dutch Film of the Century by the Netherlands Film Festival, Verhoeven’s hugely successful, Academy Award–nominated sophomore feature opens with a giallo-style jolt, develops into a kinky, blackly comic sexploitation romp, and finally blossoms into an alternately sweet and perverse romance. In the first of his many collaborations with Verhoeven, Rutger Hauer stars as a temperamental sculptor who hitches a ride with a free-spirited young woman (Monique van de Ven). In short order they hook up on the side of the road, get married, and settle into a life of round-the-clock lovemaking in his art-strewn studio—but, alas, nothing lasts forever.
Sunday, November 13, 2:00pm
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30pm (Q&A with Paul Verhoeven)


Starship Troopers


Shorts Program (TRT: 112m)

Each made by Verhoeven before his first feature, these five short films center around youth and school life, and provide a glimpse into the director’s early fascinations with female dominance, technology, and war.
Saturday, November 19, 4:30pm
Sunday, November 20, 6:00pm

A Lizard Too Much / EĂŠn Hagedis te veel
Paul Verhoeven, 1960, Netherlands, 32m
Dutch with English subtitles
In Verhoeven’s first film, an artist’s wife has an affair with one of her students, who has a mistress of his own.

Nothing Special / Niets Bijzonders
Paul Verhoeven, 1961, Netherlands, 9m
Dutch with English subtitles
This improvised short involves a man sitting in a bar, considering his relationship with his girlfriend as he watches a different woman nearby.

Let’s Have a Party / Feest!
Paul Verhoeven, 1963, Netherlands, 28m
Dutch with English subtitles
A shy student falls in love with a girl from another class. After he works up the courage to ask her to the school dance, something unexpected happens.

The Royal Dutch Marine Corps / Het Korps Mariniers
Paul Verhoeven, 1965, Netherlands, 23m
Dutch with English subtitles
Made while Verhoeven was in the military, this propaganda film follows various exercises carried out by the Royal Dutch Marine Corps.

The Wrestler / De Worstelaar
Paul Verhoeven, 1971, Netherlands, 20m
Dutch with English subtitles
A concerned father follows his son and the boy’s lover—the wife of a wrestler—in an attempt to end the relationship before the wrestler finds out.