Monday, December 10, 2018
Introduction by and post-screening discussion with the hosts of Chapo Trap House
The acclaimed, provocative, and hilarious podcast Chapo Trap House (authors of the New York Times best-selling The Chapo Guide to Revolution) will join us for a special presentation of a film they have selected: Paul Verhoeven’s thrilling and subversive sci-fi spectacle Starship Troopers. After the screening, Chapo’s hosts will participate in an extended onstage discussion, with a book signing to follow.
The Hollywood films of Dutch director Paul Verhoeven have been foundational to the comedic and political sensibilities of our podcast. From the gore drenched sci-fi satire of Robocop and Total Recall to the trashy sex satire of Basic Instinct and Showgirls, Verhoeven’s self-consciously obscene and absurd visions of American culture have been consistently ahead of their time by about twenty to thirty years. What happens, though, when the reality we’re currently living in has finally caught up to the grotesque visions of Verhoeven’s films?
Perhaps nowhere does this uncannily prophetic phenomenon find a more pure or hilarious expression than in his adaption of Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. By presenting an essentially fascist narrative of humanity’s war on a race of giant bugs as straight-up and true to Heinlein’s material as possible, Verhoeven creates a dual context in which the heroes of his film all believe in its insane militaristic politics but the movie itself deftly underscores the suicidal death drive and cheapness of human life endemic to the fascist state. Verhoeven, who himself grew up under the Nazi occupation of Holland, creates something like “Triumph of the Will meets Saved by the Bell” and demonstrates the heights of what irony can achieve in cinema. Starship Troopers is a satirical masterpiece that we should all return to again as our own deeply moribund democracy slouches towards an uncertain future.–Chapo Trap House
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1997, 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 thrilling science fiction spectacle alongside a devastating takedown of jingoistic militarism.