An Interview with Uwe Boll
Universally attacked German director, writer, and producer Uwe Boll has received a lot of critical attention since he started making films. He is perhaps best known for his poorly received video game adaptations, but he has also made a number of films that deal with sociological and political issues. Although these films are also unfavourably reviewed, the reason is less to do with poor representation of source material and more to do with the way in which he displays violence and arguably insensitivity with regard to incredibly sensitive matters. Now he offers Opiniondb his defence.
Boll is incredibly quick to defend his own work, when asked about the content of his films he says. “As you know from my background I don’t really have a problem with showing violence, all I do is show what happens, even if that is impaling kids.” It is this flagrant disregard to adhere to any ‘normal’ sense of censorship within his movies that has helped to earn him the title of ‘worst director ever.’ He is also unashamedly fast to bash those who have bashed him, or those who are more successful. Famously in 2006 he challenged all of the critics who had negatively reviewed him to a boxing match, the invitation was also allegedly extended to Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery. Regarding the lack of success his films have had compared to those of filmmakers who get nominated for Academy Awards Boll says. “As soon as Brad Pitt or George Clooney are in a movie then the film gets hyped up and gets nominated for Oscars.” Uwe while very friendly to me at least, cannot seem to conceal his anger and frustration that his films are not as successful as those of, for example, Terrance Mallick or Sophia Coppola. He argues that such films “have no substance so it is not important because it has no subject matter for people to give a fuck about and it’s not fair because they aren’t really important.” While obviously very bitter, Boll has an interesting point. Do his films have subject matter that people care about, and if so then why is he not getting the attention that he deserves? He seems to be contemplating the same question when he burst out. “I’m a little bit pissed that the people don’t step up and say shut the fuck up.”
Uwe Boll’s video game adaptations are certainly not thought provoking and Uwe reluctantly admits this. “I know that my video game movies are not the best movies that were ever made, but they are also not the worst movies ever made.” Again Boll is quick to defend his films by saying: “Other directors make one good movie in their whole life and then ten other movies. Well I’ve made 30 movies and I know that 5 or 6 of those movies are really good.” One must assume that the films he is referring to are not his adaptations of computer games since they barely relate to the source material, and under his own admittance, are not very good. Boll has, however, made several films that directly challenge problems that are happening or have happened in the world. Its understanding then why he gets aggravated by critics comparing other films to his. Boll says that, “It’s kind of annoying to read a review about who made another shitty movie, a lot of times it’s like this movie is the same shit like Uwe Boll’s movie.” However upon watching some of his films you realise that they are not all ‘the same old shit’. Darfur (Boll: 2009) and Stoic (Boll: 2009) are both about very real problems, and while these films are still extremely violent they do reflect the severity of the issues that are being explored. Boll comments on these films, saying that he “puts a mirror in front of us, to say look if we talk about something that should never happen again, like why Darfur happened for example then did we really learn from the past?” The film shows Boll’s points of view strongly as not only are viewers witness to the massacre of the villages in the Sudan, but western journalists are also added to the fray. After asking whether he thought this film was important, Boll rather proudly states: “My Darfur movie was definitely very powerful and more powerful than a lot of films that I saw nominated for an Oscar this year like Moneyball (Miller: 2011) or whatever. Maybe The Descendants (Payne: 2011)”.
Boll describes his film Stoic as being “about a prison situation in Germany a few years ago where 3 guys torture and rape a guy for 24 hours and then hang him.” Boll’s casual manner with which he explains the brutal premise of his film is initially disconcerting but his somewhat farfetched statement that, “they are in a way like Taxi Driver (Scorsese: 1976) but more radical but also a lot of times the violence digs deep into what is going on in the film” is, for some reason, comforting. Not only does he adequately justify the violence in the film but his allusion to the similarities between his films and Martin Scorsese’s nudges the notion that the extreme occurrences shown on screen are, sometimes, appropriate.
Boll’s finest film is perhaps Auschwitz (Boll: 2010). This is not because it is entertaining and it’s certainly not because of a compelling narrative (for it has none). The reason that this film should be considered Uwe Boll’s masterpiece is because it raises one of the most important questions about filmic representation of the Holocaust. Auschwitz is in part a documentary, where German students are quizzed about their knowledge of the Holocaust, but the film also incorporates a dramatisation of a working day in the Nazi death camps. Boll says that “the whole approach was to show the normalness of it, about how they are just doing their daily routine.” This part of the film is unapologetically stark. Viewers are witness to extended shots of prisoners dying in the gas chambers and of babies being shot in the head. Before the film was released, critics banded together to boycott the film but this might not have been an appropriate move. Boll commented that “people who actually watched the movie later corrected their criticism,” he also give an example: “Blockbuster said before they had even seen the film they would not sell the movie but then he watched it and said ‘oh no the movie is good, we have no problem with it.’” The film is extremely hard to watch but to Boll’s credit he does what very few filmmakers have the nerve to do and tries to represent the Holocaust exactly as it was. In defence of his portrayal of the Holocaust, he references Schindler’s List (Spielberg: 1993).
“All the people that have seen my Auschwitz movie are not even 1% of the Schindler’s list crowd, but people actually think that Oscar Schindler was super important for people to survive the Holocaust. But you don’t realise that he rescued a few thousand from nearly 6 million.”
It’s hard not to feel for Boll here because he is correct. His film is a far more accurate depiction of the death camps than most Hollywood films regarding the Holocaust, but due to his relative obscurity and the fact that there are people who will not watch a film because Uwe Boll is the director, people will not see this representation.
Perhaps Mr Boll has turned a corner in his career, gone are the days of shoddy, barely recognisable videogame adaptations, and here to stay are the thought provoking if incredibly extreme social and political commentaries. This certainly seems the case as when queried about his current project the title spoke for itself. Age of Greed: The Bailout is set to be released in the autumn of this year and is about a “regular guy” who loses all of his money to investment bankers in New York. After losing his money he loses everything else, his job, his house, his family, and ultimately his mind. Of the project Boll said: “I wanted to make an angry movie he is like killing the investment bankers, he is not just killing the guys that screwed him over, he goes for everybody.” He elaborates that “if an investment banker sees the movie they will be like ‘oops, maybe somebody will go after us. Not the police, just somebody that we screwed over and he will blow our brains out.’” Hold the applause though because while it looks that Boll’s adaptation days are over, there looks like there might be another BloodRayne (Boll: 2005) film in the works. Will you never learn Uwe? Words by Daniel Buckley