verhoeven_hiddenforce

Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Total Recall) has been off the grid for about four years now, with his last film, the widely acclaimed Dutch war drama/thriller Black Book, marking his only return to the director’s chair since he departed the Hollywood scene a decade ago (after the release of Hollow Man).

Good news for Verhoeven fans: He’s back at it again, and his next film sounds like a trip.

He announced the project on the Dutch television show Zomergasten (“Summer Guests“). The scenario for the film comes from Verhoeven’s frequent Dutch writing collaborator Gerard Soeteman (who last worked with him on Black Book), but its basis is the Louis Couperus-written Dutch novel De stille kracht, or as its known in English: The Hidden Force. It has also been referred to as The Silent Force or The Silent Power.

I’ve included a summary of the book below, but why synopsize when Verhoeven already sells it so well, and so succinctly?

Here’s what he had to say (roughly translated):

“[The movie is about] rebellion against colonial rule, the emergence of fundamentalist Islam, the behavior between people, adultery and psychic powers. It is a story about things that we do not understand but it does happen.”

Verhoeven has wanted to make the film since the ’70s, but he’s never been able to due to its high budget. If he has his way though, it will be the next movie he tackles. (And no, it won’t be in English. It’s a Dutch production all the way.)

Even if they haven’t all been winners, Verhoeven has always brought such a distinctive, unrestrained weirdness to his films, and this adaptation seems to play perfectly to that sensibility. Add to that, Verhoeven’s ability to prey on varying cultural mindsets while still maintaining a considerable degree of entertainment value is almost unrivaled. I had never heard of Louis Couperus before today, but already I’m eagerly anticipating Verhoeven’s take on his work.

Here’s the summary of the book:

A novel written in 1900 and set in the Dutch East Indies. It concerns a colonial official who is undone by his wilful application of reason to a culture that is steeped in the mystical and irrational.

In The Hidden Force the decline and fall of the Dutch resident Van Oudyck is caused by his inability to see further than his own Western rationalism. He is blind and deaf to the slumbering powers of the East Indian people and countryside. The black magic, bird calls, vegetation, heat and the mysterious, hostile attitude of their Javanese subjects prove stronger than the cool power of the colonials.

Thanks to pepperCHOPjohn for the tip.

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