LOS ANGELES - DECEMBER 1985:  Director Paul Verhoeven poses for a portrait in December 1985 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
25 Years Ago, Starship Troopers Solidified Paul Verhoeven's Status as a Cinematic Satirist
“Starship Troopers” is loaded with poignant sociopolitical commentary, but its premise wasn't understood at the time of its release. Although his earlier films “RoboCop” and “Total Recall” flirted with deeper meaning, director Paul Verhoeven’s films were not seen as satirical, and it wasn’t until “Starship Troopers” that his reputation as a satirist was cemented.
“Starship Troopers” is an adaption of the 1959 book by Robert A. Heinlein, and while the book has fascist undertones, the movie highlights these themes to a ridiculous, self-mocking degree. From the Nazi flag and insignias to the blond-haired-blue-eyed actors and the opening propaganda reel, Verhoeven creates an exaggerated fascist utopia.
The hyper-stylized fascist society from “Starship Troopers” is not a future the movie advocates. From its violence to its soapy teen drama, the utopia depicted is excessive to the point of eeriness and even horror, like the advertisement depicting children gleefully stomping on bugs, with the message “Kill first, ask questions later.”
The United Citizen Federation soldiers are giddy about war and slaughtering an enemy they hate, but they can’t remember why they hate them. Verhoeven centers on these characters because he “...wanted the audience to be asking, ‘Are these people crazy?’” and while the film was misunderstood at the time, it has solidified Verhoeven’s reputation as a satirist.