There’s something tragic about really poor filmmakers. On the one hand, it seems almost criminal that some people be afforded the budgets to put together a major motion picture, but on the other, you can’t help but admire the sincerity of their wanting to try. This heartrending Salieri complex of unqualified ambition kept in check by nominal talent renders the haplessness of a lot of the classically awful would-be auteurs (Ed Wood, Tommy Wiseau, half of Brian DePalma) seem downright endearing.
Not so with Dr. Uwe Boll.
The German writer/director best known for his critically panned video game adaptations (House of the Dead, BloodRayne, Postal, and the upcoming and soon-to-be critically panned Far Cry) refuses to let his films go down without a fight. A vocal defender of both his films and his proficiency as a filmmaker, Boll has literally fought his most vehement critics in organized boxing matches. Carrying the marginally clever title “Raging Boll,” these bizarre pugilist spectacles speak to Boll’s character as a shameless self promoter. It’s also what makes him so awesome. After all, who can hate a guy that, no matter how untalented he’s accused of being, will actually go toe-to-toe with any who oppose him? Not to mention that he’s gone on record calling Michael Bay, the undisputed heavyweight champion of the bloated Hollywood budget, a “fucking retard.” Make no mistake: Uwe Boll is not afraid of you and he will beat your ass.
And unlike other would-be auteurs motivated by their own delusions of adequacy, Boll is in it for the money. Uwe Boll loves money. It’s exactly the sort of thing that separates him from other incompetents, who seem so caught up in the excitement of “let’s make a movie!” that you can’t really fault them when the whole thing falls apart.
But we can fault Boll. And people do. A lot of people. Poor scripts, wooden performances, incoherent editing and midget humour are just some the characteristics of a Boll feature. That and budgets big enough to ensure explosions as abundant as they are pointless, and even the appearance of what we can feasibly call “stars” (Christian Slater, Jason Statham and, uh, Dave Foley to name a few). As a filmmaker, he’s Alan Smithee on a Roland Emmerich budget. But as a savvy venture capitalist who secures the millions required for producing his slapsdash, adolescently violent pictures, Boll’s improbable ability to turn a profit means that his is a toothless, shit-eating grin that we can expect to see around for a while.
I e-mailed Dr. Boll some questions about his work, and he responded within hours (the e-mail carried the Tuetonically efficient subject heading “uwe”). English not being his mother tongue, a lot of his responses required some pretty substantive editing, but I’ve tried to preserve the—how do the Germans say?—geist of the whole thing.
What were you doing right before you began answering these questions?
I drove a friend from Canada to the Frankfurt Airport. [I’m working on the fairly conservative assumption that he drove a Canadian friend to the Frankfurt Airport, and not that he drove a friend from Canada to the Frankfurt Airport. Unless he means Frankfurt, Ontario, which I’m sure he doesn’t.-Ed.]
Considering your doctorate in literature, how did you become involved in feature filmmaking?
I loved movies since I was a child and I studied literature only because I didn’t got a place in filmschool.
If you had to name your three favorite films or filmmakers of all time, what would they be?
Apocalypse now, Clockwerk Orange [sic.], Citizen Kane. [The Jesus, Einstein and Charles Barkley of Western Cinema. –Ed.]
You are predominantly known for your film adaptations of video games. What motivates this interest?
Money. House of the Dead made money so I tried to keep going with videogame based movies.
Considering video games (and especially many of the ones you have adapted) are more known for their graphic violence than narrative depth and character development, why are you so interested in adapting them to into films?
Money. In the filmmarket you need something with a hook what you can get financed or sold and if you have to raise your own financing – what you want to do? Dreaming? Or actually get something made?
I read that you were tricked into thinking you had a chance at directing a Metal Gear Solid film, a rumor which Hideo Kojima put to rest. Can you tell me a bit about what happened?
Two French writers approached me with the script and I liked it and I like the game – but it turned out they never asked Hideo for approval.
I also read that you expressed a desire to direct the World of Warcraft film. What would your adaptation look like? How would you go about adapting a multiplayer online game into a film?
It should be a big epic, harder Lord of the Rings – with sideplots etc.! But with my IN THE NAME OF THE KING, I almost did that….
Would you ever consider directing a movie based on a non-violent video game, like Dr. Mario or something? What about your Guitar Hero game? How do you plan to adapt that? Are you going to get rights to the music? Can we expect to see cameos by Brett Michaels of Poison?
For movies I like only violent games.
Something I like about you is how you never shy away from critics of your work. How do you respond to the video game fan communities and film critics that don’t like your work? Are they just total nerds?
It depends. I have nothing against solid reviews even if they are negative [sic.]. I hate only personal bashing without substanz [sic.].
Postal was generally considered a failure, critically and commercially, but there seems to be so me element of South Park-style social commentary in the film. What were you trying to do with Postal? How would you defend the film against its critics?
POSTAL is the best satire and most ridiculous live action comedy of the last 10 years. I love POSTAL and I think everything in POSTAL works – the characters, the story …everything.
Son of MadTV viral video fallout Boll used to hype Postal.
In Postal, moreso with your other video game adaptations, you relied on comedic elements. Do you consider yourself a comedic filmmaker? What about the world of Postal struck you as funny?
A game where you can use cats as silencers is funny.
Do you think comedy can serve as social commentary? How?
Absolutely. I think in a comedy you can criticize way harder as in a serious movie. See: the “Monthy Python” [sic.] movies
You are currently working a film about the Darfur conflict with Edward Furlong, something which seems to demand seriousness, especially in regard to the level of violence. How are you approaching this project artistically?
We used real Sudanese refugees playing theirselfs [sic.] – speaking Arabic. we shot the movie very documentary style. very harsh and real. I think the movies will be great because it confronts western people with Africans in a realistic way and it shows that the genocide we show happens now and that its our fault. we have no excuse that we just overlook that every single day in Sudan babies getting hacked in pieces and 10 years old girls getting raped and impaled…
You’re also very well known for your outspoken response to your critics. Why do you feel the need to speak up for your films instead of letting them speak for themselves? Do you think more filmmakers should be proactive in this regard?
I don’t care – if I don’t like something I say it. And the movies still speak for themselfs [sic.]
Explain to me how the Raging Boll boxing matches came about. How have these turned out? What do you have to say about the fact that you kick so much ass in the ring?
I won all 5 fights because I took it serious and trained. And I boxed before. It was my revenge against a bunch of really unfair bashers.
You’ve also expressed an interest in wanting to fight Quentin Tarantino, Michael Bay and Roger Avary. Why? Do you think you could kick their asses too?
This was to generate press for POSTAL and it worked. And YES I would knock this guys out also.
I’m like six feet tall, Canadian and 210lbs. And one time in high school I got in a fight on the beach. Do you think you could kick my ass?
I have now also almost 200lbs – and I guess I would finally beat you …but why we should do that?
Toronto-based journalist Chris Alexander has called you a “two-fisted rogue.” What do you make of this comment? How do you see yourself as a filmmaker?
He made a good point.
You’ve also expressed interest in starting a Pro-Uwe Boll petition. I support this. Do you want me to start one? What would you do if we got one million signatures?
There are at least already 5 different ones online with over 50.000 pro-Boll signatures.
To sign the anti-Uwe Boll petition, click here.
To sign a pro-Uwe Boll petition, click here.