Boasting a fantastic mix of CG and traditional effects, Paul Verhoeven’s wildly subversive Starship Troopers closes out our animated midnight series. Friday, August 24 and Saturday, August 25. Would you like to know more?
The futuristic society depicted in Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is one utterly saturated with heavy handed propaganda.
While the most of the movie concentrates on the interstellar war waging between Bugs and Humans, Verhoeven drops hints about what life is like in the Federation by peppering the movie with state produced news reels, whose tone deaf cheer reveal a terrifying world of conditional citizenship, 24 hour justice systems, and insane military fetishism. Verhoeven and the film’s writer, Edward Neumeier, culled much of this information directly from Robert Heinlein’s original novel, but they do so with such a seething sneer that makes the kind of fascist militaristic society that Heinlein daydreamed over look utterly ridiculous.
Heinlein imagined a society that sacrificed freedom for order, and Verhoeven, who came of age in the Netherlands during World War II, draws a parallel between Heinlein’s Federation to the breed of fascism that crippled Europe during the war. Rather than re-work the material into something more palatable, Verhoeven cleverly presents the story of an up-and-coming soldier making waves in an interstellar war as a straight adventure film, all while applying twists, like horrifying graphic violence and a heavy dose of camp, that turn the gung-ho action-adventure into a stunning spoof on war and the powers that drive men to conflict.
For many, the propaganda sequences that pepper the film are the best part. Neumeier and Verhoeven modeled the scenes after the type of information that was being put out during the height of World War II–by the Nazi’s, the Italians, the Soviets, and (probably most of all) by the United States.
Below we’ve cobbled together a few the pieces of propaganda that inspired Verhoeven, including a piece from Frank Capra’s Why We Fight, which Starship Troopers pantomimes heavily. The clip basically amounts to a propaganda film admonishing states for using propaganda.
Why We Fight – Propaganda
“Education for Death” produced by Disney