THE WORST DIRECTOR IN THE WORLD
Uwe Boll makes the worst movies since Edward D. Wood. No other director faces the same vilification, or, for that matter, the same death threats. Still, Uwe Boll has managed to create a multi-million dollar corporation and can count himself as one of the few German directors who have made it in Hollywood. Besides turning video games into movies, he's also into stuff like Darfur, Auschwitz, and the Siegburg prison killings. He enjoys reading Thomas Bernhard, and doesn't shy away from promoting his films by means of physical violence. In the legendary Uwe Boll vs. His Critics boxing match, he kicked a staggering amount of ass (he's been boxing for years). We had a little chat with him to find out what it feels like to regularly be referred to as the world's worst director, and why he just won't stop, even after countless people have begged him and critics have torn his movies to shreds like hyenas.
Vice: You're producing tons of movies every year, while other directors and producers sit around like a bunch of jerks and don't accomplish anything. What's your secret?
Uwe Boll: I have no idea. Well, let me put it this way--in the early days I could produce stuff pretty cheaply through film funds, and by the time they were outlawed in 2005 I had created enough of an international standing for myself that when I make a movie now I know it'll be shown in 80 countries. That's an advantage I have over most German directors who can't film anything without federal funding or a TV channel that will buy it.
But at the same time you seem to have massive problems in Germany, especially with the federal censorship organization FSK …
They show my movies unabridged everywhere else. But in Germany you're automatically going to get indexed when you make a movie like Stoic about the Siegburg prison killings, or like Rampage about a homicidal maniac. I mean, where the hell are we?
Why do you think that your films in particular that get indexed?
With Rampage it was pretty much due to the topic, because the main character, who wiped out half a village, got away with it. Actually though, the whole film was about money. I thought of it as more of an analogy for the credit crunch. The biggest asshole gets away with the most money—and well, the FSK didn't like that at all. They made us add to the final credits that the police actually caught the guy.
So they basically forced a happy ending on it?
Yeah, that's definitely cultural censorship right there. If they told us to remove porn or violence, OK, but we had more of that stuff in Tunnelratten or Darfur. At least we got those approved for audiences older than 18. The FSK considered their message to be "anti-war" enough. But you know, a cynical outlook according to people like Thomas Bernhard, Nietzsche or Schopenhauer, now that's something you can't spread in Germany. Why do I show kids being impaled in Darfur? Because that's what's happening there right now! The biggest crime in half a decade has been taking place in Sudan for seven years now. After Ruanda everybody was like, "We can't let this happen ever again," but now it's happening again and we're not doing anything about it.
And they're portraying the war with Afghanistan like something with a moral component to it. So, if we're waging wars for moral reasons, then we should ask ourselves why nothing is being done when 300,000 to 400,000 people are slaughtered in Sudan—and by slaughtered I don't mean shot, but gang-raped and chopped to pieces—and another two million are vegetating in refugee camps.
Bloodrayne. A video game film featuring Dhampires (yes, this word exists and describes a human and vampire bastard—the internet doesn't lie). Alice Cooper provided the soundtrack, and the cast included Oscar winner Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Udo Kier, and the chick from Terminator 3.
There were Sudanese people involved in your shooting who had experienced all of this first hand. How did they handle it?
Yes, we do have a woman who's raped in the movie who was also raped in real life. That's incredibly upsetting, but I was surprised by how well she coped.
Doesn't that re-open an old wound?
I think for some Sudanese people it was like a flashback. In the beginning they said they wanted to do this, but then they realized how much of an issue it really was for them. It wasn't easy, but they all wanted to keep going and I think they did an amazing job.
How did they respond to the final cut?
We did this screening in South Africa and they liked it a lot. The movie was exactly how they expected it to be. Of course we're the movie's focal point because I can't pretend to know what's really going on there. That's why our journalists' tendency to ignore the truth is in the spotlight. You should get mad when you watch this. You should ask yourself what this bullshit is all about, why there's blue berets running around who can't shoot.
OK, but I'm still confused about where this massive hatred toward your movies comes from …
I think there are two reasons. On one hand we're talking about movies made from video games, and of course that brings on a whole lot of geeks and gamers who have a lot of prejudices and hate anything like that. On IMDb the comments and votes are terrible before my movies even come out. The other group of haters are the jealous ones. They're the ones who made sure I wouldn't get funding for German movies and hoped I'd disappear into oblivion. In Germany you're screwed without funding or TV partners. When they realized, "Holy shit, now he's filming international productions for millions of dollars with Hollywood stars," that's when the jealousy set in.
From left to right:Darfur, Postal and Rampage.
You mentioned Thomas Bernhard earlier in this conversation. Do you get Bernhard-esque thoughts when it comes to the stupid masses?
When I studied literature I really got into Bernhard and I still find his stuff entertaining. He knew what resistance was all about and he knew what pressure was. He's certainly someone you can look up to as a person. My outlook on the world is a pretty cynical one too when it comes to the future of mankind. I grew up watching movies like Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now, and that stuff is a part of my personality now. My movies are cynical and don't come with happy endings. Unfortunately, you can't get very far with films like that in Germany.
Doesn't that turn you into a misanthrope?
That's a bit harsh, but it's definitely closer to the truth than claiming I'm a philanthropist. But that doesn't mean I'm an asshole or a dick in any way.
You invited your critics to join you in the boxing ring and then you beat the shit out of them in front of the media. Did that feel awesome?
Yes, as a matter of fact it did, but it was also a way to promote Postal. It was great getting those critics out from behind their desks. You know, watching a movie and writing a terrible critique is much easier than starting a multi-million dollar corporation. When people attack me on a personal level and write bullshit about me on Wikipedia, challenging them to a boxing match is a great opportunity to say, "Brace yourself for a concussion, people."
OK. One more thing. I've had this idea for ages--what do you think about turning Tetris into a movie with Keanu Reeves as the lead, super slow motion, and lots of special effects. Do you think we could make this happen?
I think there's a script for that already. It's one hundred pages. This girl, Julia Sandberg, who also made the Troma films, she sent it to me once and I was like, "You people are sick." I'd rather do Asteroid. That's the only game I've ever been addicted to. I've played it for weeks at a time on my Commodore. That's a great, crappy old game.
INTERVIEW BY FELIX NICKLAS
PORTRAIT COURTESY OF UWE BOLL
Rampage and Darfur are currently touring. Max Schmeling will be released this fall.
- Vice Blog