Verhoeven on The Surrogate.

Paul Verhoeven has been making the rounds the last few weeks, promoting his book Jesus of Nazareth. (It was a big hit in the Netherlands when it first came out a couple years ago, but it didn’t come out in the United States until earlier this month.)

The MTV Movies Blog has now posted several snippets from their interview with Verhoeven, and none of them are particularly newsy — certainly not their “exclusive” report that Verhoeven put Christ-figure imagery in his sci-fi classic RoboCop (1987), which is old news to anyone who has listened to the DVDs’ audio commentaries or read the summaries thereof.

But one of the clips did jump out at me, namely this one, in which Verhoeven discusses the status of an in-development thriller called The Surrogate. It has been nearly a year since it was first announced that Verhoeven would direct this film, based on a book by Christian novelist Kathryn Mackel. But this interview marks the first time I have seen Verhoeven himself discuss his take on the project, however briefly.

True to form, he says the film will be “kind of provocative and basically sexual”, and he then goes into his standard spiel about the lack of eroticism in current Hollywood movies. But while the MTV write-up that accompanies this video interprets these two statements as a sign that Verhoeven intends to push the envelope with this film just like he used to do in the ’90s, I am not convinced that this is, in fact, what Verhoeven was suggesting.

Rather, it seems to me that Verhoeven was trying to describe the film in a way that suited his aesthetic, but without giving too much away — and then the interviewer jumped in with a comment about Verhoeven’s reputation for salacious fare, which prompted Verhoeven to go off on one of his favorite tangents.

At any rate, this interview makes me just that much more curious to see what sort of film this will turn out to be in the end — assuming the filmmakers (one of whom, producer Ralph Winter, is one of the better-known Christians working in Hollywood) can find the $30 million in financing that Verhoeven says the project will require before the cameras can start rolling.

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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