Paul Verhoeven shorts: a unique opportunity to find out where it all began

The first films of Paul Verhoeven will be shown for the first time in Portugal, on April 30th, at 15h30, at Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema. Paul Verhoeven’s early work is brought together in this screening, with five shorts – all made before the Dutch filmmaker’s first feature film.

These films focus mainly on the Dutch youth of the time and were inspired by the school life of Verhoeven himself, but already show some of the recurring themes in his future work, such as man’s domination by woman and his fascination with machines and mechanisms of war.

Eén hagedis teveel, the first film by Verhoeven, was made when he was 22 years old and reveals some of his most important cinephile references: Hitchcock, Buñuel and Bergman, for example. It also shows a motif that will recur throughout his films: a man who is caught and dominated by women.

Niets bijzonders is a film about the nature of relationships between men and women. Niets bijzonders was improvised in the manner of Nouvelle Vague: inspired by a quote from William Faulkner “movies have a jazz atmosphere”.

Feest tells the story of a very shy high school student falling in love with a girl from another class, but who finds it difficult to get close to her. When he decides to make a move and invite her to the school dance, the result will not be as expected. Verhoeven shot this short film using amateur actors from the high school he attended as a child.

De worstelaar was made after he had gathered a few years of experience working in Dutch television. Andries has an affair with Nel, the wife of the fighter Leo. His father secretly follows him when he meets his lover. Fearing that her husband will find out, the father will try to convince his son to end the relationship. Andries tells his father that not only is he not afraid of Leo but he can beat him.

Het korps Mariniers was made while Verhoeven was doing his military service in the Navy. This is a military propaganda film about exercises, diving, abseiling, assault, etc., carried out by the Marine Corps. This contains the seed of Verhoeven’s allure for “war machines”, which will develop throughout his work.