Uwe Boll is not a man to be swayed by other people’s opinions. Over the last few years, he’s made a hell of a lot of movies, and they tend to fall into one of two categories: either slightly daft videogame adaptations, or furious, fiercely political films that rail against everything he sees as being wrong with the world we live in. He’s uncompromising, and endlessly confrontational… but he’s also got a wicked sense of humour.
His follow up to 2007’s In The Name Of The King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is coming out on DVD in the UK this month, so we took the opportunity to catch up with the maverick director to find out about the new movie, working with action stars like Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham, and the global financial crisis…
Tell us a bit about In The Name Of The King: Two Worlds.
Basically, after the big budget first part, the idea was to create something with a way smaller budget that brings new aspects to the franchise: telling a new story, and bringing in a monster - a dragon, basically – what was not existing in the first one. So the idea was to do a time travel story, especially with an actor like Dolph Lundgren, who is more contemporary – I would not believe him to be an medieval character – and I thought we can bring some freshness into that whole thing to have a contemporary guy going back into medieval times.
We can add a lot of humour, also; like, ‘where’s the toilet?’, you know? All this kind of stuff, how a normal guy from today’s time would really react in the old times, and adjust to a situation like this. And of course it’s a fantasy movie, so it’s not historically correct. We thought it’s maybe a good idea to move the second part in a direction like this.
The Dungeon Siege bit of the title is gone – is it not connected with that franchise any more?
No, it is In The Name of the King 2 and has nothing to do with the Dungeon Siege game at all any more. That’s the reason we dropped it completely out of the title. The game company changed in between too; Gas Powered Games sold the rights to Square Enix, so it’s a totally different set-up and we’re feeling better that we have nothing to do with the game.
It’s not really a sequel, then – it’s a similar setting, but it’s not a continuation of the story?
It’s loosely connected, story-wise, because it’s the same kingdom and we mention that [Granger] could be the son of Jason Statham[’s character]. He was catapulted into the future when the whole kingdom went down and that’s the reason they have to bring him back now, so it’s kind of an explanation that it’s in a way connected to the first one, very loosely – not connected to the game, but connected to our movie.
What’s Dolph Lundgren like to work with?
He, I think, is somebody who’s not a real actor, but just a star, you know? He has a very good physical presence, and when he’s doing a movie he’s always fun to watch, but he’s Dolph. A little like Jason Statham: Jason Statham is Jason Statham. Whatever he plays, he’s the same character in all his movies. And Dolph, I think, is similar. You could not hire him for a John Grisham attorney movie, where he plays that attorney and has long monologues! I think we adjusted to his acting and his character when we wrote it, so we don’t have too much dialogue, for example. He has more one-liners: he makes the other people talk and he gets the power punch line in the end.
But as a human, he is very intelligent: as an engineer, which is what his normal occupation was before the Rocky people picked him up from the gym… He is very intelligent, he speaks like five different languages, and a lot of times, in real life people are a little different from how they appear on screen. You know, he plays that kind of one-dimensional character a lot of times and then, in real life he’s very intellectual, and he knows a lot about everything. I talk with him a lot about politics and stuff like this. It was fun. I had no problem with him on set or anything, he’s a total team player and he enjoys being on set.
You’ve made an awful lot of films over the past few years. Can we talk about the Auschwitz movies?
Yeah - basically, after I did the Darfur movie about the genocide in Sudan, I felt like, with that whole genocide subject matter… I wanted to make a point with the Auschwitz movie: actually showing the genocide. The thing is, in times where people just deny the Holocaust, I felt it was time to actually show a normal day in a concentration camp. Because if you put all the other Holocaust movies together, a lot of times, you never saw the Holocaust, you never went with the camera into the gas chamber and stuff like that, and basically I did that in my movie. It’s a very radical approach and, I think, also necessary to have a movie or a document like this existing; I think it’s very important in the long run.
My parents were born in 1933, so they were, in the Second World War, alive, even if they were kids, but with the generation before them, if they die, then our generation has no direct experience with the Second World War. When I went to the German schools to check out what the schoo lkids actually know about the Holocaust right now, I think it went way down, the knowledge, from the times when I went to school. We really got it hammered in our heads, as Germans especially. But now the school kids in Germany, they don’t even know a lot about it any more. And that’s the scary part. If the German kids have no idea what Auschwitz was, how can we expect that people in India, Korea, Brazil, or wherever, know anything about it? And then it starts to be dangerous. If nobody knows about something, then nobody can judge anyone any more who just denies it.
At the same time as making Auschwitz, though, you made another two films with Nazis in them that were a lot less serious: BloodRayne 3 and Blubberella…
The Auschwitz film was only possible because I had the money to do BloodRayne 3. And it was all set in the Second World War, so I had the technical crew, the equipment, and the locations, and so I could do the Auschwitz movie for basically $200,000 on top, because I had all the stuff. Nobody would ever finance me the Auschwitz movie and I would never have got enough money together to do a movie like this.
That seems like a theme of your career: you do the movies that you care about, and then you do the videogame movies, which are maybe more for the money. Do you worry that the videogame movies devalue your serious movies, and make people take them less seriously?
I don’t have to be worried because it’s a fact! A lot of people just didn’t watch my serious movies with an objective eye. I have a bad reputation so based on the videogame movies I did, a lot of reviewers have me on their bad list forever, and they wrote so many articles about me as the worst filmmaker ever, so they have a problem with writing, “no, this movie’s actually good."
Some people did it, with Rampage and Darfur; they wrote “this is a decent movie no matter what he did before.” So some people jumped over their own shadow and started supporting me with those movies and writing positive things about those movies. Of course, I’m very happy about this, and I hope that more people join that club.
But now when I look up what is written about me every four weeks – I just check it – it’s still… whoever writes an article about a bad movie, or a bad videogame movie, needs to mention me, every article is like “Uwe Boll is even worse" or, “they are total videogame based movies, like the shitty Uwe Boll movies.” A lot of times I am mentioned in articles about other movies of that genre as the worst filmmaker, you know? This is a little bad because you think, did these guys completely ignore my other six movies I did in the last four or five years based on realistic things? How can they overlook all those movies? I did not do one, I did Stoic, I did Rampage, I did Darfur, I would say even Postal, though it’s videogame based…
Well, Postal’s kind of the crossover one, between the two different kinds of movies.
Yeah. I would say I’m an average moviegoer; I watch everything that comes out, good or bad, to just see what’s going on, and I think Postal is by far the best videogame based movie ever made. That’s the thing, because nobody would ever do a movie like that: it’s highly controversial, it’s fun, and it’s crazy, and I think it nails the political situation of our world in an offensive way. And to not get enough credit for it, it’s a joke. I know so many people, when I go to conventions or wherever, they come to me to sign the Postal DVD, and they say, ‘I just love that movie’. And how can Bridesmaids and The Hangover be such huge successes and then people would say Postal is shit? It’s bullshit. Postal is exactly the same humour as The Hangover.
We can discuss about this a long time but I think I didn’t maybe get all the credit I should have got for a few movies I did because people were kind of blocked by the negative overall experience with Alone In The Dark or BloodRayne or those kinds of movies.
It’s a kind of laziness, really, I guess. The accepted opinion is that you make bad films, and everyone has to have that opinion. You see that happen with a lot of movies…
I read the Mission: Impossible 4 reviews and I thought, “oh, this looks like a masterpiece!" And then I watched the movie and it was an over-the-top action movie with no logic at all. There was no feeling in it that sometimes you get with James Bond movies, where you feel like it could happen this way, it was completely over the top absurd! This guy can hack, with his stupid computer, into everything he wants, within five seconds he controls buildings! You know, it’s completely stupid. And it’s one action scene after another and you think, the whole time, “Okay, another one, and another one,” and… so he drives 120kmph with his car and rolls out and jumps out of the door, and has nothing, he just walks away, but he’s not Spider-man, he’s a normal human being! And nobody mentions it, they all wrote how great Mission: Impossible 4 is.
But that’s the thing, we live in this world where a lot of reviewers just pussy out and they all have the same opinion about something that, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, would have been trashed into the ground by the same critics. But now they don’t want to miss the next invitation to the trade shows.
A lot of your more serious movies are really angry, almost misanthropic; would you say you’re an angry person?
Absolutely! [laughs] I just finished shooting my bailout movie [The Age Of Greed: The Bailout] and, you know, you will see what anger means in that movie! This is what that fucking prick Oliver Stone did not deliver with Wall Street 2, but I deliver this now, an angry movie about the Wall Street bankers, like, bullet-in-the-head angry. And this is what they deserve, not bailouts and cutting their bonuses down a little for one year, and then they keep screwing up everybody again and then are back on track!
This is the movie that was really on my chest to do for two years now and I’m really happy that I finally can do it now, because I’m really angry about the whole political landscape around us. It’s amazing to see how all the governments are on the same page, like, “let’s close our eyes and hope for the best!" They’re so happy that countries like Greece exist; we think Greece is the problem, but we are bankrupt, not Greece! Greece was bankrupt 15 to 20 years ago but the bailout in 2008 ruined all of us forever!
We have to pay everything back over generations to come and the only way to solve the problem is inflation. You, at one point, have to admit the money should be worthless. What they do is print money. The money that went to Greece was new money printed by the EU, the money the US spent was new printed money, we’re living in a complete air balloon in a world we cannot afford to be in. It’s like if, whatever you make in a month, you just spend double or triple that per month and you hope that nobody ever comes to break your arm and say, “give me my fucking money back!” But that’s what the governments are doing.
So I think it was necessary to make a movie about this subject matter from the point of view of a guy who’s losing everything and then gets in a Taxi Driver mood, you know? He’s in a Falling Down meets Taxi Driver situation where he goes after the bankers. He’s not getting depressed and made homeless: no, he starts killing everybody. And this is my movie.
That’s the one you’re working on now?
I just came back from New York; we filmed in Vancouver and New York, because the movie plays in New York, and we are done, so now we edit. Dominic Purcell plays the main guy, and we have a good cast together: Edward Furlong, and people I’ve worked with before, like Eric Roberts and Michael Pare, and David Keith, a new one I’ve never worked with before, he was very good to work with, and John Hurt, who was amazing, who played the big banker. So I think we have a good cast together and I hope I can launch that movie in theatres again.
Finally, a lot of your films seem to be deliberately provocative. Is there anything you’d consider too controversial to make a movie about?
No! This is what I think art is about, you know? As a filmmaker you have to reflect what’s really going in the world, and I see it as a big asset I have: I want to make movies about what the big things are. I’m not reflecting a character living somewhere in Turkey, getting happy and reading books and doing yoga. I’m very interested in what the fuck is driving the whole planet, and what are the real big problems, and this is what I make the movies about.
I’m actually happy that, over the years, I didn’t get less energetic to attack these kind of things that maybe some people would not touch.
Uwe Boll, thank you very much.
In The Name Of The King: Two Worlds is out on DVD on 21 May.