Verhoeven's fundamentalist Islam and psychic powers film
Wow. Paul Verhoeven is never one to shy away from controversy, and the idea that he might be directing a film that involves fundamentalist Islam and psychic powers is both exciting and incredibly scary.
Verhoeven has delivered some great films, RoboCop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers, and the big surprise, the very strong Black Book, so could an adaptation of The Hidden Force by the Dutch novelist Louis Couperus work?
A novel written in 1900 and set in the Dutch East Indies. It concerns a colonial official who is undone by his wilful application of reason to a culture that is steeped in the mystical and irrational. This edition contains an introduction and notes.
With some readers comments revealing:
”...This book is about a family in the East. It's about the difference between east and west, about the hidden powers of the people surpressed by the Dutch colonial government. It's also about passions and secret relationships. And on top of that it's even a thrilling story. Dutch TV made an adaption a few years ago which was very inspiring.
...an exploration of sexuality, colonialism, race and power in colonial Indonesia.”
Reading a little more about it from the comprehensive review at Complete Review, gives us:
The Hidden Force is a story about the futility and cost of colonialism. Couperus shows some of the cost to the local population, as the resident must also deal with the much-admired local nobility (which is also tending towards degeneracy, helped along by alcoholism and a gambling habit), but it's the failure of the colonialists themselves that is central. They suffer, they are bored, and while they can get together for a good cause the larger picture is one of growing decay (moral and otherwise).
Now that review is perhaps the most telling for me, because there's not much mention of fundamentalist Islam in there, in fact none. However there are references to the superstitions and beliefs of the local people. Perhaps that's what Paul Verhoeven is talking about when he brings up Islam, or perhaps he's going for the controversy which is so obvious when you're mixing together the comments he made through Zombergasten, /Film and JoBlo:
”[The movie is about] rebellion against colonial rule, the emergence of fundamentalist Islam, the behavior between people, adultery and psychic powers. It is a story about things that we do not understand but it does happen.”
I think what he's perhaps talking about is that the film will show how some of the anti-western feelings have grown out of this colonisation, not fully on fundamentalist Islam, but examining the effects of the Dutch colonialism on both sides. The psychic powers part must surely refer to the mysticism, religious and superstitious beliefs of the people which are touched upon in the book, but never made a driving force.
It does sound perfect for Verhoeven if you consider his Black Book (Zwartboek) work, especially once you get past the shock value description and read a little more about the original book.