A lot has been said about the movies made by the German director Uwe Boll. But in spite of much opposition he has been at his post since 1991, writing, producing and doing what he loves. Historyradio.org asked him a few questions about the types of films he has made, and why he made them. Some of the movies relate to various historical periods, while others seem to be mere entertainment.
Historyradio.org: Tell us a little about your background and how you came to be a film director?
Uwe Boll: Since I was 10 years old I wanted to be a film director. I started with super 8mm and BETA Video and short films and documentaries when I was in my teenage years. German Fried Movie was the first real movie I could do 1991 with a budget of 50.000$ on 35mm and it started my career.
Historyradio.org: You have a PhD. in literature, what was the subject of your thesis? Have you used any of this knowledge in the movie making business?
Uwe Boll: I wrote about the development of storytelling in novels and series, and went deep into the history of that form. Directly using for my movies was not necessary but its always good to have a deep background in literature, film and TV history. Unfortunately a lot of young filmmakers have no idea….. their knowledge starts at Star Wars …or E.T.
Historyradio.org: You have based many of your films on video games. Why did you choose this particular approach?
Uwe Boll: I made House of the Dead in 2003 and it made very good money and so I could only raise money for video game based movies…that was the only reason I made so many of them.
Historyradio.org: What is the difference between adapting, let’s say, a novel, and adapting a video game?
Uwe Boll: A novel is normally pretty much clear about the story, emotions, storytelling etc. A game leaves a lot of that open. So you fill it in yourself and then the fans flip out on you because you CHANGED something. But in reality you filled the voids.
Historyradio.org: In your career you have worked with some very famous actors: Christian Slater, Jason Statham, Ray Liotta and others. What is your approach to directing, are you a hands off guy or do you micro-manage? Some of these actors would be very experienced?
Uwe Boll: Most of them had a lot of experience and I let them do their job. They should show me in the first run through how they approach the scene or their character, and then if necessary I correct something.
Historyradio.org: This is a blog about history. So I have to ask you about your World War II movie about the nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz (2011). Why did you make this film?
Uwe Boll: I felt that in times of fake news and after truth bullshit we need a real film showing what the holocaust actually was. Not the hero stories etc…just the killing. Because that was Auschwitz. 50% of the people who came with a train in were dead within 2 days. There is a lot of holocaust denial and I think those who watch my movie will get the reality stuck in their face.
Historyradio.org: You also made a film about the situation in Sudan called Darfur starring Billy Zane. There is an interesting dilemma presented in that movie: two journalists have to choose between reporting or helping victims. How and when did you get the idea to make this film?
Uwe Boll: I felt that after Rwanda where the West didn’t help that in Sudan we should stop the genocide, but as always nobody did anything. No NATO troops stopped the genocide. 450.000 women, children, old people got hacked into pieces ….and nothing happened …. A crime.
Historyradio.org: You made a film called Tunnel Rats (2008) about soldiers during the Vietnam War. Don’t you think it is strange that there is so much focus on the perspective of the American soldiers, and so little on the lives of the ordinary Vietnamese?
Uwe Boll:Yes, I tried to show both sides in my film and also showed why America really lost the war. You could bomb the tunnels, but they were structurally sound….and of course the Vietnamese were fighting for EVERYTHING and the Americans had no clue why that war actually happened.
Historyradio.org: You are no stranger to controversy. You have gained a reputation as a sort of cult director. What would say has been the hardest part of the movie making process?
Uwe Boll: Raising money and getting good distribution. To shoot the movies was always the fun part.
Uwe Boll movie posters