Uwe Boll: He Doesn’t Exist!
The general film viewing public can probably only identify a handful of directors by name; Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, James “I’m the king of the world” Cameron and maybe Peter Jackson. These Director’s faces are as recognizable as their names, they have stepped into the limelight (usually along with the rest of their body) due to their award winning works and, as a rule, are respected by industry buffs and general film going audiences alike. On the other end of the spectrum are those directors who’s work is rated so poorly by film critics and movie fans that they too have become household names… If that household happens to be the dwelling of a film geek that is.
Amongst these maligned directors are names like Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil, Mortal Combat), Rob Cohen (Triple X, The Fast and the Furious) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Alien: Resurrection). However none of these directors are afforded more scorn or derision than a man named Uwe Boll.
Who is Uwe Boll? Uwe Boll was supposedly born in Wermelskirchen, Germany in 1965. It is said that he studied film direction in Munich and Vienna and that he apparently earned a doctorate in literature from the University of Cologne in 1995. More recently his company BOLL KG, which markets itself with the slogan “World Market Leader in Video Game Adaptations”, has produced the films ‘House of the Dead’, ‘Alone in the Dark’ and ‘BloodRayne’ – All of which are considered utter shit by the vast majority of people who’ve seen them.
Now, you may be asking yourself why, when presenting elements of Boll’s history, the phrasing of the previous paragraph has something of a skeptical tone to it. I’ll answer that question shortly, but before I do I’d like to talk about another director for a moment. A director by the name of Alan Smithee.
Alan Smithee (aka: Allen Smithee, Alan Smythee, or Adam Smithee) is the creation of the Directors Guild of America and the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The pseudonym was used in place of a writer or director’s name when requested. Credits were only removed from a project when it was felt that creative control had been usurped or undermined. The first Smithee credit was granted in 1969 for the movie ‘Death of a Gunfighter’, after the film’s star, Richard Widmark, took issue with the work of the director Robert Totten. Totten was replaced by Don Siegel, however upon the film’s completion neither director wished to be credited for the work and so the Directors Guild decided that the name Alan Smithee would be used.
Since that time Smithee has been credited on many movies, tv shows or (rarely) comic books. While the Directors Guild of America stopped using the name around 1997, due in part to the pseudonym and it’s role becoming public knowledge, the Smithee name still appears on various projects (for various reasons) from time to time.
Okay, so back to Uwe Boll: Todd Brown over at twitchfilm.net wrote ‘An Open Letter To Uwe Boll’, in which he addressed Boll’s childish challenge to critics, referring to it as ‘one of the finest PR stunts of recent times’. Brown’s comment got me thinking, “Could Uwe Boll be the ‘video game/movie adaptation’ version of Alan Smithee?”. Look at it this way, if you were going to create an alias to do the Smithee job nowadays you’d have to do much more than create a name. You’d have to create a back story, a persona, a back catalogue. Hell, you’d even have to go so far as to hire some lug headed guy with an accent to pretend to be said Smithee for the sake of ‘proving’ that he exists.
How else can the fact that investors keep giving this proven failure larger and larger amounts to produce one steaming pile after the next be explained? Sure, there’s some fishy story about German tax laws that reward investments in film, but honestly, who’s actually buying that one?
I don’t know about you, but for me the idea that there isn’t really a Uwe Boll in this world but that, instead the credit is given when real directors/producers/writers are dissatisfied with the end product certainly makes me feel a lot better about the movie industry. Farmore so than the idea that people keep giving this guy money to make movies while there are so many talented, creative, desperate writers and directors out there pleading for funding.
Still unconvinced? One of the upcoming movies from Boll is the adaptation of the video game Postal. In the actual game a multiplayer level titled ‘TimberYard’ is credited to Alan Smithee… Coincidence? Probably, but a boy can dream can’t he?