A critical warning: Director Michael Verhoeven turns 85

The list of his film successes is long, as is the prizes he received for them: Director Michael Verhoeven has made a name for himself as a critical admonisher who does not shy away from difficult subjects and also fights against resistance.

A critical warning: Director Michael Verhoeven turns 85

The list of his film successes is long, as is the prizes he received for them: Director Michael Verhoeven has made a name for himself as a critical admonisher who does not shy away from difficult subjects and also fights against resistance. At his side privately for 60 years: the actress Senta Berger. Verhoeven wants to celebrate with her and their family on July 13: Then he will be 85.

This number has been on his mind for about a year, he told the German Press Agency shortly before his birthday. "Today I think how short 85 years are and how rich and full my life was and is." A life in which career and private life go hand in hand. During filming he met his life love Senta Berger, with her he founded a production company and the two sons Simon and Luca are also successful in the film industry.

He first studied medicine and worked as a doctor

"My career and my life are closely linked - and yet they describe two very different, incomparable paths. I'm happy that some of my work was successful and that it was even able to make a difference," Verhoeven said in retrospect.

Even though he comes from an acting family and took on his first small film roles as a child, Verhoeven, who was born in Berlin, first studied medicine and worked as a doctor.

However, the film industry did not let him go completely, and he was also in front of the camera during his studies. From the late 1960s, Verhoeven began to work more and more as a director. One of his first projects, his experimental anti-Vietnam War film "O.K." caused a scandal at the 1970 Berlinale because the American jury president George Stevens felt offended and the jury finally broke up without any prizes being awarded.

"The White Rose" makes him famous

One of Verhoeven's best-known films is "The White Rose" with leading actress Lena Stolze from 1982, which he was able to implement despite a lot of resistance. Lena Stolze, who also made Verhoeven the leading actress in the film "The Terrible Girl" (1990), was particularly praised by film critics. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1991.

The film "Die Courage (1982) dealt with the subject of conscientious objectors and the series "Land of Cockaigne (1990) with German-German history between autumn 1989 and autumn 1990. With "The Unknown Soldier" (2006) Verhoeven shot a documentary in Connection to two Wehrmacht exhibitions that had caused discussions in Germany up until the early 2000s.

A scandal-free marriage to Senta Berger

Senta Berger met Verhoeven in 1963 while filming "Jack and Jenny". The two have been married since 1966 and lead a scandal-free marriage. Professionally, they worked together again and again. She was the main actress in front of the camera in Verhoeven's TV series "The Fast Gerdi". This is "probably the first television series that focuses on a single taxi driver who maintains her independence and is a feminist without knowing it," said Verhoeven.

Together with his son Simon, Verhoeven produced the hit comedy "Welcome to the Hartmanns" (2016), which was about refugees in Germany. Senta Berger was also part of the party. When asked what he was particularly happy about in retrospect, Verhoeven said: "I'm happy about the Senta and the family that holds it together."

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