Jun 17, 2011

Blond, Blue Eyes

When it comes to the cinematic ingredients that I consider most imperative when creating a great film, I have always found directors to be more consequential than actors. Even as a young child, I was cognizant of what a Tim Burton or Steven Spielberg looked like, although I didn’t exactly know what a film director was. Of course, there have always been certain actors that I have admired, but they are few and far between. One of my favorite actors is Dutchman Rutger Hauer; an actor probably best known for his performance as alpha-replicant leader Roy Batty in Ridley’s Scott Blade Runner (1982). Despite seeming like a distinctly evil robot killer for most of the film, by the end of Blade Runner one is ultimately surprised by Batty’s final display of noble empathy and forgiveness. For the final scene in Blade Runner, Hauer improvised his performance in the form of a visual poem instead of using the long and drawn out speech that was originally intended for the conclusion of the film, henceforth dreaming up what is arguably the most potent and memorable scene in the entire movie. If there is one thing that all of Hauer’s performances have in common, it is the eccentric and unconventionally complex nature of the characters he plays.  Like the fictional characters he has portrayed in nearly one hundred different films, Rutger Hauer is an enigma of sorts who finds no pleasure in having his personal life advertised to the entire world. In the documentary Blond, Blue Eyes (2006), Dutch filmmaker Simone de Vries followed Rutger Hauer around the world and interviewed the actor about his successful career as an international film star who – unlike most mainstream actors – refused to whore himself out to the glorified pimps that run Hollywood. During Blond, Blue Eyes, Rutger Hauer allows fans to enter a more personal and intimate side of his life, but as one can expect from a documentary about the somewhat secretive actor; the viewer shouldn’t anticipate something in the vain of an episode of MTV's Jersey Shore where a glorified Guido micro-mob masochistically exposes their grand philistine pomposity and animalistic vulgarity. After all, Rutger Hauer is a stoic Nordic Dutchman of Frisian descent and not a shameless exhibitionist, thus his emotions are in check and collected throughout most of Blond, Blue Eyes.

One of the things that Rutger Hauer reveals in Blond, Blue Eyes that I was most glad but unsurprised to find out is that he essentially “played himself” for his role as the Dutch sculptor Eric in Paul Verhoeven’s Turkish Delight (1973); a film that deservedly won the award for Best Dutch Film of the Century in 1999. Despite his internationally critically acclaimed performance in Turkish Delight, Hauer’s parents found the performance to be quite dubious due to the various scenes of nudity featured throughout the film and neglected to appear at the premiere of their son’s highly revered film. In fact, the only part of Blond, Blue Eyes where Hauer seems somewhat depressed is when he discusses his parents; both of whom left all of their children in the care of nannies during their childhoods as they were more interested in their own self-centered careers. In fact, Rutger Hauer’s father was a failed actor of sorts, thus, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that he was more than a tad bit jealous of his son’s early success. As Rutger Hauer describes in Blond, Blue Eyes, he originally had no pretensions of expecting to make acting a legitimate lifelong career for he found such a goal to be ultimately unrealistic. Of course, Hauer ended up being one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Dutch film star to have ever lived. At the very least, Rutger Hauer is the most popular Dutch actor in film history. Personally, I see Hauer as the Dutch equivalent of Swedish actor Max von Sydow, as both European actors proved they were competent at playing leads in everything from Nordic arthouse flicks to mediocre mainstream Hollywood movies. As you learn in Blond, Blue Eyes, Hauer has always been repelled by the petty politics and socially-synthetic nature of Hollywood. According to Hauer, if you accidently turn your back to the wrong person at a party in Hollywood, your acting career could very possibly end then and there. Due to his aversion to Hollywood and its unwarranted airs of insider superiority, Hauer chose to maintain his main home in his homeland of the Netherlands. Not only has Hauer stayed true to his ancestral roots, but he has also managed to stay wholly committed to the woman that he has been married to for the greater part of his life. For an odious club that prides itself on sexual depravity, decadence, and deceit; Rutger Hauer is surely an odd man out in Hollywood, but that is because he has integrity as an actor and as an individual. 

Anyone who is a fan of Rutger Hauer already knows that he is an extremely private individual, therefore, it will be no surprise that the documentary Blond, Blue Eyes is not exactly a totally revealing portrait of the dignified Dutch actor. Still, the documentary does offer the viewer a side of Hollander Hauer that has been yet to be revealed before. As is no surprise to most of his fans, Hauer has always desired to play serious roles but also enjoys playing the occasional goofy role and has been also known to play undesirable roles just to pay the rent. It is revealed in Blond, Blue Eyes that for most of his career, Hauer filmed “behind-the-scenes” footage of the movies he acted in. Although I am sure most of his fans (myself included) would love to see that footage, I doubt Hauer has any interest in releasing it, as he keeps it tucked away in a Hollywood apartment closet. Contrary to seeming like a deadly serious individual, Hauer has a giant statue of Mickey Mouse standing in his home. I don’t know about most Rutger Hauer fans but I was extremely happy to see Dutch actor as the lead in the sadistically sensational pseudo-Grindhouse trash flick Hobo with a Shotgun (2011). If Hauer were to never act again, his reputation as one of the greatest actors of the post-World War II era would be guaranteed merely for his role as Roy Batty in Blade Runner alone. As Hauer candidly discusses in Blond, Blue Eyes, he improvised the iconic and unforgettable pigeon scene at the conclusion Blade Runner, which is indubitably one of the greatest scenes in cinema history. In fact, if that undeniably indispensable scene were to have never been included in the film, it is doubtful that Blade Runner would be regard as the neo-noir science fiction masterpiece that it is today. In my opinion, Hauer gave his greatest performances in his lesser seen films with Paul Verhoeven (Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange), but of course, that is to be expected of most moderns films that were not shot in the English language. Anyways, I am excited to see whatever Rutger Hauer has in store for the future. Admittedly, it would quite nice to see Rutger Hauer and Paul Verhoeven collaborate on one more film together. 

-Ty E

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