Hollywood is full of failed projects of all kinds. Among them is what would certainly have made for a very great movie. A violent work against the backdrop of the Crusades, seen by Paul Verhoeven, with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Let’s have a dream. Imagine a film, violently polemical and even violent at all, signed Paul Verhoevenhaving as its historical setting the First Crusade which led to the capture of Jerusalem in 1099. A film where Arnold Schwarzenegger would be the main actor in the guise of Hagen, a slave who became a thief, who left to join the ranks of the army of the crusaders launched in 1095 in the reconquest of Jerusalem.
A film which wanted to address – we suspected it given the pedigree of the filmmaker – both the venality and the corruption of the Papacy, the creation of false miracles, the Arab point of view and the anti-Semitic aspects of this crusade, which will be embodied in particular by what has been called the “Germanic crusades”.
Either armed troops traveling from the Germanic states to the South, and responsible for pogroms and massacres of Jews in Regensburg, Prague and in most of the cities crossed before being stopped in Hungary.
In sum, Crusade was a highly explosive and controversial cinematic cocktail, which could have been a dream cross between Flesh and Blood and the Kingdom of Heaven of Ridley Scott. For Verhoeven, Flesh and Blood – his first film shot in English – was a sort of response/reaction to an idealized Middle Ages or in any case very romanticized on screen at the time.
He wanted to show a time when the brutality of the fights, the disease and the poverty carried off the Men much more often than natural death, something which was very rare. With Crusadewe would have clearly gone up a notch, if the project had been able to materialize in 1994.
The screenwriter of the Wild Horde in pen
The film had a dream script, and which was written by a hell of a size: Walon Greento whom we owe the scripts of The Wild Horde of Peckinpah and that of the extraordinary Sorcerer of William Friedkin. Here is what a regular contributor to the renowned US site said in 1998 Ain’t it Cool Newswho had the privilege of reading the script: “all new rumors aside, Crusade is probably the biggest unproduced movie script of the last ten years.”
In addition to the excellent understanding between the filmmaker and Schwarzenegger since the filming of Total Recall, the two talents were then at the top. Schwarzy had become a planetary star after the worldwide and monumental box of Terminator 2; Verhoeven is still riding the wave of his three previous successes: Robocop, Total Recall and Basic Instinct.
So what happened? It seems like Carolco Picturesthe company producing the future film and despite its success at that time (it had notably produced Terminator 2colossal success at the Box Office) greatly overestimated its financial capacities to produce such a film.
As the producer – screenwriter summed it up so well Gary Goldmanabout this project: “Paul doesn’t really lie about the budget, which is a mistake, because you just can’t make movies like that without lying. [sur le budget] !”
The problem is that disconnecting the project even cost Carolco money. While several million dollars had already been spent on preproduction, Schwarzenegger’s contract further provided that he was to be compensated for being immobilized during preproduction, even though he had not filmed anything.
From Crusades to Pirates
Considering the project financially too risky, especially with regard to the subject, the producers finally preferred to put their eggs in another well-stocked basket, but deemed less risky: Pirate Island. Bad pick… Unfortunately, it will be an absolute financial disaster: Carolco Pictures went bankrupt shortly after the bitter failure of the film in theaters, in 1996, and durably weighed down the career of Geena Davis At the movie theater.
Unfortunately, you have to make up your mind: there is no longer any chance that Crusade finally come out of the ground one day. Beyond its much too sulphurous subject that would be impossible to see in the current Mainstream Hollywood landscape (you should already have seen the grotesque storm in a glass of water from the Noah of Aronofsky…), our favorite Arnie is also now too old.
As for Verhoeven, he is more oriented towards intimate dramas but not devoid of polemics between She and Benedetta. But far from its flamboyant beginnings. And, at the venerable age of the captain (84 years old), it is hard to imagine him expending mad energy on such a project.