Transnational System Schlock

The Case of Uwe Boll

  • Evan Torner (Autor/in)


This article discusses the transnational processes and intermedial contexts of recent international feature cinema via the example of Uwe Boll, a German producer-director responsible for multiple video-game feature adaptations. Major structural shifts in German film financing between 1998 and 2008 have had a more significant impact on German film production and aesthetics than the contemporaneous digitalization of the media. Boll's oeuvre is a fitting example to depict these shifts, as his international success and infamy only came about after the foundation of German Medienfonds in 1998 and only then with respect to the cheaply acquired video game material he filmed. The article posits Boll as an agent maneuvering between multiple transnational networks in Germany, the USA, Canada, Spain, Indonesia and many other countries, such that his films circulate via a constellation of subsidies, affordable rights, Hollywood star power, Internet criticism and consumer naiveté. The mechanisms of his film operation are explained, as well as how his films are received differently across national boundaries. The essay then delves into two of Boll's "shooting spree" genre films in particular – "Heart of America" (2003) and "Postal" (2008) – to demonstrate the aesthetic effect of these transnational mechanisms on his overall work over the last decade. It concludes with the assertion that contemporary entertainment cinema can only be rendered intelligible through the elaboration of such mechanisms, rather than through the oft-invoked discourses of film auteur and genre.