From WP's page on the film:

Director Verhoeven says his satirical use of irony and hyperbole is "playing with fascism or fascist imagery to point out certain aspects of American society... of course, the movie is about 'Let's all go to war and let's all die.'"

Consider also the following comment from the same page:

According to the DVD commentary, Paul Verhoeven never finished reading the novel, claiming he read through the first few chapters and became both "bored and depressed.

While I suppose that the person responsible for the drastic change in the tone of the film would probably be the screenplay writer, Edward Neumeier, does anybody know if the movie is supposed to be a satire on war or a parody of the book itself? In either event, was Heinlein's estate (which presumably owns the rights) aware of the intent to mangle the story and message so? What was the reaction of the estate upon release of the film?

  • 6
    'As the literary theorist Linda Hutcheon puts it, "parody … is imitation, not always at the expense of the parodied text.' (Wiki). As there was NO imitation of the book whatsoever, that specific abomination can't even pass for a parody. "Lord Of The G-Strings" has more connection to the original text than this movie. Feb 27 '13 at 19:32
  • 3
    Once can only hope the reaction of the Heinlein estate upon licensing the rights was "Yay, money! Now let's go fund good causes!" nitrosyncretic.com/rah/rahfaq.html#0305
    – CamelBlues
    Feb 27 '13 at 22:42

The movie is meant to be a message on war. On the DVD commentary Verhoeven said

I can tell you that the movie is in fact, in our opinion, stating that war makes fascists of us all.

The screenwriter, Edward Neumeier, immediately agreed with Verhoeven. Also according to Neumeier the whole movie was modeled on the "Why We Fight" films of World War II.

The movie is not a parody of the novel. Rather it is mostly the same story told with a frank unpacking of the propaganda and jingoism inherent during wartime. Heinlein told the story from one point of view, Verhoeven told it from another.

  • 9
    This is entirely non-factual. The MI in the movie and the MI in the novel have exactly nothing in common. Even the scenes that are basically quotes from the book are overlaid with with things that never happened to change their meaning. Feb 28 '13 at 0:30
  • 6
    I was unclear, I meant the last paragraph of this answer is factually wrong. Feb 28 '13 at 0:37
  • 5
    "War makes fascists of us all" is quite contrary to Heinlein's POV. There really is no overt propaganda or jingoism in the military of the book. Mar 2 '13 at 6:21
  • 5
    I enjoyed both the movie and the book immensely. The key is to realize that they left off the rest of the title of the movie, "Starship Troopers: A Rebuttal". Jul 16 '14 at 6:25
  • 4
    I agree with the last paragraph, and I also understand why it raises ire. The Mobile Infantry and bugs are window dressing for a political story. This story is about how democracy, with anyone allowed to vote, will fail, and how an orderly society run by soldiers would be great. Heinlein even has classes where they "prove" their society is better. Verhoeven and Neumeier instead saw a society run entirely by people who all went through government boot camp, they saw Nazi Germany and brainwashed Hitler Youth. BUT WE ALL WANTED TO SEE THE MI IN ARMORED SUITS ANYWAY!
    – Schwern
    Sep 30 '15 at 5:08

I've always found Heinlein's work to be introspective rather than overtly propagandizing. Everything that 'Jonnie' is feed, he internalizes, revisits, and then after years of mulling over develops his own personal philosophy. The book is not about "WAR" in the traditional sense, it's about morality, the WHY we do things and the COST of doing them, both monetarily and spiritually.

And I think it is important to point out that "Federal Service" in the book was not strictly Military.

  • 1
    But does this answer the question of what the movie was supposed to be?
    – Adamant
    Jul 12 '16 at 6:26
  • It might be helpful to edit this answer so that it's more clear how it answers the question, which is mainly about the movie (and its relationship with the book), not the book alone.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 12 '16 at 12:23

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