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Back to the Fuhrer: The creators of new sci-fi movie Iron Sky explain why Nazis, the moon and flying saucers make for great entertainment

PHUKET: Timo Vuorensola would be “very surprised” if there really is a secret Nazi colony on the dark side of the moon.

Thursday 17 May 2012, 12:16PM


Iron Sky is in cinemas around Thailand (excluding Phuket) from today.

Iron Sky is in cinemas around Thailand (excluding Phuket) from today.

If there was though, he might have the best idea of what it looks like.

The Finnish director’s latest film, Iron Sky, explores a near-future dystopia where a secret colony of moon-Nazis seek to take revenge on the Earth after some 70 years in orbital exile.

The film has already garnered a cult following across Europe for its outlandish premise, and today (May 17) it touched down in Thailand as the space Nazis begin their Asian cinematic invasion.

Given the sheer brilliance of vengeful moon-Nazis as on-screen antagonists, the question has to be asked: Where did the idea come from, and why has nobody thought of it before?

Jarmo Puskala, the film’s co-writer and the man behind the original concept, says he’s still struggling to pinpoint the exact stimulus.

“I think the idea originally came from a UFO book I read back in high school that had different theories about flying saucers, one of them was ‘some say flying saucers were built by the Nazis, but that is completely ridiculous, everyone knows they come from outer space’,” he says.

“Then more than a decade later we were thinking of what film we would make next and... it kind of popped into my head.”

The idea might not be quite as far-fetched as it first seems. While, of course, Iron Sky is heavily based in fiction, director Timo says: “The core of the technology [depicted in the film] has at least been visited by the real Nazis; the anti-gravity is created with the alleged ‘Nazi Bell’ experiment, and the Walkür-UFO-designs are loosely based on the Haunebu designs.”
Jarmo prefers to say the film is based on “real conspiracy theories”, saying the so called Nazi ‘wunderwaffe’ projects formed the basis of much of the technology in the film.

"It seems a lot of the early flying saucer sightings from the 1940s and 1950s might have actually been tests of secret Nazi planes and rockets captured at the end of the war. Some of the descriptions of the ‘saucers’ are spot on for the ‘flying wing’ jet planes we now know Nazis developed.”

And the fictional realism also goes for the film’s near-futuristic setting, with Timo saying the team chose 2018 as the setting because they wanted freedom to play around with the global political landscape without having to create a broader sci-fi world.

“We’ve added hints of future tech, like holographic screens and so on, but we wanted to keep the world as ‘normal’ as possible.”

Given the film’s premise, ‘normal’ was never really going to be an option. But even as ludicrous as the concept might seem, it’s indicative of the entertainment industry’s ongoing obsession with Nazism, highlighting the fact that they really do make the ultimate movie villains.

So why are we still so fascinated by Nazis more than half a century after the collapse of the Third Reich, and what makes them such compelling characters to hate?
Timo says: “They are a very clear villain. We know from the very moment a Nazi steps into the room that this is a bad guy, and we have more possibility to venture on other aspects of the character.

QSI International School Phuket

“Nazis also had a very profound understanding on the strength of visual imagery, whether in uniforms or symbolism, and visuals are – in the end – the key to film as well.”
It is this visual imagery that is the true highlight of Iron Sky.

The film itself has several apparent flaws – notably an underwhelming script and some undercooked comedic scenes – yet it was never going to be the point of this film to create high art; this is purely cult film Nazi-porn.

But like any great idea, and particularly so for one that is so unusual, the key for Iron Sky was taking the project from the concept stage through to production and then onto the screen. It took some luck, a lot of hard work, and a little bit of help from the online community to make that happen.

“Without social media, Iron Sky wouldn’t exist,” Timo says. “We’ve collaborated creatively with our internet community, co-financed the film with our internet community, and created most of the buzz that’s around the film with our internet community.”

The team behind Iron Sky raised around 1 million euros in crowd funding directly through social media. Given the film’s overall budget was 7.5 million euros, that’s not an insignificant amount.

By blurring the lines and establishing a direct relationship between the film’s creators and its fans, it has helped Iron Sky develop a near-cult following across all corners of the globe, which has now seen it distributed to 14 countries, with another 23 on the way.

On their innovative website, ironsky.net, an online petition helps visitors demand to have the film screened in their local theatre.

Of course, its arrival in Thailand marks unfamiliar territory for the filmmakers. Most locals have little appreciation for the enduring impact Nazism has had on the West. Indeed, in this part of the world it was the Japanese that had the most impact during World War II.

Thailand has actually been making headlines recently for all the wrong reasons when it comes to Nazis: earlier this month Democrat MP Boonyod Sukthinthai caused a stir in Parliament when he yelled “Heil Hitler” several times and made the Nazi salute gesture, before storming out of the building.

How, then, will Iron Sky go down in a country that often trivialises Nazism and its impact on Europe?

“So far it’s been doing very well in Europe, and Europe knows Nazis and the past quite well, but when it comes to say Thailand... I really don’t know what to expect,” says Timo.
Jarmo believes it might eliminate some of the guilt factor and make it easier to swallow as a comedy.

“It’s interesting to see how people will see the film when they don’t have the guilt much of Europe carries. Nazis are just bad guys there [in Thailand], not something to be ashamed of. So I guess it’s easier to watch the film as a funny action comedy.”

Whether it’s a funny action comedy or a serious action drama, not even Hitler himself could dispute the creative genius that has driven Iron Sky to the big screen. Perhaps the only question for Timo and Jarmo is how to top such a unique concept.

Iron Sky opens today (May 17) across most Major Cineplex theatres in Thailand. The nearest Major cinemas for Phuket residents are in Krabi, Koh Samui, Hua Hin or Bangkok. Visit majorcineplex.com for showtimes, or ironsky.net and fb.com/ironsky for more information about the film.

 

 

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