Iron Sky (2012)
“Get Ready, The Fourth Reich Is Here.”
Director: Timo Vuorensola
Cast: Julie Dietze, Christopher Kirby, Gotz Otto
Synopsis: The Nazis set up a secret base on the dark side of the moon in 1945 where they hide out and plan to return to power in 2018.
Moon Nazis, eh? Don’t you just love ‘em? Iron Sky, Finnish director Timo Vuorensola’s frankly madcap tale of Nazi alien invasion makes you wonder why nobody dreamed up the idea sooner. Off-the-wall ideas so often look great on paper but prove to be a major let-down on the screen, but for once we have a schlock idea that really does translate well, thanks largely to terrific special effects (for the budget), some barbed satirical jabs (aimed largely at America) and a tongue-in-cheek attitude that prevents things from getting too serious or silly in equal measure.
Back in the dying days of WWII, the Nazis secretly despatched a military unit to the dark side of the moon, where it constructed a vast complex from which it could construct a legion of spaceships with which it could invade the earth when the time was right. The base is discovered by a couple of American astronauts, one of whom is immediately killed, while the other is apprehended for questioning. Much to their consternation, the Nazis, led by Fuhrer Kortzfleisch (Udo Kier) and his ambitious second-in-command Klaus Adler (Gotz Otto), discover that their prisoner, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), is black, a situation the hare-brained scientist Richter (Tilo Pruckner) swiftly rectifies by injecting him with an ’albiniser’ solution which turns him a peculiar shade of white.
The Nazis also appropriate Washington’s smart phone, which, until it’s battery dies, briefly powers up the Gotterdammerung, a vast spaceship vital to their plans for earth’s domination. Adler persuades Kortzfleisch to allow him to take Washington back to earth in order to obtain enough smart phones to fuel the ship, but his fiance Renate (Julia Dietze) – chosen by Adler because they share a 97per cent genetic match – stows away on board. Brainwashed into believing Hitler was a benevolent leader, Renate’s shock at learning the reality when they pitch up in 2018 America threatens to derail Adler’s plan to depose Kortzfleisch as the Fuhrer and invade the earth.
Iron Sky’s plot is almost as much fun as it sounds, aided by a tone that remains firmly ironic, and a cast that understands the mix of straight acting and humour required to prevent things from becoming too ridiculous. It’s easy for movies like this to tip over into hysteria, but Iron Sky maintains a level of gravitas within its comic situations that prevents it from descending into broad farce. The satirical insights are often surprisingly razor sharp, with the United States, led by a female President (Stephanie Paul) clearly based on Sarah Palin, the primary target. As the Nazi invasion gets underway, the President revels in the destruction, ecstatic that the attack will boost her popularity in the polls – “All Presidents who start a war in their first term get re-elected,’ she enthuses to her foul-mouthed, bad-tempered and over-sexed campaign manager (a scene-stealing Peta Sergeant).
Iron Sky also pulls no punches in its identification of the similarities between Nazi ideology, as propounded by the sweetly naive Renate, and current US policy, by having the President successfully improving her popularity through the use of Nazi-style speeches during her campaign for re-election. It’s a sequence that adroitly ridicules the cheap sentiment and rhetoric employed by all politicians – irrespective of their leanings – in order to fool the public into voting for them, and a typical example of the incisive wit at the core of the film. Only when Renate sees the full-length version of Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator (1941) in a New York cinema – she had previously only seen the official Nazi-approved and drastically shortened version in which the Fuhrer smiles beatifically as he plays with a balloon globe – does she comprehend the ease with which she has been deceived, and the contempt in which her ‘government‘ holds her.
It’s Canadian writer Michael Kalesniko’s intelligent and witty script that ultimately elevates Iron Sky to a status above that which it’s exploitation subject matter deserves, and it’s no surprise that this modestly-budgeted foreign co-production has received the international attention it deserves. One thing’s for sure – it’s going to be a long time before you see anything like it again.