Sometimes an idea comes along that is so outrageous that it begs to be made in whatever format best suits it, be it comic book, novel, or film. Iron Sky is unusual, in that rather than a major Hollywood studio or an established independent house instigating the project, the origins of the production, from inception through financing to filming, are firmly in fandom. This genesis is perhaps hinted at in the suitably fannish premise of space Nazis attacking from their secret moonbase, armed with a serum that will convert all humanity to Aryan perfection.
It is the year 2018, and the Liberty mission arrives on the lunar surface only to discover a Swastika-shaped mining complex, and in an inventive effects sequence of very explosive decompression, one astronaut is killed and the capsule destroyed while the second, a male model sent as a publicity stunt to boost minority voting, is taken captive. Disappointed that he cannot reveal technical details of the mission, he becomes a test subject for the serum.
Created from a tangle behind the scenes encompassing creatives from Finland, Germany and Australia and partially financed with support raised via the internet, Iron Sky should not work nearly as well as it does, but it is a testament to the determination and professionalism of those involved that it does, and it is the boldness of the ideas that carries the whole the occasional slackness or overwrought performance, though it could be argued that when space Nazis are invading, very little could be considered over the top.
The retro design ethic and vast amounts of compositing give the film the feel of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the achievement for the modest budget is impressive. What could be better than Wagner in space to highlight the asteroid bombardment of the United World Confederacy as they bicker in their war room, and Laibach’s soundtrack is a synthesis of the most recognisable elements of German classics, though occasionally lapses towards pantomime.
The stretching of credulity is irrelevant in any spoof, but like Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, the underlying satire is strongest when drawing parallels between Nazi propaganda and American politics, here under the stiletto boot of an the unnamed president portrayed by Stephanie Paul with a hint of Sarah Palin, though the continental producers make equal sport of their homelands.
Iron Sky will not appeal to all, nor does it remotely attempt to push the boundaries of film or science fiction, but what it does do is prove that it is possible to make a better film for €7.5 million than many studios with twenty times that resource have inflicted upon innocent audiences the world over.
Iron Sky is currently on limited cinema release and available on DVD and blu-ray